The Dark Side of the Universe: Dark Matter and Dark Energy

February 23, 2009

Blackstone Hotel
636 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, United States


Cosmologists are making ever more precise measurements of the Universe and have found that they know almost precisely nothing about what it is made of. Only one percent of the Universe is made of the kind of everyday matter that can be seen with telescopes–the stars, the planets, us.

Another 3.5 percent is made of hot gas that can only be seen with X-ray instruments. The rest is a complete mystery: 24 percent is dark matter whose gravity holds our galaxy together, and the remaining 71 percent is dark energy, whose repulsive gravity is causing the expansion of the Universe to speed up, not slow down as expected.

Three prominent scientists–astronomer Rocky Kolb, particle physicist Joe Lykken, and cosmologist Michael Turner–discussed what we know about the nature of dark matter and dark energy. They discussed the roles of particle accelerators and telescopes in solving the mystery of the unseen 96 percent the Universe and concluded by explaining what all, this means for our understanding of the elementary particles and the fate of the Universe.


Michael Turner, Professor, Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Physics, University of Chicago; Enrico Fermi Institute; Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics Research: Theoretical astrophysics, cosmology and elementary particle physics, cosmology

Edward “Rocky” Kolb – Chair; Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor, Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at University of Chicago; Enrico Fermi Institute; Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics Research: Cosmic inflation models, gravitational production of particles, particle dark matter, ultra-high energy cosmic rays, and high-energy neutrino astronomy.

Joe Lykken – Particle Physicist, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Research: Answering some of the biggest (and simultaneously smallest) mysteries in the Universe, like why particles have the masses they do, what’s the connection between quantum mechanics and gravity, and are there unseen extra dimensions in addition to the three space dimensions we normally experience.

Location: Blackstone Hotel: 636 South Michigan Ave Chicago, IL. 60605 (312) 447-0955 – Crystal Ballroom