Tonight, we explored a mystery of the cosmos that might be detected as a particle right here on Earth. That mystery is dark matter. PNM’er Dennis Shaffer talked with Yang Bai, theoretical particle physicist at UW-Madison.
“Extra” matter was first postulated in the early 1930’s by Fritz Zwicky, when he noticed the gravitational effects of objects in galaxy clusters. The strong gravitational force of the “extra” matter kept stars and planets at the tails of galaxies from flying off into empty space. But the problem is we can’t see this “extra” matter. It doesn’t emit or reflect light or other kinds of radiation.
Dr. Bai believes dark matter might be a new type of particle currently called weakly interacting massive particles or WIMPs, for short. It’s possible, that with some modification, existing particle colliders, like the Large Hadron Collider that was used to detect the Higgs boson, could also discover dark matter. With the huge amount of focus on this endeavor, Dr. Bai thinks that dark matter will be discovered within 10 years.
For a basic explanation of dark matter on Youtube, with some very creative animation, go here.
Enjoy the entire interview with Yang Bai!