DARK MATTER: Into The Void

Stars and planets appear as beams of gold light in the Universe - credit NASA, ESA M.J Jee and H. Ford et al.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - 19:00 to 20:30
Science Gallery London, Theatre
FREE, booking essential


What motivates scientists to keep hunting for dark matter?

Dark matter is one of the most profound mysteries in contemporary physics, taking us to the limits of the known Universe.

We infer its existence from the strange behaviour of galaxies, but scientists have been searching for the invisible substance for nearly a century, and have so far found nothing.  

Join dark matter physicist Malcolm Fairbairn (King’s College London), philosopher Eleanor Knox (King’s) and artist Yu-Chen Wang for a discussion, chaired by science presenter Helen Arney, exploring our quest for the truth and the limits of human knowledge.

Will we ever truly be able to say that dark matter exists? Or might the Universe be too vast and complex for human understanding?

Image credit: NASA, ESA, M.J Jee and H. Ford et al (John Hopkins University).

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About the contributors:

Originally from Wigan in the North West of England, Malcolm Fairbairn’s physics career took him to live in five different countries until he left CERN just over a decade ago to take a permanent position at King’s College London.
Fairbairn works at the intersection of particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology.  While he has spent a large fraction of the last decade focusing on dark matter, has also worked on dark energy, early Universe cosmology and its relation to Higgs physics as well as applications of machine learning to astrophysics and particle physics.
He has also installed a telescope on the roof of the Physics building on the Strand which he proudly believes has the worst light pollution in Western Europe.  Despite this, it is used to train undergraduates.
Apart from physics, he is a husband, a father, a vegetarian, an atheist and, like many scientists, an ill-disciplined amateur musician.

Eleanor Knox is Reader of Philosophy of Physics at King’s College London. Her work focuses on philosophy of space time physics, explanation and the relationships between physics.

The work of artist Yu-Chen Wang asks questions about how we deal with known and unknown, visible and invisible, prediction and proof. Central to her practice is is drawing, which allows her to explore and meditate on the mechanisms used to understand the fundamental nature of reality. Her new commission for DARK MATTER, There’s more to it than meets the eye (2019), shines a light on the personal stories inspiri ng physicists to dedicate their working lives to researching dark matter. Based on the many conversations she had with physicists at King’s College London, UCL, University of Liverpool, LJMU and at CERN, the work is testimony to her own personal “brain bending and mind boggling” journey. 

Helen Arney is an award-winning science presenter, comedian and songwriter, with a background in physics. She has presented science programmes on TV and radio, performed on stage everywhere from Hammersmith Apollo to CERN, toured the UK in ‘Uncaged Monkeys’ with Robin Ince and Professor Brian Cox, and taken her own solo show ‘The Voice of an Angle’ to the Edinburgh Fringe