Why we have not discovered dark matter: A theorist’s apology

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
29 Feb 202464:09
EducationalLearning
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TLDRIn this public lecture at Perimeter Institute, theoretical physicist Philip Flip Tado explores the mysteries of Dark Matter, a fundamental physics enigma. Tado discusses the evidence supporting Dark Matter's existence, its impact on cosmic structures, and the scientific community's efforts to understand it through various models and theories. He also touches on the importance of diversity and equity in physics, emphasizing that the limiting factor in scientific discovery is human. The lecture concludes with a Q&A session addressing alternative theories and the wide range of possible Dark Matter candidates.

Takeaways
  • 🌌 The Perimeter Institute serves as a gathering place for researchers, students, and the general public to explore physics and the universe's big questions.
  • πŸŽ“ Dr. Philip Flip Tado, a theoretical physicist, is an associate professor at the University of California Riverside, focusing on the fundamental physics of Dark Matter.
  • πŸ† Dr. Tado is a recipient of a 2021 career Award from the US National Science Foundation and a 2020 Helman fellow, emphasizing his contributions to the field.
  • πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™‚οΈ Dark Matter is a significant but mysterious component of the universe, making up about 85% of the matter in the universe, which cannot be directly observed.
  • πŸ” Evidence for Dark Matter comes from various astronomical observations, including the motion of stars in galaxies, galaxy clusters, and the cosmic microwave background.
  • πŸ€” The search for Dark Matter involves addressing multiple questions: what it is, how it was created, why it remains today, and how it can be discovered.
  • 🧩 Theoretical physicists use mathematical models to explore and understand Dark Matter, acknowledging that these models are approximations of nature.
  • πŸ”¬ Ongoing experimental efforts, such as the Large Hadron Collider and underground laboratories, continue the search for Dark Matter.
  • 🌐 Theoretical models like supersymmetry, extra dimensions, and composite Higgs have been proposed to explain Dark Matter, but none have been confirmed yet.
  • 🌟 The study of Dark Matter is not only a scientific pursuit but also a human endeavor that reflects our collective curiosity and desire to understand our place in the cosmos.
Q & A
  • What is the main topic of the lecture at the Perimeter Institute?

    -The main topic of the lecture is the search for dark matter and how the scientific community can come together to find new answers about this mysterious substance.

  • Who is the speaker for the lecture?

    -The speaker for the lecture is Professor Philip Flip Tado, a theoretical physicist and associate professor at the University of California Riverside.

  • What is the significance of the workshop 'Dark Matter First Light' mentioned in the script?

    -The 'Dark Matter First Light' workshop is significant as it brings together experts to discuss the impact of dark matter on the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies, focusing on new observational programs, techniques, and modeling tools.

  • What are the traditional territories acknowledged in the script?

    -The territories acknowledged are those of the Anishinabe, Haudenosaunee, and Neutral peoples, specifically on the Haldeman tract granted by the British to the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

  • What is the role of the Perimeter Institute in fostering scientific discussions?

    -The Perimeter Institute serves as a gathering place for people from various backgrounds, including researchers, students, the general public, and teachers, to explore the world of physics and ask big questions about the universe.

  • What is the current understanding of dark matter in the universe?

    -Dark matter is understood to be a significant component of the universe, making up approximately 85% of the matter in the universe, and it is believed to be responsible for the formation of galaxies and stars.

  • What evidence supports the existence of dark matter?

    -Evidence for the existence of dark matter comes from various astronomical observations, such as the motion of stars in galaxies, the motion of galaxy clusters, and the cosmic microwave background radiation.

  • What is the role of theoretical physicists in the study of dark matter?

    -Theoretical physicists play a crucial role in developing fundamental theories of dark matter, using mathematical models and principles to understand its properties and interactions, even though it cannot be directly observed.

  • What are some of the challenges faced by theoretical physicists in studying dark matter?

    -Challenges include the lack of direct observational evidence, the need to reconcile particle physics calculations with cosmological observations, and the complexity of the mathematical models used to describe dark matter.

  • What is the significance of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in the study of dark matter?

    -The LHC is significant as it allows scientists to probe smaller length scales than ever before, potentially providing insights into the properties of dark matter and contributing to the understanding of fundamental physics.

  • What is the role of diversity and equity in the scientific community, as discussed in the script?

    -Diversity and equity are highlighted as essential for the advancement of science, as they bring different perspectives and ideas to the table, which can lead to new approaches and solutions to complex problems like understanding dark matter.

Outlines
00:00
🌌 Introduction to Perimeter Institute and Dark Matter Lecture

The script begins with a welcoming address by Emily Pett, Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships, Grants, and Awards at Perimeter Institute. She introduces the public lecture series event held at the Mike Lazaridis Theatre of Ideas and acknowledges the Institute's mission to unite people in the quest for cosmic knowledge. The Institute, situated on traditional Anishinabe and Neutral peoples' territory, is celebrating its 25th year of fostering scientific dialogue. The audience is encouraged to engage on Twitter and a workshop on 'Dark Matter First Light' is highlighted. The speaker for the evening, theoretical physicist Philip Flip Tado, is introduced. Dr. Tado, an award-winning professor at the University of California Riverside, discusses dark matter's impact on the universe's structure and seeks to unravel its fundamental physics.

05:03
πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™‚οΈ Theoretical Exploration of Dark Matter

Dr. Flip Tado starts his lecture by engaging the audience with a show of hands regarding their knowledge of dark matter. He humorously presents an invisible picture to represent dark matter and then uses an artistic rendition to illustrate our position within a 'bubble' of dark matter in the Milky Way. Tado emphasizes the mystery of dark matter, which is invisible and undetectable by traditional senses, and likens our understanding to fish unaware of the water they live in. He discusses the scientific community's approach to understanding dark matter, referencing the various evidence from astronomy and cosmology that points to its existence.

10:04
πŸ” Evidence for Dark Matter and Its Impact on Scientific Inquiry

The lecture continues with Dr. Tado discussing the evidence supporting the existence of dark matter, including its gravitational effects on galaxy motion, galaxy clusters, and the cosmic microwave background. He highlights the complementary nature of this evidence, which strengthens the case for dark matter. Tado also touches on the historical context of dark matter research, mentioning the contributions of astronomers like Fritz Zwicky and Vera Rubin. He emphasizes the interdisciplinary effort required to understand dark matter, involving both theoretical physics and astronomy.

15:04
🧠 The Theoretical Framework of Particle Physics and the Standard Model

Dr. Tado delves into the theoretical aspects of particle physics, describing the standard model as a mathematical framework that organizes our understanding of fundamental particles and forces. He explains the significance of the Higgs boson and its role in the standard model, as well as the challenges it presents, such as the question of its relatively light mass. The lecture also touches on the historical development of particle physics, including the Nobel Prize-winning electroweak theory, and the pursuit of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider.

20:04
πŸ”¬ The Search for Dark Matter and the Role of Theoretical Models

The lecture explores the connection between theoretical models and the search for dark matter. Dr. Tado discusses the concept of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) and how they were thought to be a prime candidate for dark matter. He explains how theoretical models, such as supersymmetry and extra dimensions, were used to predict the properties of dark matter and how these models were tested against astronomical observations. The talk also addresses the challenges faced when experimental results do not align with theoretical predictions.

25:04
🌟 The Importance of Creativity and Diversity in Theoretical Physics

Dr. Tado emphasizes the importance of creativity and diversity in theoretical physics, drawing an analogy between the search for dark matter and the need for diverse perspectives in scientific research. He discusses the 'missing talent' puzzle in physics and the importance of equity and diversity in academia. Tado argues that the field benefits from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, as this diversity can lead to innovative ideas and approaches to complex problems.

30:05
πŸ”­ The Future of Dark Matter Research and Theoretical Physics

In the concluding part of the lecture, Dr. Tado discusses the future of dark matter research and the role of theoretical physics in addressing fundamental questions about the universe. He highlights the importance of continued exploration and the potential for new discoveries, such as the use of gravitational waves to study the universe. Tado also stresses the value of theoretical models as tools for understanding and making predictions about the natural world, even as they evolve and adapt in response to new information.

Mindmap
Keywords
πŸ’‘Dark Matter
Dark Matter is a hypothetical form of matter that is thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe. It is invisible to the naked eye and to telescopes, but its existence and properties can be inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the large-scale structure of the universe. In the video, the concept of Dark Matter is central to the lecture, with the speaker discussing its impact on the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies, as well as the ongoing search for its fundamental physics.
πŸ’‘Perimeter Institute
The Perimeter Institute is a leading center for scientific research, training, and educational outreach in foundational theoretical physics. Located in Waterloo, Canada, it hosts public lectures and workshops, such as the one mentioned in the script titled 'Dark Matter First Light,' which brings together experts to discuss the implications of dark matter on cosmic structures. The institute is presented as a gathering place for asking big questions about the universe and seeking answers.
πŸ’‘Theoretical Physicist
A theoretical physicist is a scientist who engages in the development of new theories and mathematical models to describe the fundamental nature of the universe. In the context of the video, Dr. Philip Flip Tado, a theoretical physicist, is the speaker for the night. He discusses his research on determining the fundamental physics of Dark Matter and how theoretical physicists contribute to understanding phenomena like dark matter without direct experimental evidence.
πŸ’‘Higgs Boson
The Higgs Boson, often referred to as the 'God Particle,' is an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics. It was discovered in 2013 at CERN and confirms the existence of the Higgs field, which gives other particles mass. In the video, the Higgs Boson is mentioned as part of the standard model of particle physics and is related to the discussion of why it is lighter than expected, leading to further theoretical exploration.
πŸ’‘Standard Model
The Standard Model is a theory in particle physics that describes three of the four known fundamental forces (the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions), and classifies all known elementary particles. It is the framework that physicists use to understand the basic constituents of the universe and their interactions. In the video, the speaker discusses the limitations of the Standard Model in explaining phenomena like dark matter and the Higgs Boson's mass.
πŸ’‘Supersymmetry (SUSY)
Supersymmetry is a proposed extension of the Standard Model that postulates a relationship between particles that mediate force (bosons) and particles that make up matter (fermions). It suggests that for every known particle, there is a partner particle. In the video, supersymmetry is discussed as a theoretical framework that could potentially explain the lightness of the Higgs Boson and provide candidates for dark matter.
πŸ’‘WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles)
WIMPs are hypothetical particles that are a popular candidate for dark matter. They are thought to be heavy, but interact only weakly with ordinary matter and radiation, making them difficult to detect. In the video, the speaker discusses WIMPs as a possible explanation for dark matter and the theoretical work that goes into understanding their properties and how they might be detected.
πŸ’‘Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)
The Cosmic Microwave Background is the thermal radiation left over from the time of recombination in Big Bang cosmology, approximately 380,000 years after the creation of the universe. It provides a snapshot of the universe at its early stages and is a crucial piece of evidence for our understanding of the universe's formation and evolution. In the video, the CMB is mentioned as one of the probes that provide evidence for the existence of dark matter.
πŸ’‘Equity and Academia
Equity in academia refers to the fair treatment, access, and opportunity for all individuals, regardless of their personal characteristics such as race, gender, and ethnicity. The speaker, Dr. Tado, is an advocate for equity in academia and is the first Filipino-American professor of physics. He discusses the importance of diversity in the scientific community and how it can contribute to a broader range of perspectives and solutions to complex problems like understanding dark matter.
πŸ’‘Gravitational Waves
Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime that are caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe, such as the collision of black holes or neutron stars. They provide a new way of observing the universe, offering insights into events and objects that traditional electromagnetic radiation cannot reach. In the video, gravitational waves are mentioned as a new tool in the quest to understand the universe, including the nature of dark matter.
Highlights

Introduction of Dr. Philip Flip Tado, a theoretical physicist researching dark matter and an advocate for equity in academia.

Dark matter's invisibility and its significant presence in the universe, making up about 85% of the matter.

The importance of dark matter in the formation and evolution of galaxies, acting as a cosmic scaffold.

Evidence for dark matter from various astronomical observations, such as galaxy rotation curves and cosmic microwave background radiation.

The historical development of the concept of dark matter and its connection to particle physics.

The standard model of particle physics and its limitations in explaining the nature of dark matter.

The concept of supersymmetry and its role in theoretical physics, including its implications for dark matter.

The Large Hadron Collider's contribution to the study of dark matter and the Higgs boson.

The theoretical approach to understanding dark matter, including the development of mathematical models.

The significance of the WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) model in dark matter research.

The challenges of detecting dark matter and the various experimental approaches being used.

The role of theoretical physics in guiding experimental searches for dark matter.

The importance of diversity and equity in scientific research, drawing an analogy with dark matter.

The value of fundamental research and its impact on scientific progress, as exemplified by institutions like the National Science Foundation.

The human aspect of scientific discovery and the importance of inclusivity in the scientific community.

The philosophical underpinnings of scientific theories and the role of models in understanding the universe.

The future of dark matter research and the potential for new discoveries through innovative approaches.

Transcripts
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