There are phenomena in our universe that are almost beyond our realm of understanding – what lies in the dark space between the stars? How can we measure things that are invisible? What prevents the galaxies from expanding into oblivion?
One explanation is the existence of dark matter, otherwise undetectable because it is composed of particles that do not absorb, reflect or emit light. We can only assume that it is there because of its impact on ordinary matter, so the quest to understand it requires innovative approaches.
In the last decade, there has been impressive progress in detecting dark matter interactions. The search continues with crucial experiments deep in the bowels of an old gold mine in rural Australia using a direct detection method.
Leading the way is physicist Elisabetta Barberio, who will explain this underground undertaking and outline the impact the findings can have on our understanding of the universe.
This event is presented by the Australian Institute of Physics and the UNSW Centre for Ideas.
UNSW x SYDNEY SCIENCE FESTIVAL
UNSW x Sydney Science Festival includes talks, tours and events that will reveal the science that blows your mind – from an unexpected method to measure dark matter to the feminist history of the internet. See the full program.
The Roundhouse is located at UNSW Sydney's Kensington Campus, E6 on this map (PDF). You can be dropped off close to the Roundhouse north entrance (D5 on map). Vehicles need to arrive via High Street, Gate 2, follow the road to Third Avenue and turn onto 1st Ave West. The closest accessible parking is available in the Western Campus Car Park on Anzac Parade (G2 on map).
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Professor Elisabetta Barberio is a member of the Experimental Particle Physics Group at the University of Melbourne and has spent much of her career as a researcher at CERN, the European laboratory of Particle Physics. She was involved with data analysis in the OPAL experiment at Large Electron Positron Collider at CERN. Precision measurements made at this collider have confirmed the theory describing the fundamental particle behaviour to an extraordinary degree of precision. Barberio initiated the direct detection dark matter program in Australia, which led to the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL) in the Stawell Gold Mine, one kilometre underground.
Professor Emma Johnston AO is a marine scientist at UNSW Sydney and a national advocate for improved environmental management and conservation. Emma studies human impacts in the oceans including pervasive threats such as climate change, plastic pollution, and invasive species. Emma conducts her research in diverse marine environments from the Great Barrier Reef to icy Antarctica and provides management recommendations to industry and government. In recognition of her contributions to environmental science, communications, and management, Emma has received numerous awards including the Australian Academy of Science’s Nancy Millis Medal, the Royal Society of New South Wales Clark Medal, the Eureka prize for Science Communication, and in 2018 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). She is immediate past President of Science & Technology Australia, a current Board Member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Co-Chief Author of the Australian Government’s State of Environment Report 2021. Emma is a high-profile science communicator and television presenter for the ongoing BBC/Foxtel series, Coast Australia and has appeared multiple times on ABC Catalyst, The Drum and Q&A. Emma is currently Dean of Science and Professor of Marine Ecology and Ecotoxicology at UNSW Sydney.