This Halloween, SMU joins a worldwide celebration of the mysterious substance that permeates our universe: dark matter.
The Department of Physics in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences has planned a Dark Matter Day celebration – complete with a campus-wide hunt for “dark matter” rocks – and the entire community is invited to join in.
Each Oct. 31, science enthusiasts the world over celebrate “the hunt for the unseen” – the elusive matter that makes up much of the total mass and energy of the universe. Scientists don’t know if dark matter consists of undiscovered particles, or if it can be explained with known physics – but understanding it is key to unlocking the structure of the cosmos.
On Sunday, Oct. 29, the department hosts a free public lecture for lay audiences by Maruša Bradač, associate professor, University of California-Davis. The talk begins at 4 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall, followed by a reception with beverages and light snacks at 5-6 p.m. in the Dallas Hall Rotunda.
SMU’s resident dark-matter expert, Associate Professor of Physics Jodi Cooley, presents a free public lecture for audiences familiar with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, in 158 Fondren Science Building.
On Halloween, Tuesday, Oct. 31, the Dark Matter Rock Hunt begins. The Department of Physics has hidden 26 “dark matter rocks” around the SMU main campus; finders can collect special prizes from the Physics Department office in 102 Fondren Science. The hunt is free and open to the public and will take place 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Anyone who discovers a rock painted with a dark matter message on the SMU campus is encouraged to tweet a selfie with their rock and tag it #SMUDarkMatter.
“In the spirit of science being a pursuit open to all, we are excited to invite the public to become dark matter hunters for a day,” Cooley says. “Explore the campus in the search for dark matter rocks, just as physicists are exploring the cosmos in the hunt for the nature of dark matter itself.”
Cooley is part of a 100-person international experiment team that uses ultra-pure materials and highly sensitive custom-built detectors to listen for the passage of dark matter at SNOLAB, an underground science laboratory in Ontario, Canada.
Jodi Cooley explains dark matter and its place in the universe in this video. Tap the YouTube screen to watch, or click here to open the Dark Matter Day 2017 video in a new window.