Everything in our observable world is made of the same building blocks: protons, neutrons and electrons (“baryonic matter”). However, baryonic matter comprises only 5% of the cosmos. This means an amazing 95% of the universe is comprised out of mystery materials that we cannot directly observe. Scientists have named the mystery components “dark matter” and “dark energy.”
Dark matter comprises roughly 23% of the universe. Scientists know dark matter is there because of its gravitational pull. The remaining 72% is dark energy, which causes space itself to expand at an ever increasing rate.
Patricia Burchat is a professor in Stanford’s Department of Physics, where she is Department Chair. Her research has focused on fundamental physics: What is the Universe made of? What are the laws of physics that govern the fundamental constituents of the Universe? Her research efforts have included smashing things together at Stanford Linear Accelerator and the development of a large survey telescope in Chile which will focus on mapping dark matter.
Join Patricia for a discussion exploring the evidence for dark matter and dark energy, and the experiments being developed to investigate their fundamental nature.
Patricia received her PhD in physics from Stanford in 1986. Long recognized for her teaching ability, she received the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2007, Stanford’s highest teaching honor.