A smiling woman wearing a red top standing in front of an artwork with circular, circuit-like patterns.
Image: Eddie Jim, The Age

The Einstein Lecture: Elisabetta Barberio on Dark Matter

Presented by UNSW Centre for Ideas

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.

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.