Dr Monica Dunford, originally from California and now a researcher at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, worked at Cern in Switzerland until 2013. She is one of six scientists who feature in the widely acclaimed documentary Particle Fever, which chronicles the first round of experiments at the LHC at Cern in 2008, leading up to the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. WHAT IS DARK MATTER? When physicists study the dynamics of galaxies and the movement of stars, they are confronted with a mystery. If they only take visible matter into account, their equations simply don't add up: the elements that can be observed are not sufficient to explain the rotation of objects and the existing gravitational forces. There is something missing. From this they deduced that there must be an invisible kind of matter that does not interact with light, but does, as a whole, interact by means of the gravitational force. Called 'dark matter', this substance appears to make up at least 80 per cent of the universe. Finding the Higgs boson was one of the primary goals of the LHC - but perhaps the LHC’s most important moment is yet to come. ‘One of the things I’m most interested in is creating and discovering dark matter,’ Dr Dunford said. ‘We know from measurements of cosmology that 25 per cent of the universe is dark matter and we have absolutely no idea what that is. ‘For comparison, what we do know, electrons and protons, only count for four per cent. ‘You have this huge chunk of a pie and no idea what it consists of. ‘One thing we could possibly produce would be a dark matter candidate via its decay products. ‘Being able to produce it at the LHC would be a huge connection between our astronomical measurements and what we can produce in the laboratory.’ ‘One of the things I’m most interested in is creating and discovering dark matter,’ Dr Dunford said. ‘We know from measurements of cosmology that 25 per cent of the universe is dark matter and we have absolutely no idea what that is.' An illustration of dark matter in the universe is shown On whether it would be the LHC’s most important discovery to date, she said: ‘Personally yes. It would be a bigger discovery than the Higgs boson. ‘For the Higgs we had a very good concrete theoretical prediction; for dark matter we really have no idea what it would be.’ She added: ‘There is no particle that we know of today that can explain dark matter, let alone what dark energy might be. ‘So if we could directly produce dark matter particles at the LHC this would be a huge step forward in our understanding of the composition of the universe!’ More via Daily Mail Online.
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