The dark side of the universe


Bakerian Prize Lecture

By Professor Joseph Silk FRS, University of Oxford


The emergence of cosmic structure is an outcome that has been studied by peering back through the mists of time to the remote depths of the universe as well as by deciphering the fossil structure of nearby galaxies. One of the greatest mysteries in the cosmos is that it is mostly dark. That is, not only is the observed night sky dark, but also most of the matter in the universe whose existence is directly inferred from the observations is dark. For every atom visible in planets, stars and galaxies today there exists at least five or six times as much ``Dark Matter'' in the universe. Astronomers today are seeking to unravel the nature of this mysterious, but pervasive Dark Matter, and determine whether it can be detected. Nor does the mystery rest only with dark matter, as there is also a dark force, dubbed ``Dark Energy'' and originally postulated by Einstein in the form of the cosmological constant, that is systematically accelerating the universe. Indeed, Dark Energy accounts for two-thirds of the mass-energy density of the Universe, and understanding its origin and nature presents one of the greatest challenges in physics. Joseph Silk will review the status of ongoing searches for the dark components of the universe.

The dark side of the universe 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

Events coming up

  • The next big thing 29 May 2015 at Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales Four Royal Society Research Fellows discuss their work at the forefront of science at the Hay Festival.
  • Stuff matters 31 May 2015 at Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales Join award winning author Mark Miodownik at the Hay Festival.
  • Elements, genomes and ecosystems: cascading nitrogen and phosphorus impacts across levels of biological organisation 01 June 2015 at The Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Buckinghamshire Theo Murphy international scientific meeting organised by Professor Andrew Leitch, Professor Maurine Neiman, Professor Dag Hessen, Professor Puni Jeyasingh, Professor Lawrence J. Weider and Dr Ilia Leitch

For more events please see the events diary.

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