Mysteries of the Universe: Talks with Physicists about Dark Matter and Dark Energy - Part Four
Cosmologists and astrophysicists have uncovered a lot about the evolving universe, but there remains at least one enormous unsolved mystery: dark matter and dark energy. Scientists can measure the impact of these enigmatic forces on the structure and expansion of the universe, but nobody knows for sure what they actually are. For this fourth and final installment in our Mysteries of the Universe series, we wanted to find an established physicist who could take us all the way out to the fringes of mainstream science’s quest to solve the mystery of dark matter and dark energy.
Enter theoretical physicist Janna Levin, whose job description is to help pioneer cutting-edge explanations for why the cosmos acts the way it does. In this mind-bending interview with WIE’s Tom Huston, Levin, a professor of physics and astronomy at Columbia University, explains several of the wide array of theories about these mysterious “shadows” of the visible universe. Regarding dark matter, Dr. Levin’s favorite theory is that this invisible substance may not be matter at all but may actually reflect the influence of gravity from imperceptible “extra-spacial dimensions” on the visible universe.
Dr. Levin writes novels about science on the side, and her capacity to translate esoteric ideas into popular language makes even the most hard-to-grasp cosmological concepts remarkably accessible. Her humility in the face of these scientific unknowns, mingled with her ability to think and imagine in more dimensions than most of us are used to, shows us how much more we have to learn about who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.