Oct. 26, 2009, Berkeley Lab Science at the Theater: No mystery is bigger than dark energy — the elusive force that makes up three-quarters of the Universe and is causing it to expand at an accelerating rate. KTVU Channel 2 health and science editor John Fowler will moderate a panel of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists who use phenomena such as exploding stars and gravitational lenses to explore the dark cosmos.
Saul Perlmutter heads the Supernova Cosmology Project, which pioneered the use of precise observations of exploding stars to study the expansion of the Universe. His international team was one of two groups who independently discovered the amazing phenomenon known as dark energy, and he led a collaboration that designed a satellite to study the nature of this dark force. He is an astrophysicist at Berkeley Lab and a professor of physics at UC Berkeley.
David Schlegel is a Berkeley Lab astrophysicist and the principal investigator of Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), the largest of four night-sky surveys being conducted in the third phase of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, known as SDSS-III. BOSS will generate a 3-D map of two million galaxies and quasars, using a specially built instrument outfitted with 1,000 optical fibers and mounted on the SDSS telescope in New Mexico.
Alexie Leauthaud is Chamberlain Fellow at Berkeley Lab. Her work probes dark matter in the Universe using a technique called gravitational lensing. When gravity from a massive object such as a cluster of galaxies warps space around it, this can distort our view of the light from an even more distant object. The scale and direction of this distortion allows astronomers to directly measure the properties of both dark matter and dark energy.