SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – On April 22, 2022, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was restarted after an upgrade that took three years.
Located beneath the France-Switzerland border, the LHC is one of the primary ways that particle physicists gather data to form theories about “questions important to humanity from the very beginning,” according to one of the University of Utah’s own particle physicists, Dr. Pearl Sandick.
Dr. Sandick wants Utahns to know that the reopening of the LHC and other developments are “super exciting and fun,” and not just for physicists. She is speaking at two talks this month that all Utahns can enjoy — one on April 27th and one on April 28th, both titled “Searching for Light from Darkness.”
Dr. Sandick described her work in particle physics and cosmology to ABC4 in layman’s terms. According to Sandick, particle physicists study “the smallest constituents of what makes up nature and matter, and how these smaller-than-atom particles interact.” Dr. Sandick’s work involves developing existing particle physics theory to better fill in some theoretical gaps that will be discussed later in this article. She describes cosmology as “the study of the universe from the beginning to now.”
As far as theoretical physics in general, Dr. Sandick says her job is “to look at all the information about how the universe works, to describe it in a coherent way, and to figure out how to test those descriptions.”
Dr. Sandick’s work is primarily focused on understanding and explaining dark matter in the universe.
She tells Utahns not to worry if they don’t know what dark matter is, because physicists don’t either. What physicists do know, however, is that dark matter is responsible for a large amount of the gravity that “holds structures of the universe together” and is the “reason it looks the way it does.” The trick, however, is that dark matter can’t be explained by current theories about particle physics that describe atomic and subatomic particles.
The description of Dr. Sandick’s lecture series reads that “there’s good reason to suspect that a breakthrough about dark matter could be just around the corner, with far-reaching implications for our understanding of the Universe, its tiniest constituents, and even fundamental physics.”
Dr. Sandick’s job is to “come up with new ideas about dark matter and how it relates to what we see around us.” She also mentions that Utah is a particularly interesting spot for scientists because of its great views of the Milky Way.
International Dark Sky week also begins today, in which participants will celebrate eliminating light pollution to maintain our ability to see the night sky. Dr. Sandick says that humankind looking at and wondering about the night sky is pretty relatable for modern physicists.
Admission to Dr. Sandick’s upcoming lectures is free and open to the public, but requires preregistration through the link here.