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19 October 2006

Colloquium in Heidelberg: The Dark Universe

On 7/8 November at the International Science Forum Heidelberg — Dark Matter, Dark Energy and their interconnections — First international meeting of the new transregional long-term collaborative research project "The Dark Universe" — Universities of Heidelberg, Bonn and Munich present cutting-edge research project

Solving the enigmas surrounding Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which together account for over 95 percent of the energy density of our universe, is a crucial research objective in modern-day theoretical and experimental physics. The existence of Dark Matter has been deduced indirectly on the basis of a whole range of measurements. Though it represents anything up to a quarter of the energy density of the universe, nothing is known about its physical nature or constitution. At present we only have knowledge of the approximately 5 percent of baryonic matter susceptible of direct observation and measurement.

The major part of the energy density of the universe consists of the Dark Energy distributed equally throughout its expanses. Measurement of the light from remote supernovae indicate that our universe is expanding more and more quickly. Theoretically, an explanation for this phenomenon has been sought either in the so-called "cosmological constants" mooted in Einstein's Field Equations or in a time-dependent description. Finding an answer to the question of whether Dark Energy is static or dynamic is of immense fundamental significance for physics. It has a crucial bearing not only on cosmology and astrophysics but also on particle physics.

The transregional long-term collaborative research project set up on 1 July 2006 at the Universities of Heidelberg, Bonn and Munich will draw on the research already being done on Dark Matter and Dark Energy at these locations, coordinate it and extend its scope. One essential aim of the research initiative is to examine the possible interaction between Dark Matter (probably involving hitherto unknown elementary particles) and Dark Energy.

The collaboration between scientists at three German universities who have already been working on various aspects of the proposed initiative provides an opportunity to achieve a leading international position in a field of research that can be expected to expand appreciably in the coming years. To this end, 15 part-projects have been initiated within the overall framework of this transregional undertaking. These part-projects are grouped into three categories: the origin of Dark Matter and Dark Energy; the time history of Dark Energy; the connections between Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Heidelberg is the coordinating university, and theoretical physicist Prof. Christof Wetterich from the Institute of Theoretical Physics is project spokesman for the first four years.

The significance of this projected is reflected by the fact that the German Research Foundation (DFG) has given the go-ahead for the establishment of a new long-term collaborative research project on a related topic at the University of Hamburg: "Particles, Strings and the Early Universe: The Structure of Matter and Space-Time". The assumption is that these two long-term projects will benefit one another. The spokesman of the Hamburg project, Jan Louis, will also be giving a talk at the colloquium.

Other speakers at the colloquium are Matthias Bartelmann (University of Heidelberg), providing an introduction to the subject, Uros Zeljak (University of Zurich), the cosmologist Joseph Silk (University of Oxford), also well-known for his book publications, Günther Hasinger (Max Planck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics), Pierre Astier (University of Paris) and Simon White (Max Planck Institute of Astrophysics), who will be talking about simulations of the ever more quickly expanding universe with specific reference to Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

Journalists are very welcome to attend. They are requested to contact Georg Wolschin (see below) beforehand. If so desired, individual interviews with the speakers can also be arranged. The colloquium begins at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 7 November and ends at 12.30 on Wednesday, 8 November.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006, International Science Forum, Hauptstraße 242, Heidelberg

2 p.m. — 2.05 p.m.: Welcome by C. Wetterich (Heidelberg)

2.05 — 3.00: M. Bartelmann (Heidelberg): A Look into the Dark Universe

3.00 — 4.00: U. Seljak (Zurich): A State of the (Dark) Universe Report

4.30 — 5.30: J. Silk (Oxgford): Current Frontiers in Galaxy Formation

5.30 — 6.30: J. Louis (Hamburg): Strings and Dark Energy — University of Hamburg Project: "Particles, Strings and the Early Universe"

Wednesday. 8 November

9 a.m. — 10 a.m.: G. Hasinger (Munich): Probing the Dark Universe with Galaxy Clusters

10.00 — 11.00: P. Astier (Paris): The Supernova Legacy Survey

11.30 — 12.30: S. White (Munich): Simulating the Dark Universe

Dr. Georg Wolschin
Institute of Theoretical Physics
University of Heidelberg
Philosophenweg 6
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/549415 or 549444
e-mail: wolschin@uni-hd.de

Dr. Ellen Peerenboom
General Manager
International Science Forum Heidelberg
University of Heidelberg
Hauptstraße 242
D-69117 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/543690, fax: 165896
e-mail: iwh@uni-hd.de

Journalists should address general inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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