A Sparkle in the Dark: The Outlandish Quest for Dark Matter
The nature and origin of dark matter are among the most compelling mysteries of contemporary science. There is strong evidence for dark matter from its role in shaping the galaxies and galaxy clusters that we observe in the universe. Still, for over three decades, physicists have been trying to detect the dark matter particles themselves with little success. This talk will describe the next stage in that search, the LZ detector. LZ is an instrument that is superlative in many ways. It consists of 10 tons of liquified xenon gas, maintained at almost atomic purity and stored in a refrigerated titanium cylinder a mile underground in a former gold mine in Lead, South Dakota. The talk will present some of the challenges in constructing and operating this large-scale underground experiment and the prospects LZ presents for finally discovering the dark matter particle.
Maria Elena Monzani received her PhD from University of Milano and University of Paris 7. Her research field is astroparticle physics, which focuses on topics at the intersection between particle physics and astrophysics/cosmology; her PhD research was on the Borexino experiment that measured neutrinos produced by the sun. She then held a postdoctoral position at Columbia University before joining SLAC in 2007 to work on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Today, Monzani is a member of the SLAC scientific staff. She leads the software computing effort for the LZ Dark Matter Experiment and the Science Operations Team for the Fermi satellite. Outside of work, Monzani enjoys playing the piano, arguing about philosophy and scouting the Bay Area for new cuisines.