The Cosmic Cocktail: three parts dark matter


What is the universe made of?  What is ‘dark matter’? Why is the universe still expanding? These are just some of the questions astrophysicist Professor Katherine Freese tackles in this wonderfully accessible interview with Pod Academy’s Craig Barfoot.

Katherine FreeseKatherine Freese, is the George Eugene Uhlenbeck Collegiate Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan  and author of The Cosmic Cocktail: Three parts dark matterthe inside story of the epic quest to solve one of the most compelling enigmas of modern science—what is the universe made of?



The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe—from our bodies and the air we breathe to the planets and stars—constitute only 5 percent of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The rest is known as dark matter and dark energy, because their precise identities are unknown. 

Prof Freese explains that new galaxies come about when dark matter clumps together, indeed it is dark  matter that dominates structure formation rather than atoms. However, we are not sure what dark matter actually is (though the favourite candidate is WIMPS (weakly interactive massive particles))

Prof Freese is one of the world’s leading astrophycists, but this is an interview that the layperson can enjoy.  For example, she talks of telescopes as ‘time machines’ – light takes 10 minutes to reach us from the sun, but the further out into space we look, towards distant galaxies, the further back in time was the light emitted, maybe even a million years ago.

‘My secret mission is to encourage young people, especially young women, to become scientists’, says Katherine Freese,   ‘When people talk about creativity, they think about the arts – but it is scientists who are in the sweet spot here’.

The New Scientist magazine said of The Cosmic Cocktail:

Physicist Katherine Freese drinks deep of her life’s adventures and cosmic mysteries alike in her captivatingly frank book The Cosmic Cocktail


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