Press Release

Media Invited to Conference That Will Debate Nature of Dark Matter

By SpaceRef Editor
May 5, 2014
Filed under , ,

The first evidence that there’s more to the universe than meets the eye appeared in the 1930s. Astronomers noticed that spiral galaxies spun fast enough that they should fly apart — unless something unseen was holding them together. We call that invisible stuff dark matter, and we now know that it is five times more common than the normal matter that makes up planets, stars, and nebulae. Yet although we see its gravitational effects, we still don’t know what dark matter is.

Journalists are invited to attend the Eighth Harvard-Smithsonian Conference on Theoretical Astrophysics, sponsored by Raymond and Beverly Sackler and Irwin Shapiro. The conference will review the latest observational and theoretical advances in characterizing dark matter. Sessions will cover a variety of topics including hints of dark matter from studies of gamma rays and X-rays, discrepancies between observations and computer simulations, and even the possibility that our understanding of gravity is fundamentally flawed.

* Dates: Monday, May 19 — Thursday, May 22
* Title: Debates on the Nature of Dark Matter
* Location: Sheraton Commander Hotel, 16 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
* Website:

This conference will feature a series of 30-minute talks by invited speakers on a variety of topics. It also will include an open poster session. The full list of topics and speakers is online at the website listed above.

Conference registration is free to credentialed journalists. To register, contact Nina Zonnevylle,, +1 617-495-7962.

Journalists also are welcome to attend the Wednesday evening banquet and after-dinner talk by Jim Peebles of Princeton University. In the early 1980s Peebles was one of the originators of the cold dark matter model for structure formation in the universe, which is currently the prevailing paradigm in cosmology. Over the past fifty years, he also pioneered studies of the recombination of hydrogen when the universe was 400,000 years old, and the resulting fluctuations of the cosmic microwave background. Tickets to the banquet are $75 per person.

This conference is hosted by the Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard University.

Nina Zonnevylle
+1 617-495-7962

David Aguilar
+1 617-495-7462

Christine Pulliam
+1 617-495-7463

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

SpaceRef staff editor.