Pioneering astronomers in the 1920s and 1930s noticed suspicious anomalies in the motion of celestial bodies in distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies. However, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the scientific community was confronted with an astonishing conclusion: the Universe is filled with an unknown, elusive substance that is fundamentally different from anything we have ever seen. It is called dark matter, and it constitutes one of the most pressing challenges of modern science.
Gianfranco Bertone, member of the GRAPPA institute and faculty at the University of Amsterdam, is a world-leading expert on this subject. He recently wrote a book, aimed at the general reader with an interest in science, illustrating the implications of this discovery. In fact, nowadays, there is a worldwide race to identify the nature of this mysterious form of matter. We may be just about to witness a pivotal paradigm shift in Physics, as we set out to test the existence of dark matter particles.
Prof. Bertone’s book, Behind the Scenes of the Universe: From the Higgs to Dark Matter, has been published past October 10th by Oxford University Press. The University of Amsterdam organized an event to launch the book publication past November 5th at SPUI 25 during which a copy has been presented to the university Rector Prof. Dymph van den Boom by Prof. Bertone
Physicists from the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter detector will announce their first results next Wednesday, October 30, during an event at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. The event will be webcast by South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
GRAPPA physicists will meet in the institute lounge (C4.278) at 4pm to attend this event.
The discovery of dark matter has led to a worldwide race to identify the nature of this mysterious form of matter. In his popular science book “Behind the Scenes of the Universe. From Higgs to Dark Matter”, which appeared on Thursday 10 October with Oxford University Press, UvA physicist dr. Gianfranco Bertone gives an introduction to the problem of dark matter in the Universe, as well as an actual overview of this extensive research topic.
The book will be presented on Tuesday 5th November, starting from 17:00, at SPUI 25, with the following program:
- Opening and introduction to the subject by Prof. Stan Bentvelsen
- Introduction to the book by the author, Dr. Gianfranco Bertone
- Presentation of a book copy to the UvA Rector Magnificus, Prof. Dymph van den Boom
- Q&A moderated by Volkskrant science journalist Martijn van Calmthout
See here for details.
The Delta-Institute for Theoretical Physics (D-ITP) unites researchers from Amsterdam, Leiden and Utrecht for the study of the origin and structure of new states of matter at length scales from atoms and molecules to stars and galaxies.
To celebrate the start of the D-ITP consortium, the D-ITP kick-off party will take place on the 31st of October at Westerliefde at 16:00. Take a look here for details.
The calls for the GRAPPA Postdoctoral Fellow, plus other two Research Associate positions, are now open.
The call for the GRAPPA PhD Fellow is also open.
Deadline for application is December 1, 2013 (see Jobs).
GRAPPA is now on-line!
Follow us on Twitter @GRAPPAInstitute and on Facebook.
Check out also the events we organize.
Behind the Scenes of the Universe: From the Higgs to Dark Matter of Gianfranco Bertone will be published on 10th October 2013
An extraordinary discovery has recently shaken the foundations of Cosmology and Particle Physics, sparking a scientific revolution that has profoundly modified our understanding of our Universe and that is still far from over. Pioneering astronomers in the 1920s and 1930s had already noticed suspicious anomalies in the motion of celestial bodies in distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies, but it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the scientific community was confronted with an astonishing conclusion: the Universe is filled with an unknown, elusive substance that is fundamentally different from anything we have ever seen with our telescopes or measured in our laboratories. It is called dark matter, and it constitutes one of the most pressing challenges of modern science.
In this book, aimed at the general reader with an interest in science, Gianfranco Bertone, member of the GRAPPA institute, illustrates the far-reaching implications of this discovery. It has led to a worldwide race to identify the nature of this mysterious form of matter. We may be about to witness a pivotal paradigm shift in Physics, as we set out to test the existence of dark matter particles with a wide array of experiments, including the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, as well as with a new generation of Astroparticle experiments underground and in space.
The next Amsterdam-Paris-Stockholm workshop will be host by IAP in Paris during 16-18 December 2013.
More information can be found here.
GRAPPA will host the Dutch CTA Science Day, Thursday December 12, 2013, starting from 09.30 in the morning at Science Park (Amsterdam).
More information can be found here.
GRAPPA and IAP-Paris members are organizing a workshop on anisotropies in astrophysics that will take place at GRAPPA during next 25-27 September 2013.
More information can be found here.
On Wednesday 3rd of July 2013 (16:00 in room C1.112), Margot Brouwer presents her master thesis project, one of the first within the GRAPPA master track.
Title: Dark matter indirect searches with dwarf spheroidals: Prospects for GAMMA-400
Abstract: The question of the nature of Dark Matter (DM) is one of the most imminent problems in modern (astro-)physics. Indirect detection, measuring DM annihilation products from space, is a method of constraining the self-annihilation cross section of DM particles. An attractive candidate for this method is the Draco dwarf spheroidal, one of the most DM dominated dwarfs in our galactic neighbourhood. In this project we study DM cross section upper limits using Fermi-LAT data from the Draco dwarf spheroidal, and examine how these depend on the size of the used spatial model. Furthermore, we make predictions on the improvement of these upper limits from gamma-ray telescopes with higher resolutions, specifically the next generation GAMMA-400 space telescope which is planned to be launched in 2018.
The postdoctoral position offer for CTA will remain open until the position is filled (see Jobs).
The GRAPPA institute is rapidly growing. Two new postdocs, David Salek (GRAPPA Fellow) and Fabio Zandanel, and three new graduate students (Fotis Dimitrakopoulos, Gabriele Sabato and Michael Wiechers) recently joined.
In fall 2013, six more postdocs and five more graduate students will join us.
Check out our full list of members.
A “Vrije Programma” grant of 2.0M€ from funding agency Stichting FOM will allow several UvA faculty members at the Institute of Physics, all associated to the UvA research priority area GRAPPA, to carry out a research program to investigate the nature of Dark Matter over the next six years.
Astronomical observations consistently point to a picture where only about 15% of the remaining 85% of matter in the Universe, so-called Dark Matter, is not directly observable but can be deduced from indirect, gravitational evidence. The nature of Dark Matter is unknown; it has to be some new subatomic particle. This fits the expectation from subatomic physics where extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics suggest that new particles must exist: some of these hypothetical particles are perfect Dark Matter candidates.
The funded research program will allow an experimental and theoretical investigation with the goal to identify the particle responsible for Dark Matter. The granted FOM program will allow the researchers to participate in experiments aimed at so-called direct detection of Dark Matter. Program leader dr. Patrick Decowski (UvA/Nikhef): “A worldwide hunt is taking place for Dark Matter particles. All these scientists would love to be the first to spot them. The Nikhef institute for subatomic physics is a partner in the XENON100 experiment that is presently running the most sensitive Dark Matter experiment to date. We are also building its successor, XENON1T, scheduled to start collecting Dark Matter data in 2015. XENON1T will be a hundred times more sensitive than XENON100.
At the same time, we will be pursuing a vigorous program to work on outstanding theoretical questions and astrophysical uncertainties that directly impact the analysis of dark matter data. Finally, we aim to combine all the available Dark Matter information to extract as much information about the Dark Matter particle as possible. The experimental and theoretical projects included in the FOM program will push the Netherlands to the forefront of Dark Matter research worldwide.”
The program is a collaboration between scientists within the GRAPPA research priority area of the UvA (Decowski, Ando, Bertone) and Nikhef (Van Bakel, Colijn, Linde and Postma).
Physics research at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) has received an enormous boost with the award of a new grant worth 18.3 million euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO ) as part of its ‘Gravitation Programme’. The money will be used for research into different forms of matter.
The research will be headed by Erik Verlinde, professor of Theoretical Physics at the UvA, in close cooperation with fellow UvA professor of Theoretical Physics Jan de Boer, and is a collaboration between scientists from the UvA, Leiden University and Utrecht University. The research will be conducted within the newly formed Delta Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP-D).
The main focus will be on big questions about matter at length scales ranging from atoms and molecules to stars and galaxies. These challenging theoretical questions relate to forms of matter, yet to be understood, which have been observed in both laboratories and in the universe. Examples of unanswered questions to be addressed include:
- the origin of the invisible ‘dark matter’;
- an explanation for superconductivity at high temperature;
- the development of building blocks for a quantum computer.
‘My co-applicants and I are extremely pleased with this NWO grant for theoretical physics,’ stated Verlinde. ‘Thanks to this grant, we can dedicate ourselves to tackling these unanswered questions about the origin and properties of matter. At the same time, we will create a vibrant research environment for young researchers which will occupy a prominent place internationally.
The UvA is also involved in two other research projects that have received awards from the NWO. University Professor Johan van Benthem is going to conduct research as part of the project ‘Language in Interaction’, under the leadership of Radboud University Nijmegen. This group will examine language at genetic and cognitive levels, as well as dealing with how it relates to social interaction and linguistic structures.
In addition, Patti Valkenburg, UvA Professor of Youth and Media, will be involved in conducting research into the development of children. The scientists will look at the role of the development of the brain, how children’s’ opportunities are affected by their parents or grandparents, and how we can help children to develop better. Utrecht University is the lead organisation for this research project.
About the Gravitation Programme
The contribution is part of the NWO’s Gravitation Programme, funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). A total of six research teams from various Dutch universities will receive money for the next ten years in order to jointly set up excellent scientific research programmes. The newly appointed Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker has made 167 million euros available for this purpose.
The OCW and NWO have given new impetus to cooperation at the highest scientific levels with the introduction of the Gravitation Programme. The establishment of these excellent research groups should lead to a higher public profile for top-quality research in the Netherlands.
Three new members joined the GRAPPA group today:
- Christoph Weniger, GRAPPA Fellow
- C. Arina, postdoctoral fellow (joint position ERC G. Bertone/ ERC J. Silk)
- Hamish Silverwood, ERC PhD student with G. Bertone
The GRAPPA Institute has received EUR 800,000 from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for the training of young researchers. The GRAPPA graduate school aims to nurture young scientific talent with a strong teaching and research program in the fields of Astroparticle Physics and String Theory.
Below, the full NWO announcement (in dutch)
Ruim tien miljoen voor ontwikkeling jong toptalent
6 september 2012
Dertien onderzoeksscholen ontvangen van de Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) elk 800.000 euro voor het opleiden van jonge onderzoekers. De onderzoeksscholen bieden ruimte aan beginnende talentvolle onderzoekers om hun eigen ideeën te ontwikkelen. Met de financiële impuls kunnen de scholen vier promovendi aanstellen. De financiering is onderdeel van het Graduate Programme van NWO en bevordert de ontwikkeling van de Nederlandse promovendi-opleidingen.
Binnen het Graduate Programme van NWO kunnen lokale en landelijke onderzoeksscholen en Graduate Schools financiering aanvragen. In totaal hebben 28 scholen een subsidie aangevraagd. Daarvan ontvangen nu dertien scholen een bedrag van 800.000 euro voor de aanstelling van vier promovendi. Dankzij de subsidie kunnen de Graduate Schools een sterk onderwijs- en onderzoeksprogramma opzetten voor de ontwikkeling van jong wetenschappelijk talent.
De onderzoekscholen die financiering ontvangen zijn:
- Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences (BCN) – RUG
- Bijvoet Centrum voor Biomoleculair Onderzoek – UU
- Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science – UU
- Erasmus MC, Medical Genetics – EUR
- Gravitation and AstroParticle Physics Amsterdam (GRAPPA) – UvA
- Groningen Graduate School of Science: Synthetic Biology – RUG
- Graduate School of Geosciences – UU
- Graduate School of Life Sciences: Infection and Immunity – UU
- Holland Research School on Molecular Chemistry (HRSMC) – VU, UvA, UL
- Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalkunde (LOT) – UvA, VU, RU, UvT, RUG
- Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek naar Katalyse (NIOK) – UU, TUE, UL, UT
- Netherlands Research School of Chemical Biology (NRSCB) – UL, RU, RUG, TUE
- Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS) – WUR
Vrijheid voor startende onderzoekers
Graduate Schools richten zich op talentvolle studenten met interesse in een academische carrière. Zij kunnen tijdens hun masterstudie op de onderzoeksscholen kennis maken met het doen van wetenschappelijk onderzoek. De combinatie van onderwijs en onderzoek onder één dak heeft voor zowel studenten als voor de Graduate Schools voordelen. De promovendi krijgen meer keuzevrijheid bij de invulling van hun onderzoek en de keuze van de promotor. De Graduate Schools hebben het voordeel dat zij de meest talentvolle studenten kunnen aantrekken en daaruit de onderzoekers met de meeste potentie kunnen selecteren voor een promotieplaats.
De excellente onderwijs- en onderzoeksomgevingen zijn ontwikkeld naar voorbeeld van de meest succesvolle initiatieven wereldwijd. De Graduate Schools maken onderdeel uit van een of meerdere universiteiten en/of instituten.
Het Graduate Programme is ontwikkeld door NWO op verzoek van het ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (OCW). Dit is de vierde toekenningsronde. In totaal hebben nu 51 scholen financiering ontvangen. Voor 2013 wordt opnieuw een ronde van het Graduate Programme voorzien.
De Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) is met een budget van ruim 500 miljoen euro per jaar een van de grootste wetenschapsfinanciers in Nederland. NWO stimuleert kwaliteit en vernieuwing in de wetenschap door het beste onderzoek te selecteren en financieren. NWO beheert onderzoeksinstituten van (inter)nationaal belang, geeft mede richting aan het wetenschappelijk onderzoek in Nederland en brengt wetenschap en maatschappij dichter bij elkaar. Onderzoeksvoorstellen worden beoordeeld en geselecteerd door vooraanstaande wetenschappers uit binnen- en buitenland. Dankzij financiering van NWO kunnen meer dan vijfduizend wetenschappers onderzoek doen.
Congratulations to Shin’ichiro Ando, who has been awarded a NWO Vidi grant on ’Probing Dark Matter with High-Energy Gamma Rays and Neutrinos’.
Prof Lars. Bergstrom (u. of Stockholm) is visiting us on May 24 and 25. He will give the IoP colloquium on Thursday, May 24 afternoon at 4pm in room C0.110.
Title: Dark Matter: Here, there and everywhere?
Abstract: There are several ongoing efforts to detect signatures of dark matter and thereby hopefully determine its particle properties. In particular, three methods: Searches at the LHC, direct detection experiments, and more recently indirect detection experiments such as Fermi and IceCube, now have the sensitivity to find dark matter, or at least rule out large regions of parameter space of proposed models. I will briefly review where we stand at present, and discuss some particularly interesting directions where I think the field is going. Some recent claims of dark matter signals, including a 130 GeV gamma-ray line from dark matter annihilation, will also be discussed.
After the colloquium, the Institute of Physics invites you for drinks just outside the lecture hall.
A list of confirmed future IoP colloquia can be found on:
GRAPPA will host next week (April 12 and 13) an ‘Amsterdam-Paris-Stockholm’ workshop on Dark Matter: an informal meeting with Astroparticle groups in Paris and Stockholm.
More information can be found here.
On Friday October 21st the GRAPPA spearhead initiative of the UvA and Science Faculty FNWI is organizing a kickoff meeting to highlight the arrival of four new faculty members: Shin’ichiro Ando, Gianfranco Bertone, Patrick Decowski and Ben Freivogel. Each of them will give a short presentation about their own research, and there will be brief overviews of the history of GRAPPA and the current astroparticle physics landscape.
LOFT, the Large Observatory For X-ray Timing, is a newly proposed space mission that will answer fundamental questions about the motion of matter orbiting close to the event horizon of a black hole, and the state of matter in neutron stars. LOFT was recently selected by ESA as one of the four M3 mission candidates that will compete for a launch opportunity at the start of the 2020s.