Please Explain: Matter, Anti-Matter, and Dark Matter

Friday, May 21, 2010

Please Explain is all about matter, anti-matter, and dark matter. Lisa Randall, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Harvard University; Michael Tuts, Professor of Physics at Columbia University and Mordecai Mark Mac-Low, Chair of the Department of Physics at the American Museum of Natural History tell us all about what it is and what it means.

Event: Dr. Lisa Randall and Dr. Michael Tuts will be part of a panel discussion moderated by Alan Alda
Tuesday, May 25 at 6:30
The New York Academy of Sciences
250 Greenwich Street
For more information, visit the NYAS website.


Mordecai Mark Mac-Low, Lisa Randall and Michael Tuts

Comments [18]

chris from Queens

@Doug in Brooklyn: The energy of a particle is a function of its momenum. For particles with mass, this is its mass times its speed, multiplied by a relativistic factor (usually represented by gamma) that tends toward infinity as the velocity goes to the speed of light. Photons differ from other particles in that their momentum is determined not by mass (it has none) or their velocity but by their frequency (the "color" of the light). Since this is always bounded, the photon has a finite energy.
(see also:

May. 21 2010 02:33 PM
Doug Newton from Brooklyn, NY

Why, if it takes infinite energy to accelerate a particle to the speed of light, do photons travel that fast at tiny energies, like a candle?

May. 21 2010 01:54 PM

Can anyone explain the "Twins Paradox?"

May. 21 2010 01:49 PM
Estelle from Austin

It is tempting to begin relating some of this to spirituality and God. Not in a sense of proving or disproving the existence of God, but in a sense that science and spirituality/God can coexist, or even be the same thing.

May. 21 2010 01:48 PM
Chris Sipe

Is there a relationship between the 'speed limit' of the universe (light speed) and absolute zero (which, would presumably be the lack of vibration or motion altogether)?

May. 21 2010 01:48 PM
Conrad Youngren from Yonkers

Dark Matter seems to be posited as stuff that must be "there" in order for gravitational models to describe the motions of galaxies.

Could it be that a new gravitational model is needed not knew stuff (in the vein of Relativity rxplaining tnings that Newtonial physics could not)?

May. 21 2010 01:40 PM
Victor from Ramsey, NJ

lisa spoke on your show some yrs ago about her theory - gravitation as a force coming from another universe (or dimension? can't remember. my gray matter is getting old) and that the large hadron collider may prove it. is she excited about this possibility?

May. 21 2010 01:37 PM
Jeffrey on the Upper West Side from NYC

2 questions:

What existed one second BEFORE the big bang?

And into what is the universe expanding?


May. 21 2010 01:35 PM
Jon from West Village

I've read Lisa Randell's book.
I just finished Frank Wilczek's, Lightness of Being

Spooky Action at a Distance is the most evocative issue that we discuss around the dinner table here.

Could you PLEASE discuss for a moment and where this is going in the lab and in theory?

May. 21 2010 01:34 PM
Henry from Elizabeth New Jersey

How accurate were the assessments of dialectic materialists like Friedrich Engels, on matter, being that they were made last century?

May. 21 2010 01:29 PM
Estelle from Austin

Dr. Randall you spoke a bit about "the theory of everything" in a Times piece a few years ago. I only barely grasped it! Can you speak about that?
I'd love a further explanation of antimatter too, please.

May. 21 2010 01:27 PM
Rina Piccolo from queens

What exactly is "the God Particle", and why do they call it that?

May. 21 2010 01:26 PM
John from Manhattan

Leonard- Can you ask the physicists how they know which exotic forms of mathematics to follow in order to develop their theory's ie - do they come up with the theory first and then try and fit the math or do the thoery's come out of the mathematical results?

May. 21 2010 01:22 PM
Mark Gering

Explain why the observation of a Higgs boson would confirm the existence of a "Higgs Field" and what the Higgs Field actually is

May. 21 2010 01:20 PM
Hannes C. from Brooklyn

Would your guests characterize anti-matter as something which exists, or more like a force of non-existence.

Also, if the former, then would anti-matter exist in all the complexity that matter exists and adhere to the principles we understand mater to exist according to?

And if so, then wouldn't antimatter (or the perception and understanding of it) also be subject to a temporal dimension, for example, then couldn't we say that antimatter exists precisely in the same quantity and quality as mater but that we simple, by observing it from our own finite perspectives have simply not yet experienced its total collision? In other words, just because we haven't experienced our own deaths yet does not mean that eventually it will overtake us.

May. 21 2010 01:20 PM

For a nerd, this Lisa Randell is pretty good looking.

May. 21 2010 01:17 PM
Estelle from Austin

Thank you for this segment! I've always been curious about particle physics.

May. 21 2010 01:13 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

Please ask your guests about the singularity in a black hole and how learning more about it effects the theory of relativity.

May. 21 2010 12:28 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.