Wright Lab celebrates Dark Matter Day with local schools

slide with pictures of 5 people and 4 experiments.
November 1, 2023

Dark Matter Day, which began in 2017, is an annual celebration of the search for dark matter. Each year, laboratories around the world host Dark Matter Day events on or around October 31.

Wright Lab celebrated this year’s Dark Matter Day by hosting an online event at the lab for local schools, in partnership with Yale Pathways to Science.  Seventy-one students from grades 9-12 and four teachers registered to attend the program.  The participating schools were Engineering and Science University Magnet School in West Haven, Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, and  Xavier High School in Middletown.

The event began with a brief introduction to Wright Lab research and community given by Wright Lab program manager Victoria Misenti.  Then postdoctoral associate Sabrina Zacarias gave a brief introduction to dark matter.  After this, four researchers spoke about their own, different approaches to investigating dark matter from their laboratories. 

Postdoctoral associate Mike Jewell spoke about the search for a candidate for dark matter called the axion using the HAYSTAC experiment.  Zacarias spoke about how the RAY experiment enhances this search for the axion at higher masses and frequencies with the use of Rydberg atoms.  Associate professor of physics David Moore spoke about his experiments to search for dark matter by trapping and levitating tiny particles for investigation using lasers and a vaccum.   Finally, graduate student Yinchen Hao represented the Jack Harris lab’s work with dark matter using magnetically levitated helium drops in a vacuum. 

While Wright Lab has experiments located all around the world, including other dark matter experiments such as COSINE-100 in South Korea and CUORE in Italy,  all of the experiments discussed at the Dark Matter Day event are located at Wright Lab, so each researcher also gave a mini fly-by tour of the experimental  setups in their labs for the students to see.

At the end of the program, there was a Q&A period with all the researchers present, moderated by lecturer Caitlin Hansen, for the students to ask questions and interact with the researchers.

Special thanks also to Wright Lab’s Vincent Balbarin, who provided audio visual and information technology support during the event, and to both Rick Crouse and Maria Parente from Yale Pathways to Science, who assisted with advertising and general event coordination advice.

A Flickr album of photos from the event can be seen at the link below.

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