Podcast Episode 5: Pranjal Trivedi
In our fifth episode, Pranjal Trivedi, astrophysicist and cosmologist as a postdoctoral researcher at the Hamburg Observatory and the Quantum Universe Cluster of Excellence, talks about dark matter and the ongoing quest of finding it.
“I used to be an observational astronomer before I became a theoretical astrophysicist”, Pranjal tells me and I can see the sparkle in his eyes. He continues to explain how astronomers back in the days peered through a telescope eyepiece for countless hours without moving the tiniest bit, usually while it was freaking cold on long dark winter nights without any heating to avoid blurred images. I am sure I forgot most of the technical details I learned but I certainly did not forget the enthusiasm and excitement about all things astro that Pranjal got me infected with.
Did I already tell you how nice it was at the Observatory?
I already tried to describe the beautiful sunny afternoon on which we recorded episodes 4 and 5 at the Hamburg Observatory in last week’ post about Caroline’s episode. However, if you think I am probably overselling the setting, take Pranjal’s word for it. In the very beginning of this episode you can listen to me talking to him while we are sitting on a bench in the sunny Observatory park.
You will get a rough idea about my social awkwardness when hearing how I blatantly asked Pranjal how old he is after just a few minutes. To my defense: I was so incredibly stunned to learn about all the things he already did and achieved in his life. 🙂
For everyone who wants to jump right into the more scienc-y part in which Michael and Pranjal talk about dark matter, it starts at about 04:15.
In this podcast, Michael and Pranjal dive into the big physics mystery of dark matter. Why do astronomers assume there must be 5 times more matter in the Universe than we know about? This matter is called dark matter because it seems invisible using light, yet it makes a heavy presence felt via gravity. It’s not made up of any atoms or ions like our bodies, the Earth or stars. It also does not match any subatomic particle discovered so far in physics experiments. So, what is it? Take a listen to find out why Hamburg scientists are busy doing theory and experiments hunting for dark matter in the form of the ‘axion’.