15-20 July 2012
Ascona, Switzerland
Europe/Zurich timezone

For the past 80 years, astronomers have been wondering what exactly is responsible for the distribution of galaxies in the sky, and what drives the way they move about each other. Gravity as we know it, cannot explain this; not if visible matter is all there is to the Universe. Today, particle physics might be on the verge of finally unraveling this mystery.

Many physicists believe that the explanation for the behavior and structure of galaxies lies in the infinitely small scales of subatomic particle physics. A new type of particle, unlike any of the particles we know about, which does not emit nor absorb light, could be effectively invisible to the astronomers' instruments, yet make up most of the mass of the Universe. The detection of this new particle would shake up our understanding of the basics building blocks of the cosmos. The hunt for "Dark Matter" is on.

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN has begun testing some of the theories about Dark Matter. By colliding beams of particles at very high energy, this machine will re-create conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists believe that in this process Dark Matter particles will be produced. At the same time, other experiments (such as underground Dark Matter detector and satellites observing debris produced by Dark Matter collisions in the Universe) are being used to characterize the nature of Dark Matter, and to test whether its properties can explain the astronomers' puzzling observations.

This conference will bring together scientists looking for Dark Matter in particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, in order to facilitate their collaboration and promote the exchange of new ideas across the different communities. This stimulating meeting will promote the development of a new, truly global approach to the discovery and characterization of Dark Matter, and help scientists to join forces in tackling one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of fundamental physics.

Ascona, Switzerland
Centro Stefano Franscini