Science Café / How Physicists and Artists Search for Dark Matter

February 10, 2022

1:30 pm

Artists and scientists talk about their fascinating quest for invisible and elusive "dark" matter.

An invisible matter is having a gravitational effect on everything. Without the gravity of this “dark” matter, galaxies would fly apart. Observational data in astroparticle physics indicate that this matter exists, but so far it hasn’t been detected directly.

CUAG and the Faculty of Science at Carleton University invite you to a free public conversation to learn about how two disciplines – science and art – approach the fascinating search for dark matter.

We’ll convene on Zoom; please register here.

The search takes place at SNOLAB, a world-class science facility two kilometers under the Sudbury Basin. In 2020, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University invited four artists to participate in a residency at SNOLAB. They each created new artworks, which are displayed in Drift: Art and Dark Matter.

For this Science Café, Carleton University experimental physicist Simon Viel and one of the invited artists, Jol Thoms, will speak about their work and research at SNOLAB. The conversation will be moderated by Gurpreet Kaur, a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics at Carleton University.

This conversation is for everyone: you don’t have to be a physicist to participate! It will be an exciting opportunity to learn how scientists and arts use multisensory agents in the search for an experience of dark matter.


Gurpreet Kaur is a Ph.D. candidate in astroparticle physics at Carleton University, working with the DEAP-3600 (housed in SNOLAB) since 2017. Dr. Kaur’s research is mainly focused on preparing the strategies and analyzing the physics data for the time series analysis and is working with other group members to expand the physics reach of the detector from sensitivity and feasibility studies. The data analysis also includes many other interesting studies like examination of the stability of detector, extraction of the lifetime of argon isotope (39Ar) with world-leading precision, and quality assessment of physics data. Dr. Kaur graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in science from Panjab University, India in 2014, and received a Masters’s degree in solid-state physics from Punjab Agricultural University, India in 2016.

Jol Thoms is an artist and researcher based in London, UK. His audiovisual compositions, lecture-performances, and educational experimentations emerge from site-based fieldwork in remote ‘landscape-laboratories’ situated at the forefront of experimental physics and environmental stewardship where planetary bodies become vast posthuman sensing arrays. His critical practice addresses our troubled relationships with nature, technology and the cosmos by signalling beyond the purely measurable and quantifiable, and by thinking, feeling and sensing with more-than-human worlds.

Dr. Simon Viel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Carleton University, within the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute. As a member the Astroparticle Physics Experiments (APEX) group, he works on large-scale low-background experiments at SNOLAB, and silicon photomultiplier (SiPM) research and development. He received his PhD at UBC and was a Chamberlain Fellow and NSERC PDF, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2014–17).

Related exhibitions

Drift: Art and Dark Matter

Check it out