Professor, Departments of Astronomy & Physics/ Director, Franke Program in Science and the Humanities, Yale University
Panel: Unfolding Models
Dark matter comprises the bulk of the matter in the universe, but its true nature remains elusive as it is yet to be directly detected. Using gravitational lensing, the bending of light by matter in the Universe, Professor Primyamvada Natarajan has been creating detailed spatial maps of the dark matter distribution in clusters of galaxies. A developer of the conceptual model that underlies this mapping, she hopes that its granularity will hold new clues to its properties.
Trained in the history and philosophy of science and in physics, Natarajan’s intellectual interests span disciplinary boundaries. She frequently collaborates with artists and writers about science, focusing on the history of radical ideas and their acceptance, a journey that she traces for some of the most influential ideas in cosmology in her book, Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos. For “Unfolding Models,” Natarajan will discuss her work on epistemic challenges in scientific disciplines wherein controlled experiments are not possible, the role of simulations as proxies for experiments and inference from conceptual models and complex data.
2019, Polity Press
A collaboration with Antony Gormley, the virtual reality experience uses data collected by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to map a real and interactive journey, leaving Earth hurtling through the atmosphere, stratosphere, the asteroid belt, and into outer space.