The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe – from our bodies and the air we breathe to the planets and stars – constitute only 5 percent of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The rest is known as dark matter and dark energy, because their precise identities are unknown. The Cosmic Cocktail is the inside story of the epic quest to solve one of the most compelling enigmas of modern science – what is the universe made of? – told by one of today's foremost pioneers in the study of dark matter. Blending cutting-edge science with her own behind-the-scenes insights as a leading researcher in the field, acclaimed theoretical physicist Katherine Freese recounts the hunt for dark matter, from the discoveries of visionary scientists like Fritz Zwicky – the Swiss astronomer who coined the term "dark matter" in 1933 – to the deluge of data today from underground laboratories, satellites in space, and the Large Hadron Collider.
Theorists contend that dark matter consists of fundamental particles known as WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles. Billions of them pass through our bodies every second without us even realizing it, yet their gravitational pull is capable of whirling stars and gas at breakneck speeds around the centers of galaxies, and bending light from distant bright objects. Freese describes the larger-than-life characters and clashing personalities behind the race to identify these elusive particles. Many cosmologists believe we are on the verge of solving the mystery. The Cosmic Cocktail provides the foundation needed to fully fathom this epochal moment in humankind's quest to understand the universe.
"In prose as in life, Katherine Freese is never boring [...] Clear and accessible [...] The Cosmic Cocktail is an excellent primer for the intrigued generalist, or for those who have spent too much time in particle-physics labs and want to catch up on what cosmologists are up to."
– Francis Halzen, Nature
"Freese [...] tells a lively personal tale of her trajectory through the world of science [...] You end up thinking that being a physicist is certainly important and definitely difficult – but it could also be a lot of fun."
– Nancy Szokan, Washington Post
"Freese's extensive research in this field, and her familiarity with many of the other key researchers in dark matter, helps give The Cosmic Cocktail a human touch: she sprinkles into the book anecdotes from her own career and meetings with other scientists throughout."
– Jeff Foust, Space Review
"The Cosmic Cocktail provides a complete guide to the dark side – the unknown stuff that makes up most of the universe yet hides its identity so well that scientists don't even know what they're seeking. The search takes us into extra dimensions and black holes, orbiting satellites and South Pole ice, even tracking chambers stuffed with strands of DNA. It's a wild ride, and cosmologist Freese is just the person to guide us. Negotiating a Stockholm stairway in a ball gown and laurel wreath or learning to manage men by cocktail waitressing, she reminds us that interesting women are a key ingredient in the cosmic scientific mix."
– K. C. Cole, author of Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and His Astonishing Exploratorium
"Freese tells her trailblazing and very personal story of how the worlds of particle physics and astronomy have come together to unveil the mysterious ingredients of the cosmic cocktail that we call our universe."
– Brian Schmidt, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Australian National University
"As one of the pioneers in the hunt for dark matter, Freese weaves together tales of her own adventures in cosmology with the broader history of this historic quest. Her book elegantly conveys both the underlying science and the excitement of discovery."
– David Spergel, Princeton University
"Katherine Freese has long been a major player in the quest to discover dark matter's identity. She tells her story with an insider's perspective – the perspective of the dark matter hunter."
– Dan Hooper, author of Dark Cosmos: In Search of Our Universe's Missing Mass and Energy
"I enjoyed reading this book. Its unique blend of personal anecdote and cutting-edge research is entertaining and refreshing. Freese is a very well-known and respected scholar in the field."
– Juan I. Collar, University of Chicago
1 The Golden Era of Particle Cosmology, or How I Joined the Chicago Mafia 1
New York City; Fermilab: The Atom Smasher in the Prairie; Chicago: A New Zeitgeist in Cosmology; Dunkle Materie: The Dark Enigma; WIMPs at Harvard
2 How Do Cosmologists Know Dark Matter Exists? The Beginning of the Dark Matter Story 9
What Do Galaxies Look Like?; Observational Evidence for Dark Matter; Formation of Galaxies and Clusters; Dark Matter Dominates
3 The Big Picture of the Universe: Einstein and the Big Bang 35
Geometry of the Universe; Cosmic Microwave Background; Outer Space and the Queen of Sweden; Pie Picture of the Universe
4 Big Bang Nucleosynthesis Proves That Atomic Matter Constitutes Only 5% of the Universe 67
A Story about Big Bang Nucleosynthesis; Particles in the Early Universe: A Primordial Soup; Origins of the Elements; Atoms Make Up Only 5% of the Universe
5 What Is Dark Matter? 83
Rocks or Dust; Matter and Antimatter; Neutrinos; MACHOs; Black Holes; The Particle Zoo; The WIMP Miracle; WIMPs in the Human Body and a Tennis Match
6 The Discovery of the Higgs Boson 108
Atom Smashers: The Large Hadron Collider; CERN; Discovery of the Higgs
7 The Experimental Hunt for Dark Matter Particles 123
The Three Prongs of the Hunt for Dark Matter; Dark Matter at the Atom Smasher at CERN: Missing Energy plus Jets; What Has CERN Done for Society?; Will the LHC Bring Doomsday?; Direct Detection: Abandoned Mines, Alpine Tunnels, and Nightclubs in Jerusalem; Indirect Detection: Annihilations in Space and at the South Pole
8 Claims of Detection: Are They Real? 147
Direct Detection in Underground Laboratories; Indirect Detection of WIMP Annihilation: Positrons, Neutrinos, and Gamma Rays; The Future of Dark Matter Experiments
9 Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe 183
Rounding Out the Universe: Type IA Supernovae and Dark Energy; The Future of the Universe; Epicycles; Epilogue
Afterword: Dark Stars 215
Suggestions for Further Reading 233
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Katherine Freese is the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. She is one of the world's leading researchers into the mystery of dark matter. She splits her time between Ann Arbor and New York City.