Panofsky Prize honors researchers' underground hunt for dark matter
||Blas Cabrera, Stanford physics professor with a term appointment at SLAC, and Bernard Sadoulet, astrophysicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley physics professor and director of the UC Institute for Nuclear/Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, are recipients of the 2013 W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics. Photos courtesy of Stanford University (left) and Bernard Sadoulet (right).
The search for dark matter runs deep with physicists Blas Cabrera and Bernard Sadoulet, who have chased this mystery far underground and will be recognized for their work as joint recipients of the 2013 W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics. The prize is named for SLAC's founding director, Wolfgang "Pief" Panofsky, and awarded by the American Physical Society.
While some researchers are scanning the heavens with powerful telescopes to detect dark matter or crashing particles together in an effort to create and study its exotic components, Sadoulet, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Cabrera, of Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, have sought the same answers in deep shafts largely shielded from cosmic rays and other unwanted particle "noise."
Their continuing, decades-long Cryogenic Dark Matter Search has brought them to several underground sites in the hunt for direct evidence of theorized weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. If they are proven to exist, WIMPs could help define and explain dark matter, which is thought to make up about 25 percent of the energy density in the universe and is responsible for the formation of structure in the universe.
This, in turn, could improve our understanding of the evolution of the universe and our interpretation and analysis of astronomical observations.
Cabrera, a physics professor at Stanford with a term appointment within the SLAC Particle Physics and Astrophysics faculty, said the prize, which includes a $10,000 award and a certificate citing the recipients' scientific contributions, is gratifying, and it's "wonderful to share it" with Sadoulet. "We have been leaders of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search work for many years," he said.
—Glenn Roberts Jr.