Nathalie Palanque, a dark-haired person wearing a black jackets, smiles for a headshot outdoors.

What is dark matter?

What is dark energy?

What happened during inflation?

What does the universe tell us about the fundamental particles?

What’s wrong with gravity?

Group of scientists pose behind a large telescope mirror. Members of the LZ team in the LZ water tank after the outer detector installation. Abstract colors and cosmic microwaves. Supernova explosion in the center of the milky way. Scientist and student stand in front of a cosmic poster. Supernova explosion. Isolated Neutron star. A view of a partially assembled focal plane petal with an array of robotic positioners that is each connected to a fiber. Person with gray hair wearing a navy sweater over a blue and white checkered collared shirt, photographed outdoors with an ocean in the background.

Michael Levi is a senior scientist in the Physics Division and director of the international DESI collaboration, which aims to measure the effect of dark energy on the expansion of the universe.

Person with short black hair wearing a gray collared shirt, photographed indoors against a gray backdrop.

Aritoki Suzuki is a staff scientist in the Physics Division. His group designs, fabricates, and tests ultra sensitive detectors and readout electronics for Cosmic Microwave Background, Dark Matter, and QIS experiments by utilizing superconductivity. He is also exploring the early universe by landing a radio receiver on the far side of the moon.

Person with medium length blonde hair wearing a hat, sunglasses, and a collared tan jacket over a white shirt, photographed outdoors.

Claire Poppett is a researcher in astrophysics at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory who specializes in Astronomical Instrumentation. She is motivated to research and develop new technical solutions necessary to build the next generation of astronomical instruments in order to answer the big questions about our universe.

DESI’s three-dimensional “CT scan” of the Universe shows colored points each representing a galaxy. Brown-haired person wearing a black collared sweater.

DESI has capped off the first seven months of its survey run by smashing through all previous records for three-dimensional galaxy surveys, creating the largest and most detailed map of the universe ever. Yet it’s only about 10% of the way through its five-year mission.

In this episode, we speak with Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter (the co-discoverer of dark energy) and rising astrophysics instrumentation scientist Claire Poppett about what we know so far, and how new technology could finally shed (metaphorical) light on this fundamental mystery.

This artist’s rendering shows LuSEE-Night atop the Blue Ghost spacecraft scheduled to deliver the experiment to the far side of the moon. The roof of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument opens up to reveal a starry night sky. Members of the LZ team in the LZ water tank after the outer detector installation. Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant construction. A large glowing laser table. CPU desktop with the contacts facing up lying on the motherboard of the PC. the chip is highlighted with blue light. Technology background