Associate Professor Duffy uses supercomputers as a virtual laboratory, creating baby universes, watching as galaxies like our own Milky Way form from basic ingredients like atoms, using simple ‘recipes’ (or laws) like gravity. From these simulations though it’s clear we need something extra, a special ingredient to hold the galaxies together. This ingredient is Dark Matter and it outweighs all the atoms in all the stars and planets combined, five times over. It’s not only invisible but slips through solid matter unnoticed, except for incredibly rare direct collisions with a nucleus. Spotting this rare collision is what he and colleagues in Australia, Italy and USA are attempting to find with SABRE, the world’s first dark matter detector in the Southern Hemisphere.
Alan, has engaged with thousands of students in individual school talks as well as larger national events, he has also taught new curriculum topics like cosmology and aboriginal astronomy to high-school teachers. He has been part of larger science events such as TEDx at Sydney Opera House and co-staring in national TV shows such as Brian Cox’s Stargazing Live. He is also a regular on Ten’s The Project and ABC’s Breakfast News as well as doing extensive interviews for public and commercial radio.