A Matter (or Antimatter) of Physics—Amar Vutha—Canada Research Chair in Precision Atomic & Molecular Physics, University of Toronto

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May 24 2020 40 mins  
Amar Vutha is the Canada Research Chair in Precision Atomic & Molecular Physics at the University of Toronto, and he joins the show to discuss the nature of his fascinating work. In this episode, you’ll discover: What the difference is between dark matter and dark energy, why Vutha believes it’s important to figure out what each is comprised of, and how scientists are researching these topics What makes a molecule stable or unstable, and what happens when you remove some or all of the electrons from an atom How atomic clocks work, and how they are related to highly-charged ions How antimatter is made in the lab Everything we see around is—including every galaxy identified telescopically—comprises only 5% of the universe. The consensus among scientists is that this 5% of the universe is understood fairly well, but Vutha second guesses that position. Rather than the questions that can be answered in physics, Vutha is interested in the questions that cannot be answered…or at least haven’t been answered yet. By studying and conducting precision measurements of the properties of atoms and molecules, Vutha aims to understand more about how the universe and the laws of physics work. He discusses what he believes to be three of the most important unsolved problems in physics, emergent properties and energetically-favored states of molecules, how highly-charged ions are able to resist perturbation by external stimuli (and why this is useful in making atomic clocks), the absence of identifiable natural antimatter in the universe (and why scientists reason that we should be able to identify it), and so much more. Visit https://www.physics.utoronto.ca/~vutha/ to learn more about Vutha’s research.