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A woman looks at an artwork, with many lines of white light on a dark background representing matter and antimatter ;

Mediating DARK MATTER at Science Gallery London

13 December 2019

Science Gallery London's summer season, DARK MATTER, explored the 95 percent of the universe that remains missing. Physics student Mohyuddin Patel reflects on his role as a mediator for the exhibition and events, communicating some of mysteries of the Universe that physicists explore to visitors.

My initial reaction to the DARK MATTER exhibition was that it felt like a marriage between contemporary art and a modern problem in physics. As exciting as this was, I must admit I was slightly scared by the prospect of having conversations about contemporary art and the more philosophical questions that it would bring. However, during the course of the exhibition I have become more confident in discussing this, as I’ve been able to draw a parallel between the two. This was through discussing them in the same breath, as dark matter is a fairly exotic area within physics which leads to rise of many different theories. I was able to use this as a link to contemporary art and the more philosophical aspects.

Two people sit on a beanbag in front of a geometric artwork in a dark room

Mirror Matter by Emilija Škarnulytė

 

Being a Mediator is unlike any other job I’ve had. Each conversation you have in the Gallery with visitors is unique and you really get talk to and meet some interesting people. During my brief time here, I have met people who worked at CERN several years ago and people just curious about science - this is one of the many reasons why I enjoy the role.

Additionally, despite having studied physics for the past three years I haven’t really had the opportunity to communicate about the fascinating problems which are faced by physicists – like dark matter – to people outside of a physics background. Being a Mediator has given me the opportunity to talk to people about a subject that I’m passionate about.

At first, I thought communicating about a rather abstract theory such as dark matter would be difficult, however the curiosity of visitors has been surprising. This has led to interesting questions being asked - one being would it be possible to create a miniature version of our universe in a box? This was in reference to the amazing piece Through the AEgIS by Semiconductor, an animation created from images of the collisions between matter and antimatter.

A woman looks at an artwork, with many lines of white light on a dark background representing matter and antimatter

Through the AEgIS - Semiconductor


Moreover, the willingness of visitors to understand and listen about the physics has been surprising. I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the standard model, the fundamental forces and even a bit of general relativity.

Coloured post-it notes under a question asking

The DARK MATTER exhibition invites us to think about the mysteries of the Universe and our search for the unknown. I do think we’ll eventually find dark matter, maybe in about 50 years’ time. We may even find new things we didn’t know where out there while looking for it. But the question everyone asks, does it even matter? Well to the physicists, like me, of course it does! It may unlock the door to whole new realm of science we didn’t even know existed. I guess we will just have to wait and see…

Science Gallery London connects art, science and health to drive innovation in the heart of the city. You can visit the current season ON EDGE: Living in an Age of Anxiety at their London Bridge home until 19 January 2020.

You can also explore the season's free events here.

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