HAZLETON, Pa. — B. Douglas Edmonds, assistant professor of physics at Penn State Hazleton, was part of a team of researchers to win a second prize in a recent annual cosmology competition.
The winners of the 2018 Buchalter Cosmology Prize were announced at the recently held 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington. The annual prize, created by Ari Buchalter in 2014, seeks to reward new ideas or discoveries that have the potential to produce a breakthrough advance in the understanding of the origin, structure and evolution of the universe.
The $5,000 second prize was awarded to Edmonds; Duncan Farrah of the University of Hawaii; Djordje Minic of Virginia Tech; Y. Jack Ng of the University of North Carolina; and Tatsu Takeuchi of Virginia Tech, for their work titled “Modified Dark Matter: Relating Dark Energy, Dark Matter and Baryonic Matter.” The paper was recognized by the judging panel as “an imaginative and courageous paper that proposes new ideas to address long unresolved fundamental questions in cosmology, proposing a form of modified dark matter that gives rise to a new MOND formulation accounting for observations at both galaxy and cluster scales.”
“We were all very pleased and honored to have our work recognized,” Edmonds said. As a graduate student at Virginia Tech, he attended a talk Ng gave, and the pair decided to collaborate. Edmonds had already studied with Minic and Takeuchi at Virginia Tech and learned of their work in dark matter during Ng’s presentation.
“The problem of dark matter is one of the most important and intriguing problems in physics right now. With the discovery of dark matter, we realized that we don't know anything at all about 85 percent of the matter in the universe and 95 percent of the mass-energy content. Dark matter, being the dominant matter component, affects the way our universe evolves. However, what intrigues me most is that we may need new physics to explain our observations,” Edmonds said.
The $10,000 first prize was awarded to José Ramón Espinosa of The Institut de Física d'Altes Energies (IFAE) and the Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Davide Racco of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and Antonio Riotto of the University of Geneva for their work entitled “A Cosmological Signature of the Standard Model Higgs Vacuum Instability: Primordial Black Holes as Dark Matter” published in Physical Review Letters.
“The 2018 prize winners are innovative works putting forth new ideas that help evolve our understanding of the universe,” said Buchalter, a former astrophysicist turned business entrepreneur who created the prize based on his own research and experience in cosmology, with the belief that fundamental new discoveries in cosmology still lie ahead, but may require challenging and breaking some paradigms accepted in the field today.
The judging panel for the prize is composed of leading theoretical physicists noted for their work in cosmology, including Ruth Gregory of Durham University, Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and Mark Trodden of the University of Pennsylvania.