School of Physical and Chemical Sciences Te Kura Matū Seminar Series

Joint SPCS lecture series - Sugars - sweet as and What is Dark Matter?

Speaker

Antony Fairbanks and Chris Gordon

Institute

School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, University of Canterbury

Time & Place

Wed, 14 Nov 2018 12:00:00 NZDT in West Room 701, Level 7

All are welcome

Abstract

This is the fourth in a series of joint school seminars showcasing SPCS research …..

Antony Fairbanks

Sugars – sweet as…

Sugars are the most abundant and diverse organic molecules on the planet. Besides their well-known functions as energy sources, or as structural components of biological systems, they play a myriad of other vital roles throughout biology.

I will discuss some of our recent work in the carbohydrate field which encompasses: arduous synthetic organic chemistry, synthetic transformations of sugars in water without protecting groups, medicinal chemistry, biocatalysis, and the production and investigation of complex glycoconjugates such as glycopeptides and glycoproteins.

 

Chris Gordon

What is Dark Matter?

Cosmology seeks to understand the large-scale structure and contents of the Universe. Current data indicate that there is a mysterious new type of matter known as “dark matter” which is about five times more numerous than ordinary matter consisting of atoms.  Dark matter appears not to interact with light or ordinary matter in any way except gravitationally. However, some theories of particle physics indicate that dark matter may also have a non-negligible interaction via the weak nuclear force. This would mean that in areas of dense dark matter concentrations (such as the centre of our Galaxy) there may occasionally be self-annihilating collisions between dark matter particles which result in the production of ordinary matter and radiation such as gamma-rays. One of my main current research interests is investigating whether there are any signs of these gamma rays. However, a major difficulty is that there are many standard astrophysical sources of gamma rays such as pulsars, which are rapidly spinning neutron stars. As I will discuss, there is currently no definitive evidence that the gamma rays coming from the Galactic Centre are due to self-annihilating dark matter particles. However, we can’ t yet confidently identify the source of all of the observed gamma rays from the Galactic Centre. The upcoming Square Kilometre Array radio telescope provides one hope of determining if the unexplained gamma rays from the Galactic Centre are coming from pulsars.