New Animated Video Ponders the Mystery of Dark Matter

Theoretical physicist Janna Levin's musings on the invisible stuff called dark matter provide inspiration for artist Daniela Sherer's imaginative illustrations in a new animated video. 

In the short movie, which is only a little more than a minute long, Sherer's illustrations play over an audio clip of Levin talking about the great mystery of dark matter, a substance that does not interact with or emit light and whose composition remains unknown. 

Sherer limited the video's color palette to black, a few shades of gray and beige, and teal. With simple line drawings, she managed to amplify Levin's thoughts about the intriguing and bizarre nature of dark matter, and then a feeling of slight dismay regarding the discovery that "regular" matter is "kind of like an ashy residue left over from the Big Bang, like we're just residual dust."

In the video, Levin says that "regular" matter makes up less than 5 percent of all matter in the universe and that dark matter constitutes 25 percent. That terminology may be a bit confusing because the other 70 percent or so is dark energy, which is the name scientists have given to the "engine" that's driving the acceleration of the universe's expansion. Albert Einstein showed that energy and mass are two different forms of the same thing, which is what the famous equation e=mc2 (e=energy, m=mass) means. So that's why a scientist like Levin some include dark energy and dark matter in the same pie chart of "matter" in the universe. 

The audio clip of Levin was pulled from the Massive audio series episode "Condensed Matters." 

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter