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Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society

Distinguished Lectures

Dr. J. Pace VanDevender

Vice President Emeritus Sandia National Laboratories APS Fellow AAAS Fellow IEEE Senior Member


Detection of Quark-Nuggets, a Candidate for Dark Matter

Quark nuggets are theoretical objects composed of approximately equal numbers of up, down, and strange quarks and are also called strangelets and nuclearites. They have been proposed as a candidate for dark matter, which constitutes ~85% of the universe’s mass and which has been a mystery for decades. Previous efforts to detect quark nuggets assumed that the nuclear-density core interacts directly with the surrounding matter so the stopping power is minimal. Tatsumi found that quark nuggets could well exist as a ferromagnetic liquid with a ~1012-T magnetic field. This talk show that the magnetic field produces a magnetopause with surrounding plasma, as the earth’s magnetic field produces a magnetopause with the solar wind, and substantially increases their energy deposition rate in matter. The magnetopause model is used to compute the energy deposition as a function of quark-nugget mass and to analyze testing the quark-nugget hypothesis for dark matter by observations in air, water, and land. Ongoing experiments looking for Quark-Nuggets impacting the Great Salt Lake, Utah, passing by radio-frequency detectors in Albuquerque, and impacting a peat bog in Ireland are described.


photo of Dr. J. Pace VanDevender

Dr. J. Pace VanDevender is President of VanDevender Enterprises LLC and Emeritus Vice President of Sandia National Laboratories.  Prior to his retirement in 2005 to have more time for research on dark matter and self-magnetically insulated power flow, Pace served as Vice President of Science & Technology and Partnerships and Chief Technology Officer at Sandia.  Most of his technical career has been in pulsed power sciences and plasma physics.

Pace is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Fellow of the American Physical Society, and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  In 1991 he received the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Award for Physics.

He earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London, England in 1974, where he was a Marshall Scholar; an M.A. in Physics from Dartmouth College in 1971; and a B.A. in Physics from Vanderbilt University in 1969.

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