A University of Victoria researcher, whose work on dark matter halos has influenced understanding of how galaxies form and evolve, could be on his way to a Nobel Prize.
Cosmologist Julio Navarro has been recognized as a Citation Laureate – the first for a University of Victoria researcher – by Clarivate Analytics. The designation uses data to identify highly cited researchers whose contributions to science have been influential or even transformative, deeming a researcher to be of ‘Nobel class.’ Since the designation was created in 2002, 360 researchers have been named Citation Laureates, of which 54 eventually received a Nobel Prize.
Navarro is the eighth researcher from a Canadian institution who has received the recognition.
The cosmologist grew up in northern Argentina, in what he describes as a “rather poor part of the country in the middle of the desert.” Due to high temperatures in the summer, Navarro would spend most of the summer sleeping outside. The city would experience frequent power cuts, and as the city would go dark, “the sky would start shining.”
As his eye grew accustomed to the dark, more and more stars would appear. Navarro was hooked.
“They were not the same each time I saw them—they moved all over. It seemed so crazy, but repeatable, understandable. The beauty of the dark night sky along with this kind of clockwork of the stars captured my attention. I wanted to put it all together,” he said in a statement.
When he was finishing high school, Navarro told his mother he wanted to be an astronomer, but she told him “over my dead body,” and questioned who would marry him with a career like that. Navarro was sent to study engineering, but at the same time, he was studying astronomy.
Eventually, Navarro abandoned his engineering career and focused more on astronomy.
Navarro describes dark matter and dark energy as “intellectual challenges” that defines “an entire generation of scientists.” He added that once cosmologists have a more complete understanding of these two concepts, theories that define the current understanding of physics as a whole will have to be revised and revolutionized.
”Our understanding of physics does not currently account for the concepts of dark matter and dark energy – in fact, it is exactly the opposite. In order to put it all together, we will have to revolutionize our understanding of physics today. We are deeply embedded in one of the most mysterious puzzles that humankind has ever faced.”
To read more about Navarro’s work visit uvic.ca/news/media/2020+dark-matter-julionavarro+expert-advisory.