Pauline Gagnon, author

PI Public Lecture Series:

Title: Improbable Feats and Useless Discoveries

Abstract: As a child, Quebec native Pauline Gagnon dreamed of understanding what the universe was really made of.

As an adult, she studied exactly that, working at the largest experiment ever built, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. In her role as a Senior Research Scientist, based at Indiana University and working at CERN, she searched for dark matter particles in the decays of the famous Higgs boson, in the form of hypothetical particles called dark photons.

Now retired from active research, Gagnon is dedicated to inspiring other curious minds of all ages to ponder the same big questions that fascinated her as a child. Having worked in the CERN Communications group, she is adept at explaining the complex science of particle physics in engaging, comprehensible ways. She has delivered nearly 100 presentations to audiences in nine countries on three continents.

Gagnon’s popular science book, Who Cares about Particle Physics: Making Sense of the Higgs boson, the LHC and CERN, not only explains current issues in particle physics but also explores the importance of fundamental physics in shaping not only our understanding of the universe, but in shaping society as well.

In her November 8 Perimeter Institute Public Lecture, Gagnon will explore the incredible (and improbable!) feats of ingenuity and cooperation that have led to one of humanity’s greatest experiments, and why such pioneering research, albeit “useless” in terms of everyday practicality, has changed the way we live and is vital to our collective future.


Attendance to the lecture is free, but advance tickets are required. Due to the overwhelming response to past lectures, tickets will be honoured until 6:45 pm only. If you have not arrived by 6:45 pm your reservation may be filled by guests in our waiting line, and you may be asked to join the end of the waiting line.

Doors open at 5:30 pm

Pre-Lecture Activities (tickets not required):

Black Hole Bistro - dinner and/or drinks:

RESERVATIONS ARE required for food service in the Black Hole Bistro and can be made at Dinner reservations will be scheduled between 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm for those with tickets and later for those watching the lecture in the Bistro.

Ask a Scientist?

Perimeter scientists will be on hand to answer physics questions from 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

There will be a waiting line for last minute cancelled (or ‘no show’) seats on the night of the lecture. Doors open at 5:30 pm. Come to Perimeter and pick-up a waiting line chit at the Waiting Line sign and then participate in pre-lecture activities - no need to wait in line. An announcement will be made in the Bistro at 6:45 pm if theatre seats are available. Note: you must arrive in person to be part of the waiting line and be in the Bistro when the waiting line announcement is made.

Everyone who comes to Perimeter will be able to participate in the lecture. The public lecture will be shown simultaneously on closed circuit television in the quiet of the Time Room or the licensed comfort of the Black Hole Bistro for any members of the waiting line who are not able to get a theatre seat.