Pappalardo Fellows

Pappalardo Fellow in Physics: 2008-11

JAMES BATTAT, Pappalardo Fellow in Physics: 2008-11

Name: James Battat

Title(s): Pappalardo Fellow in Physics: 2008-11


Phone: (617) 253-2285


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Bldg. 26-429
Cambridge, MA 02139

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Area of Physics:

Experimental Astrophysics

Research Interests

James Battat uses astrophysical observations to test fundamental physics. He is a member of the Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation (APOLLO). By timing the round-trip travel of pulsed laser light from a telescope on the Earth to reflectors on the lunar surface, APOLLO measures the Earth-Moon separation to a precision of one millimeter. These observations enable tests of Einstein's General Relativity theory, Lorentz Symmetry and the existence of new fundamental forces.

His research also includes efforts to understand the nature of dark energy and dark matter which dominate the mass-energy budget of the Universe. On the dark energy front, he has worked with Christopher Stubbs and Antony Stark at Harvard to design PISCO: the Parallel Imager for Southern Cosmological Observations, a simultaneous 4-band imager for one of the 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes in Chile.  PISCO will determine the redshifts of galaxy clusters to constrain the evolutionary history of the Universe and the nature of the dark energy.

As a Pappalardo fellow at MIT, he looks forward to joining the hunt for the direct detection of dark matter using diffuse gas detectors. These novel instruments will be sensitive to the direction of arrival of interacting dark matter particles and will facilitate the discrimination between dark matter signal events and confounding backgrounds from other particles.

Biographical Sketch

James Battat is a Pappalardo Fellow in Physics at MIT. His research interests include searches for dark matter and observational tests of gravity. His Ph.D. research at Harvard employed precision lunar and planetary ranging to probe gravity in the Solar System. At MIT, he works on the DMTPC dark matter direct detection experiment. James received his Sc.B. in Physics from Brown University in 2001.

Selected Publications