Brian Nord, a physicist, developed a fascination with the cosmos during his teenage years. This interest in space and astrophysics led him to pursue a BA in physics at The Johns Hopkins University and later an MS and PhD in the same field at the University of Michigan.
Nord’s curiosity expanded beyond astrophysics to cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole. He became particularly interested in dark matter and dark energy, two mysterious components of the universe that are still not fully understood. Dark matter, which makes up the majority of mass in the universe, cannot be observed directly and is only hypothesized. Dark energy, on the other hand, is an equally mysterious force that is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
For the past 15 years, Nord has been dedicated to closing the knowledge gap surrounding dark matter and dark energy. His research involves statistical modeling of galaxy clusters and their effects on light as it travels through space. By studying the distortion and magnification of light through strong gravitational lensing, Nord aims to understand the influence of dark matter on gravity and the impact of dark energy on the universe’s expansion rate.
While at the University of Michigan, Nord continued his research through a postdoctoral fellowship. He now holds a position at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and is a senior member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago.
Nord’s work in cosmology has led him to explore the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in scientific discovery. He believes that AI can provide more flexible models and analysis of cosmological data, surpassing the capabilities of human scientists. Nord is part of Fermilab’s Artificial Intelligence Project and is currently conducting research at MIT as a Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar. His focus is on utilizing AI to design new scientific experiments and instruments, aiming to accelerate the process of discovery in fields like particle physics and telescope design.
However, Nord acknowledges the ethical challenges posed by AI. While it can revolutionize scientific progress, it also has the potential for misuse. Facial recognition software and other biased algorithms are examples of the darker side of AI. Nord is committed to promoting ethical AI applications and combatting racism in STEM fields. He has been actively involved in initiatives like the academic Strike for Black Lives, co-authored the curriculum Black Light, and co-founded Change Now and Deep Skies to foster a more just and inclusive research environment.
Through his work, Nord seeks to not only understand the universe but also make a positive impact on humanity. He hopes to change the culture in academic and research environments to prioritize justice and equity. Physics has given Nord a deeper understanding of the world and his place in it, and he continues to utilize his knowledge for the betterment of society.