This one hasn't been cheap, at about $10 million, but like the discovery of the Higgs boson — dubbed the "God particle" by some — earlier this year in Switzerland, the detection of dark matter would be a seismic occurrence in the scientific community. Scientists know dark matter exists by its gravitational pull but, unlike regular matter and antimatter, it's so far been undetectable. Regular matter accounts for about 4 percent of the universe's mass, and dark matter makes up about 25 percent. The rest is dark energy, which is also a mystery.
Sanford Lab University of California, Davis, physicist Jeremy Mock inspects the Large Underground Xenon experiment detector, cylinder at center, that has now been lowered into its 70,000-gallon home in a water tank a mile beneath the earth’s surface in a shuttered gold mine in Lead, S.D. The experiment, known as LUX, could begin collecting data on dark matter as early as February _ and, if all goes as planned, that data could answer age-old questions about the universe and its origins.
Dark Matter & Energy Documentary
Video Published on Aug 31, 2012 by DocumentaryStream
Dark matter detector nearing activation in SD mine
November 20, 2012 RSS Feed Print
By AMBER HUNT, Associated Press
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Scientists hoping to detect dark matter deep in a former South Dakota gold mine have taken the last major step before flipping the switch on their delicate experiment and say they may be ready to begin collecting data as early as February.
What's regarded as the world's most sensitive dark matter detector was lowered earlier this month into a 70,000-gallon water tank nearly a mile beneath the earth's surface, shrouding it in enough insulation to hopefully isolate dark matter from the cosmic radiation that makes it impossible to detect above ground.
And if all goes as planned, the data that begins flowing could answer age-old questions about the universe and its origins, scientists said Monday.
"We might well uncover something fantastic," said Harry Nelson, a professor of physics at University of California, Santa Barbara and a principal investigator on the Large Underground Xenon experiment. "One thing about our field is that it's kind of brutal in that we know it's expensive and we work hard to only do experiments that are really important."
This one hasn't been cheap, at about $10 million, but like the discovery of the Higgs boson — dubbed the "God particle" by some — earlier this year in Switzerland, the detection of dark matter would be a seismic occurrence in the scientific community.