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Space Science

Searching For Dark Matter From Deep Under an Italian Mountain 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-on-your-glasses dept.
Zothecula writes "Like the Higgs Boson, dark matter is one of those things in the Universe that evidence points to, but is very difficult to pin down. A team of researchers is looking to verify the existence of this most elusive of ingredients that is thought to make up 23 percent of the Universe using powerful detectors buried deep in an Italian mountain. The DarkSide-50 project is an international collaboration between Italian, French, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and Chinese institutions, as well as 17 American universities. The project team spent last (Northern hemisphere) summer assembling the detector in a laboratory deep within the Gran Sasso mountain, which is accessed via an exit off a six-mile (9.6 km) long highway tunnel in Italy."
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Searching For Dark Matter From Deep Under an Italian Mountain

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  • Terrible summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @04:52AM (#46054533)

    To be clear, dark matter is nothing like the Higgs-Boson. The Higgs was predicted to be within a specific energy range and to decay along a specific subset of paths. The LHC was designed to reach or exceed the energy range of the Higgs and to detect its decay once it appeared. The Higgs appeared within the range predicted, decayed like predicted, and everything is fine and right with the world of predicted and accepted particle physics so far as everyone is concerned.

    Dark Matter on the other hand, is something which is not predicted by any theory we currently have. Its existence is only inferred by seemingly missing mass from galaxies and some astronimical observations that suggest this mass may be in the form of seemingly invisible matter that we have no currently confirmed way of detecting other than looking at the effect it seems to have on gravity. Heck we don't even know if it is matter to begin with, at least as we know it, but that' the closest thing we can infer other than it seems to be invisible and so the name "dark matter".

    Candidates of what dark matter is have been suggested. Or rather, quite vague candidates have. The most popular is the "WIMP" or "Weakly Interacting Massive Particle" that may or may not interact via the weak force at all, may have an energy/mass equivelance of who knows, and should for your guess is as good as mine not interact at all with the electromagnetic force or the strong force. Except we've built detectors, more and more of them with higher sensitivity and so far the only thing that's come back are what seems to be statistical errors.

    So, really they're pretty much the opposite. Dark Matter is largely a mystery who's properties are at best hoped to be like the physics we already know and understand, and the detector mentioned hopes that this hope is correct and that it will be. The other is a particle that was predicted decades ago, had an extremely solid theoretical understanding and backing, and who's detector was build largely with the expectation that it would turn up as predicted, which it did.

  • Re:Terrible summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Friday January 24, 2014 @05:35AM (#46054639)

    I think you're being unfair to the submitter here; all they suggested was that the Higgs and dark matter alike have been difficult to tease out. That one's an issue of generating a large enough instrument to detect something we're very sure exists, and one's an issue of explaining the existence of something that we can see but not understand, is an excellent teaching point, and you've done a great job there.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday January 24, 2014 @07:44AM (#46055087) Homepage Journal

    The country were seismologists are thrown in jail because the can't asses the risks of earthquakes

    False. They were thrown in jail for their false claims.

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