World's most sensitive dark matter detector set up

Jul 13, 2012 by AMBER HUNT
In this July 12, 2012, photo supplied by the Sanford Underground Laboratory, scientists slowly move the Large Underground Xenon detector toward a cavern in the now-shuttered Homestake Gold Mine in Lead, South Dakota. The experiment is the world’s most sensitive dark-matter detector. (AP Photo/Sanford Underground Laboratory)

The world's most sensitive dark matter detector settled into a new home Friday in an old U.S. gold mine.

And when it starts collecting data later this year, scientists say it could lead to another breakthrough in studies of the universe, on the scale of the recent celebration over the so-called "God particle."

"Dark matter presents a much bigger problem to detect," said Tom Shutt, a physics professor with Case Western Reserve University who's working on the Large Underground Xenon detector, known as LUX.

"If we find it, it's going to be a much bigger shift in our understanding of physics."

Scientists earlier this month announced a breakthrough in the existence of the , a that scientists believe gives other particles mass. It is sometimes called the "" because its existence is key to understanding the early evolution of the universe.

Dark matter, meanwhile, is elusive matter that scientists believe makes up about 25 percent of the universe. They know it's there by its , but unlike regular matter and antimatter, it's so far undetectable.

By discovering dark matter, scientists could explain why the universe isn't made up equally of matter and . That, in turn, could explain how the world as we know it came to be.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility was unveiled in May within a closed in South Dakota's Black Hills.

The mine is useful because dark matter is too sensitive to detect in normal laboratories. By setting up LUX deep underground, dark matter should be shielded from pesky that interferes with detection.

Moving the three-ton detector into place took time and care. It was wrapped in protective foam and plastic and rode part of the way underground on air bearings to protect it from even the slightest jiggle.

"It was a bit of a nail-biter," Yale Physics Professor Dan McKinsey said. "We always worry there might be something you didn't think of that could go wrong."

The detector could begin collecting data as early as December.

"We're all going after the same thing: We're trying to figure out what are the basic components of the universe," Shutt said.

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rah
2.7 / 5 (7) Jul 13, 2012
That's interesting. How will it know that it has detected a dark matter particle, since they do not react with anything?
sirchick
4 / 5 (5) Jul 13, 2012
That's interesting. How will it know that it has detected a dark matter particle, since they do not react with anything?


It says "So far its undetectable", doesn't mean its impossible....

Its very very rare to get a detection, but the deeper underground you go the more chance you have to find legitimate detection and not background "noise" as mentioned in the article.

Filter out as much as possible, if you still get detection of something, you can then investigate better on what it is (with hope, possibly dark matter)

It's a bit like a needle in a haystack, but go deep underground and you have less hay to shift through!

The earth's crust helps filter out alot of the radiation before reaching the detector.
sirchick
5 / 5 (5) Jul 13, 2012
Also should mention, even if we do get a detection, it doesn't mean its dark matter.
CaliforniaDave
4 / 5 (9) Jul 13, 2012
"The mine is useful because dark matter is too sensitive to detect in normal laboratories."
What, you mean it gets all shy and hides in the spare bedroom when visitors come round? Really, who writes some of this crap?
Rondo88
1 / 5 (6) Jul 13, 2012
Wasn't dark matter theorized in the same way that Einstein's Aether was?
jsdarkdestruction
3.5 / 5 (2) Jul 14, 2012
"The mine is useful because dark matter is too sensitive to detect in normal laboratories."
What, you mean it gets all shy and hides in the spare bedroom when visitors come round? Really, who writes some of this crap?

no, they mean its signal is so faint and outside interference from other things is a problem if you dont go underground where its more shielded and any possible outside influence can be eliminated as best as possible.
hagger
1 / 5 (10) Jul 14, 2012
and once found it will help us how? we are here, i am not in the least interested in how or why we got here, i am far more interested in remaining here for as long as possible, call me selfish but i would like to get up in the morning knowing people of power and knowledge are trying to work out ways of a bright long future for the planet and all it's inhabitants, instead of the present suicidal path of ' lets use and burn every thing up we have' for a stack of cash and a big stupid car, lets secure our future for the generations to come.
JGHunter
5 / 5 (9) Jul 14, 2012
and once found it will help us how? we are here, i am not in the least interested in how or why we got here,


i would like to get up in the morning knowing people of power and knowledge are trying to work out ways of a bright long future for the planet and all it's inhabitants ...


You can't do the latter without the former. Moreover, why are you on a science news website if you are not at all interested in the how and why?
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (5) Jul 14, 2012
How will it know that it has detected a dark matter particle, since they do not react with anything?

So far the theory says that dark matter are WIMPS. I.e. weakly interacting, not non-interacting.

Also should mention, even if we do get a detection, it doesn't mean its dark matter.

Much like with the Higgs boson: You first model the noise without dark matter events and then you compare to the data. If you see a bump in an area where you expect dark matter then you can see if it's statistically significant enough to not be noise.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 14, 2012
That was a rather dreadful article. Even the higgs field can predict matter/antimatter symmetry, say by way of a supersymmetric higgs. And while dark matter is ~ 20 % of the universe matterenergy content, it is an important context that it is ~ 80 % of the matter content.

Which gets me to my main peeve: It isn't "sometimes called the "God particle"" by scientists, who generally refrain. So why would a science blog mention it!?

Obligatory contextual image: http://img.gawker...inal.jpg
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
2.7 / 5 (3) Jul 14, 2012
@ rah:

It isn't about chemical reactions but about physical interactions.

CDM interacts with wavefunctions (fermion vs boson statistics), with itself (annihilates if it is its own antiparticle), with gravity (so is detectable by weak lensing), with nucleons it hits, more likely than not with the higgs field (having mass), more likely than not by weak electroweak interactions (say, weak interactions).

Weak lensing has made direct observations of galaxy cluster collision separated dark matter and now dark matter filament observations. The nuclear recoils is what this detector picks up. http://lux.brown....ent.html

@ Rondo88:

A better analogy is that it was theorized as atoms were, aiding structure formation. When Einstein coupled molecules as predicting brownian motion in the absence of liquid heat vorticity, it is the direct analogy to dark matter predicting nuclear recoil detection in the absence of light and radioactivity.
rah
2.2 / 5 (9) Jul 14, 2012
@torbjorn_Larsson_OM That report about finding filaments of dark matter is 100% fraudulent. This dark matter was not predicted by any theory, even string theory which can be written to predict anything. There is not only no proof of dark matter or dark energy, there is almost no knowledge of what the characteristics of the thing should be. All it is, is a guess of what might answer some other questions. So that so called detector they built should be called a guesstector. I hope it works of course, but more than likely it was just a wild ass proposal which ended up getting funding, so they built it. Nothing at all wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. It's just important to be honest about it. I'd rather hear them say they don't have a clue, we're just throwing a lot of stuff to see what sticks. I'd say, Go for it.
vacuum-mechanics
1 / 5 (5) Jul 14, 2012
That's interesting. How will it know that it has detected a dark matter particle, since they do not react with anything?

May be this indirect prove is possible (in the same way as it was used to prove the existence of neutrino.
http://www.vacuum...id=14=en
elektron
5 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2012
...i am far more interested in remaining here for as long as possible...


As are many others. Mercifully even 'as long as possible' is relatively brief.
typicalguy
5 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2012
@torbjorn_Larsson_OM That report about finding filaments of dark matter is 100% fraudulent. This dark matter was not predicted by any theory, even string theory which can be written to predict anything. There is not only no proof of dark matter or dark energy, there is almost no knowledge of what the characteristics of the thing should be. All it is, is a guess of what might answer some other questions. So that so called detector they built should be called a guesstector. I hope it works of course, but more than likely it was just a wild ass proposal which ended up getting funding, so they built it. Nothing at all wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. It's just important to be honest about it. I'd rather hear them say they don't have a clue, we're just throwing a lot of stuff to see what sticks. I'd say, Go for it.

90% of all statistics on the Internet are made up.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (6) Jul 16, 2012
Strange, isn't it: this dark matter exerts incredible gravitational pull on huge swathes of mass[galaxies etc.] in the universe and yet it is simultaneously supposed to be very weakly interacting and mostly unobservable.
I'd say the researchers are on a hiding to nothing and the research will ultimately eat up a lot of money and produce nothing. Furthermore they're hanging too much faith on it [dark matter ] carrying a plausible explanation for the matter/anti-matter imbalance - same as with the higgs particle. I suppose they have to try and explain it.

Once they have such an unlikely scenario[read story, because that's all it will be], they can then begin to address why there's only left-handed amino acids in biological life instead of the expected 50-50% mix of left and right-handed ones if life arose from a purely random physical/chemical reaction event. It would seem to be of the same inexplicable ilk as the other two - if one pre-suppose a purely naturalistic origin.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jul 16, 2012
Strange, isn't it: this dark matter exerts incredible gravitational pull on huge swathes of mass[galaxies etc.] in the universe and yet it is simultaneously supposed to be very weakly interacting and mostly unobservable.

Why is this strange or unbelievabnle? We know neutrinos, for example, exist. they share many of these characteristics (neigh unobservable, interact very weakly, may (or may not) have a mass).

they can then begin to address why there's only left-handed amino acids in biological life instead of the expected 50-50%

Because of evolution. If we had a creator we'd expect 50/50. With evolution you get EXACTLY what is observed: only one handedness (start off with the configuration one way by chance and the stuff will just keep on reproducing that way).

That stuff is one-handed for amiono acids in all the proteins is the strongest indication of a common ancestor there is.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Jul 16, 2012
Counting the picture's caption, even before the actual article starts they've already called this thing the "world's most sensitive" dark matter detector.

Linguistically false.

You can't have a "most sensitive" thing, which has yet to be proven to work at all (but that's beside the point), when all others are apparently completely INsensitive.

This is a set domain of one... and only if it works. There aren't comparitive superlatives in a set domain of one. "Only" trumps "Best" every time.

Now, let's pretend that this "dark matter detector" actually ends up working. In that case it would indeed be infinitely better than all the other machines which attempted said detection but failed. But it still can't be the "most" sensitive until we have at least two working machines.

Then again, maybe "sensitivity" isn't the issue here. If so, then attempting to build ever increasing sensitivity won't be the solution.
aroc91
5 / 5 (1) Jul 16, 2012
Once they have such an unlikely scenario[read story, because that's all it will be], they can then begin to address why there's only left-handed amino acids in biological life instead of the expected 50-50% mix of left and right-handed ones if life arose from a purely random physical/chemical reaction event. It would seem to be of the same inexplicable ilk as the other two - if one pre-suppose a purely naturalistic origin.


You've been informed of why L-AAs are more prevalent many times before. I've explained this to you twice already and I'm sure others have as well. UV radiation selectively destroys D-AAs, existing L-AAs isomerize D-AAs, and L-AAs are selectively crystallized by deep sea vents.

DO YOUR JOB, MODERATORS. HE'S BEEN CLEARLY TROLLING FOR YEARS. BAN HIM ALREADY.
JGHunter
1 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2012
I don't see why a creator would give 50/50 left and right any more than right handedness. I don't think there is any religious belief of a creator that has nearly as extensive explanation of the universe as we have now, in that sense there is no reason to suggest that everything that has happened, hasn't happened as desired by such a creator. Irrespective of this logical hole, evolution suggests singularly left is fairly likely. When the first DNA formed, if it formed "left-handedly" and it worked, there is no reason that it would have changed as equally as that it formed right-handedly at one point and this right handed formation merely died out, surely?