Work begins on world's deepest underground lab

June 22, 2009 By DIRK LAMMERS , Associated Press Writer

Dignitaries and board members applaud South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, at the podium, during dedication ceremonies Monday, June 22, 2009, at the future site of the Sanford Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. The event occurred at the 4,850 foot level of the former Homestake gold mine at Lead, S.D. In the near future, scientific experiments dealing with dark matter and numerous other ideas will be set up in the mine shafts nearly a mile underground, shielded from cosmic rays. (AP Photo/Steve McEnroe)
(AP) -- Far below the Black Hills of South Dakota, crews are building the world's deepest underground science lab at a depth equivalent to more than six Empire State buildings - a place uniquely suited to scientists' quest for mysterious particles known as dark matter.

Scientists, politicians and other officials gathered Monday for a groundbreaking of sorts at a lab 4,850 foot below the surface of an old gold mine that was once the site of Nobel Prize-winning physics research.

The site is ideal for experiments because its location is largely shielded from that could interfere with efforts to prove the existence of dark matter, which is thought to make up nearly a quarter of the mass of the universe.

The deepest reaches of the mine plunge to 8,000 feet below the surface. Some early geology and hydrology experiments are already under way at 4,850 feet. Researchers also hope to build two deeper labs that are still awaiting funding from Congress.

"The fact that we're going to be in the Davis Cavern just tickles us pink," said Tom Shutt of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, referring to a portion of the mine named after scientist Ray Davis Jr., who used it in the 1960s to demonstrate the existence of particles called solar neutrinos.

Davis and a colleague named John Bahcall won a share of the 2002 Nobel Prize for physics for their work.

The old Homestake Gold Mine in a community called Lead (pronounced LEED) was shut down in 2001 after 125 years. Pumps that kept the mine dry were turned off years ago, so workers have been drying it out to prepare for the new research.

Before the labs are built, crews must also stabilize the tunnels and install new infrastructure. The lab at 4,850 feet is not much to look at yet. A rusty orange film covers the walls, floors, ceilings and debris left behind by miners.

The first dark matter experiment will be the Large Underground Xenon detector experiment - or LUX - a project to detect weakly interacting particles that could give scientists greater insight into the Big Bang explosion believed to have formed the universe.

Shutt, along with Brown University's Rick Gaitskell and nearly a dozen collaborators will work at the site to search for dark matter, which does not emit detectable light or radiation. But scientists say its presence can be inferred from gravitational effects on visible matter.

Scientists believe most of the dark matter in the universe contains no atoms and does not interact with ordinary matter through electromagnetic forces. They are trying to discover exactly what it is, how much exists and what effect it may have on the future of the universe.

Physicists have said that without dark matter, galaxies might never have formed. By learning more about dark matter, they hope to understand better whether the universe is expanding or contracting.

The research team will try to catch the ghostly particles in a 300-kilogram tank of liquid xenon, a cold substance that is three times heavier than water. If they tried to detect above ground, the highly sensitive detector would be bombarded by cosmic radiation.

Scientists hope to start construction on the two deepest labs by 2012 and open them by 2016. The projects are expected to cost $550 million.


On the Net:

Sanford Underground Lab

Homestake DUSEL:

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1.8 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2009
and if they don't find any dark matter will they go back to the drawing board or and add another patch to the theory?
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2009

This facility can be used to confirm/deny neutron-decay in the Iron Sun !

In 2001, I tried unsuccessfully to stop flooding of the old Homestake Gold Mine where Ray Davis used reactions on chlorine (Cl) to detect solar neutrinos.

Solar Neutrino on Cl-37 --> Detectable Ar-37

The same detector chlorine detector can be used to detect anti-neutrinos produced by neutron-decay in the Sun:

Neutron --> Proton, Electron, Anti-neutrino
Solar Anti-neutrino on Cl-35 --> Detectable S-35

See: "The need to measure low energy,
anti-neutrinos (E < 0.782 MeV) from the Sun",
Physics of Atomic Nuclei 67, 1959-1962 (2004)
Yadernaya Fizika 67, 1983-1988 (2004)

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
3 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2009
OK, nobody said it, so I will.

Black Mesa !!!!!
4.3 / 5 (4) Jun 25, 2009

Its not imaginary. Dark energy might be. The question about Dark Matter is what is it made of and how much is there. Much of the early ideas on Dark Matter were based on the idea that the Universe is nearly closed or rather that it is on the tipping point between closed and open. Since no one could see enough matter to even come near closing the Universe Dark Matter was invoked.

And I think Invoked is the proper term here since the evidence is growing that the Universe is open. However dark matter of some sort still seems to be needed to account for the movement of galaxies. The question is whether its has a exotic matter component or not. The amount needed to explain movement of galaxies is nearly an order of magnitude less than that needed to close the Universe.

Of course if you only mean that Dark Matter in the exotic matter sense is imaginary its possible that you are right. The real answer is still in the future.



Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.

QubitTroll will be released from my sig at the end of June.
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 26, 2009

It is far better to spend our time and the public's funds measuring things that we understand, especially if the measurement will provide information on something of great concern to the public. E.g., the heat source that sustains life here on planet Earth.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
1.8 / 5 (4) Jun 28, 2009
How about Plasma not dark matter? I Just read a great article on
I think you kids really ought look into these Electric Universe theories. They make sense in explaining much of the phenomena that occurs in our cosmos.
Although we do not know the ultimate source of these intergalactic currents the magnetic fields they produce can be mapped by radio telescopes.

5 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2009
The return of Yep. Nothing New And Nothing Improved.

Although we do not know the ultimate source of these intergalactic currents the magnetic fields they produce can be mapped by radio telescopes.

Show some evidence for them. Even on the site you posted, there is none. Just frequent claims that they exist but no actual evidence for them.



Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.

QubitTroll will be released from my sig at the end of June.
2 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2009
Here is an article talking about them though I do not agree with the big bang or red shift premiss http://www.astron...aspx?c=a&id=7227
This ones even better although they believe in your dark energy
5 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2009
This ones even better although they believe in your dark energy

Since when is Dark Energy mine? I neither came up with it nor do I promote it.

Link number one is broken.

Perhaps this is what you tried to get:


In any case the page I eventually wound up on didn't have anything supporting the alleged inter-galactic Birkenstock, or whatever the word really is, currents. It just says that early galaxies have higher fields than they expected.

The second link didn't break. It may be the "&" in the link that is the problem.

The closest thing that I can find to what you want is:

These galaxies will appear so closely spaced on the sky that we will be able to use their polarised radio emission to make detailed studies of the magnetic field throughout the Universe, perhaps even in %u2018empty%u2019 intergalactic space.

Notice that is not evidence. Its a set of maybes about measuring intergalactic space for magnetic fields. No actual expectation of finding such a thing just that it may become possible to test for it.

I don't have any problem with the idea that magnetic fields have effected the universe to a greater degree than most think. Its the idea of electric currents magically producing energy without an actual source for the energy.

Every bloody one of the Plasma Universe sites thinks energy can generated without a source. Dynamos do NOT create energy. They convert it. The energy has to come from somewhere. Fusion fits that in stars. Gravitational collapse fits it in other cases.

The site you first linked to had an absolutely ludicrous idea about supernovas. Somehow, without even bothering to make a magical pass of bullshit laden hands, the author claimed that it is due to charge separation. No reason or rhyme or evidence to support charge separation just a bland claim that it occurred. Apparently by wishing real hard. That site is load with that sort of crap.



Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.

QubitTroll will be released from my sig at the end of June.
5 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2009
Yes, it is the '&' that is breaking the link.



Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.

QubitTroll will be released from my sig at the end of June.

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