Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Huge Dark Matter Experiment Finds Nothing but More Mysteries

A view of the bottom of the LUX detector. Image: luxdarkmatter/Flickr
A view of the bottom of the LUX detector. Image: luxdarkmatter/Flickr
The hunt for dark matter just keeps getting more confusing. Today scientists released findings from the first three months of the Large Underground Xenon experiment, which looks directly for the invisible particles thought to make up dark matter.

Many physicists hoped that the highly anticipated results would clear up the situation surrounding dark matter experiments, which have so far led to contradictory conclusions about the nature of the mysterious substance. Some thought that LUX might show them which way to go, narrowing the types of particles they might pursue. Instead, the experiment turned up empty.

“Basically, we saw nothing. But we saw nothing better than anyone else so far,” said particle physicist Daniel McKinsey of Yale, a member of the LUX collaboration.

It might appear strange to the rest of us, but a null finding is actually encouraging for physicists, who will use the results to set stringent limits on what kind of dark matter they might expect to find in the future. It also seems to rule out the results of several previous experiments, which had seen hints of what might be dark matter.

For the rest of the story: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/10/lux-dark-matter/

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