Hunting Dark Matter In A Mine.

At one of the Riverside Astronomical Society meetings, one of our members showed some pictures he took while in Minnesota of a deep mine dark matter experiment being conducted in an abandoned mine at Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

Image credit: Aaron Fulkerson

Being that he was a geologist as well as an amateur astronomer, he got double his moneys worth on the tour.  I for one am not going down a hole 1/2 mile under the Earth…space yes…holes no.

Because no one knows what dark matter particles look like, it is very difficult to search for them.  However, scientists working on the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiment (CDMS) are now looking at dark-matter particle mass and rate of interaction smaller than ever before.

Adam Anderson, an MIT graduate student in physics, is heading the team that is using new sensor technology to get better results than any other CDMS detector used before.

Although they haven’t found dark matter (yet), the new detector technology will help in the search.  Purportedly, dark matter does not (some say ignores) regular matter altogether…except for a few interactions.

So why drop the experiment down a hole?  The mine shields the experiment from cosmic rays that could clutter the detector as it searches for passing dark matter particles.  Although keeping the experiments cool at those depths is probably a larger challenge.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.


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