The Higgs Boson aka the “God Particle” is the talk of the popular science community now because billions and billions of Euros were spend on the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) so that it might be discovered. But maybe more elusive in a way is the search for the source of dark matter. Dark matter is the “missing” matter that is theorized to account for 80% of the extra gravitational effects physicists observe in the universe. One class of particles that is thought to impart these massive gravitational effects are called WIMPS (Weakly Interactive Massive Particles). The problem is that while these particles are theorized to be relatively large they interact very little with other forms of matter, for example they have no electromagnetic interaction with other particles, that they cannot be detected directly.
Experiments to find these WIMPS all occur deep under ground to minimize the effect of other types of radiation. WIMPs even they they are relatively large are thought to pass right through the earth without any resistance but physicists have developed exotic detectors to discern the presence of WIMPs.
Physicists think they might have kind of detected these WIMPS in an ongoing experiment.
by Ron Cowen
Analyzing results of an experiment in a northern Minnesota mine, physicists report the possible detection of particles of dark matter — the proposed invisible material believed to account for about 80 percent of the mass of the universe. The physicists caution, however, that there’s about a one in four chance that ordinary subatomic particles, rather than dark matter, could account for the signals.
The experiment, called the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, relies on 30 detectors made of germanium and silicon crystals cooled to just above absolute zero. The detectors record tiny vibrations imparted by a proposed type of dark matter called weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. WIMPs streaming in from space would very rarely jostle the germanium nuclei, some 800 meters underground in the Soudan mine, generating a tiny amount of heat and slightly altering the charge on the detectors in a characteristic pattern.
About the only thing I promised myself this New Year is that I would spend more time going back to my scientific roots. So expect at least one article a week that is science related.