A mile underground, in a converted mine somewhere in South Dakota, scientists have been trying to detect an elusive substance that makes up around 27 per cent of all the mass and energy in the observable universe: dark matter.
For twenty months, from October 2014 to May 2016, the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment was trying to detect dark matter. But at last week’s International Dark Matter Conference (a name I call immediate dibs on in case I start a girl band), Professor of Physics at Brown University Rick Gaitskell said: “What we have observed is consistent with background alone.”
The LUX experiment had failed. Dark matter remains as mysterious as Jess Mariano in season two of Gilmore Girls.
However, as the Sanford Underground Research Facility prepares for round two with an experiment 70 times more sensitive than LUX, now is a good time to talk about why dark matter is so darn hard to detect.
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COLLAGE BY ALEX HANSON