Dark Matter Is Invisible: World's Most Sensitive Detector Finds Nothing

Posted: Jul 21 2016, 9:35am CDT | by , Updated: Jul 21 2016, 10:38am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

World's Most Sensitive Dark Matter Detector Finds Nothing
The view from inside the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter detector, which is nearly a mile underground below the Black Hills of South Dakota. The upgraded detector just finished its 20-month run without finding dark matter activity. Credit: Matthew Kapust. Credit: South Dakota Science and Technology Authority via Space.com
  • Quest for Dark Matter returns Nil Results

The scientific quest for the existence of dark matter has returned nil in terms of any solid results.

The supersensitive dark matter detector called the LUX has not found anything up until now. It may not give any results in the long term either. At least for now the prospects look dim and dismal.

The instrument that is termed LUX is buried deep within rocky terrain. Its nearly two year long search for dark matter has turned out to be an exercise in frustration and futility. It looks like dark matter behaves so strangely that it cannot be easily detected by our man-made devices.

The scientists presented the “All F’s Report Card” at a conference today. Dark matter is a mystery. It forms 4/5ths of the entire universe. Yet detecting its presence is something of a tall order.

LUX and the researchers connected with it have given it their best shot up until now yet they have returned from the forays and scans empty-handed. This one is a tough cookie to crack. LUX began operations three years ago. The sensitivity of the instrument of detection has been increased to four times its original value.

"LUX has delivered the world's best search sensitivity since its first run in 2013," Rick Gaitskell, a physicist at Brown University and co-spokesman for LUX, said in a statement.

"With this final result from the 2014 to 2016 search, the scientists of the LUX Collaboration have pushed the sensitivity of the instrument to a final performance level that is four times better than the original project goals."

The word LUX stands for Large Underground Xenon dark-matter experiment. It lies a mile beneath a South Dakota goldmine. The huge titanium tank holds frigid liquid xenon.

This liquid lights up and sends sparks everytime dark matter particles strike its surface. Yet so far the results have been zilch. It is yet to be seen whether the augmented sensitivity will yield any results.

The search for WIMPS or weakly interacting massive particles is still a work in progress. These particles are the best bet the scientists could make regarding the presence of dark matter.

Up until now, scientists have scoured and scanned what impinges upon the earth’s surface from the night skies. Nothing special has turned up leading to widespread pessimism among the scientists.

Nature it seems is not concerned with human wishes or fears. It is a separate entity which works according to its own inflexible standards which it can break or make on the basis of its own whims and will power.

LUX is a rare example of a lot of funds going towards a sort of wild goose chase. While one cannot say anything about the future, for now it is something which has ended up in a “Was that all?” sign of emptiness and ultimate failure.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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