Dark Matter Particles May Have Been Detected
During two seminars at Stanford and Fermilab on Thursday, researchers described signals for two events detected deep in an old iron mine in Minnesota that might mark the first detection of dark matter — or not. The presenters said the chances that the signals they detected were caused by something other than “neutralino” dark matter particles was 23 percent. “One source indicates that we’d need less than 10 total detections within the CDMS’ range in order to have a high degree of confidence in the results.” The NY Times describes the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search methodology: “The cryogenic experiment is nearly half a mile underground in an old iron mine in Soudan, Minn., to shield it from cosmic rays. It consists of a stack of germanium and silicon detectors, cooled to one-hundredth of a degree Kelvin. When a particle hits one of the detectors, it produces an electrical charge and deposits a small bit of energy in the form of heat, each of which are independently measured. By comparing the amounts of charge and heat left behind, the collaboration’s physicists can tell so-called wimps from more mundane particles like neutrons, which are expected to flood the underground chamber from radioactivity in the rocks around it.” Here are the research team’s summary notes of the latest results (PDF).