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Dark Matter Still a Mystery, Scientists Left Empty Handed

Jul 22, 2016 03:03 AM EDT
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Dark Matter was widely discussed and popularized in the 2007 film directed by Chen Shi-zheng. Despite its popularity, Dark Matter is yet to be discovered. Scientists have yet to get their hands on the elusive and mysterious material.

At the 11th Identification of Dark Matter Conference (IDM2016) held in Sheffield, UK, scientists claim that the search for dark matter continues. Even with studies claiming that the material takes up four-fifths' mass of the universe, a direct observation has not been done, even with the help of a super sensitive dark-matter detector.

"We're sort of proud that it worked so well and also disappointed that we didn't see anything," stated Daniel McKinsey, a physicist of UC Berkeley and also one of two scientific spokesmen of the government-funded project.

Even with the help of LUX, also known as Large Underground Xenon, which is a dark matter detector, scientists have come up empty handed. The search has gone on for more than three years and the LUX projects has cost more than $10 million. LUX is located 1.6 km underground at a South Dakota mine, which is now known as the Sanford Underground Research Facility. The detector is suspended in a titanium tank filled with 272,500 liters of purified water.

"LUX has delivered the world's best search sensitivity since its first run in 2013," said Rick Gaitskell, physicist hailing from Brown University and a co-spokesman for LUX. "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 search for dark matter still continues as there are three places where scientists continue to look for the material. In fact, for an additional $50 million, a higher version of the LUX set to be 70 times sensitive is in the plans for revamp at the South Dakota site. Operations will begin by 2020.

"Over 80 percent of our matter is in this dark matter form. You and I are the flotsam and jetsam; dark matter is the sea," stated Gaitskell, adding, "That's why one doesn't give up. We've got to figure out what this dark matter component is."

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