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Underground Lab May Solve Cosmic Mystery

Science & Tech  (tags: science, research, interesting, discovery, dark matter, nasa, study, technology, scientists, universe, Big Bang, neutrinos, SNOLAB )

- 2196 days ago -
A new astronomical observatory opened this week - one more than 2 kilometres below the ground in Sudbury, ON, Canada - that may finally answer the mystery of Dark Matter in the universe.

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Michael O (176)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 5:54 am
By Bob McDonald, Quirks & Quarks

SNOLAB will attempt to capture the elusive Dark Matter particles as they pass right through the Earth.

Dark Matter has been observed for decades throughout the universe as mysterious clouds of invisible material between the stars and surrounding entire galaxies. While it can't be seen it does have mass, so it exerts a gravitational pull that affects the movement of stars, and it can bend light through an effect called gravitational lensing.

Astronomers estimate that Dark Matter makes up about a quarter of all the mass in the universe. They call it dark because they don't know what it is. They do suspect that it's made of different stuff than we are. And while we can't see Dark Matter, it doesn't see us either.

SNOLAB will take advantage of the fact that Dark Matter particles do not interact with regular matter. They see the Earth as light sees a window, passing right through our planet and out the other side, as if it wasn't there. That means there are millions of these particles passing through your head at this very moment.

The only other particles known to pass through the Earth are neutrinos, which come from the sun and have been detected by the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), which has been operating at the same location underground for more than a decade.

SNOLAB instruments will attempt to detect the passage of Dark Matter particles as they flow through the solid rock. One instrument, called Picasso, will use a gel, containing an unstable liquid that is expected to form bubbles, like those in carbonated drinks, when a Dark Matter particle passes through.

This writer thinks they should change the name of that instrument to the Sudbury Underground Detection System, or SUDS (and what's more Canadian than "suds"?).

The scientists are hoping to see a Dark Matter wind coming from one direction in space, caused by the motion of the Earth as we travel around the sun and around the Milky Way Galaxy. Seeing this cosmic wind is the equivalent of sticking our hand out the window of our speeding spaceship Earth.

Solving the mystery of Dark Matter is the most fundamental science, driven by curiosity about the nature of the universe around us. It underlines the fact that, even today in the 21st century, most of the universe remains unknown to us.

Dark Matter, along with Dark Energy (an unknown force pushing the universe apart), together make up more than 95 per cent of the fabric of the universe. In other words, we only understand about 5 per cent of what's out there. And we thought we were so smart.

Canada is world class when it comes to basic science, and even though our government has cut back on environmental science and closed research labs, they stuck behind SNOLAB, along with three Canadian universities and governments of other countries, to make this unique project happen. It's that important.

Discovering the nature of Dark Matter won't produce a new product that will make millions, but it will be another giant leap in our understanding of the universe that goes right back to ancient astronomers, who first noticed patterns in the stars and gave them the names of gods. And it is from that basic pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowing it that has led to every major discovery that improves our lives today.

And it's happening right here in Canada. So let's raise a glass of "suds" to SNOLAB.

Sue Matheson (79)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 6:26 am
gotta love it. in all the place of the world, this would be possible in Sudbury!

mar l ene dinkins (264)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 1:22 pm
noted and very interesting thnx

David C (131)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 1:38 pm

M B (62)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 1:43 pm
Interesting, thanks.

Past Member (0)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 5:24 pm
Noted. Thanks.

Ioannes J (1)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 6:48 pm
Dark Matter might be spiritual dimension. : )

Wondering is safe playing with Dark matter of the universe? Imaging scientist can clone Dark matter in couples of years similar to genes cloning of DNA. Scary parts alter the universe Human playing GOD.

Glamour Girlcat (32)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 6:59 pm
Food for thought and SUDS to go with it! Thank you for posting, Michael.

Robert Hardy (68)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 9:16 pm
This is a great mystery. It makes me wish I was a scientist.

Quanta Kiran (67)
Sunday May 20, 2012, 10:37 pm

Past Member (0)
Monday May 21, 2012, 3:30 am
thank you

Phil P (94)
Monday May 21, 2012, 2:14 pm
Appreciate the enlightenment.

Robert O (12)
Monday May 21, 2012, 3:19 pm
Very interesting. Thank you Michael.

Nelson Baker (0)
Monday May 21, 2012, 5:52 pm

Lois Jordan (63)
Monday May 21, 2012, 8:30 pm
Thanks for posting this, Michael! This is so interesting. There is so much that we don't know...I just hope the results will be published and spread widely for us all to learn.

Robert Hardy (68)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 1:23 pm
Cool stuff. Oh if we were just a bit smarter!
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