JUN 28, 2019 9:30 AM PDT

A Changed Game Plan for the Dark Matter Hunt

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

(Pixabay)

Constituting 27% of the total matter-energy continuum in our universe, dark matter is a hypothetic entity that is thought to be abundant, capable of influencing ordinary matter through gravity, but shy from visible electromagnetic radiation such as light (hence the name "dark"). Physicists have long speculated that the weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs) are likely candidates for dark matter. However, after years of experimentation (e.g. the supersymmetry experiment at the Large Hadron Collider) and detection, no WIMPs have yet been discovered. 

Disappointed and perplexed, scientists are now going back to the drawing board to map out a different plan for the search of dark matter. Led by Kathryn Zurek, a theoretical physicist at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley and a pioneer the idea of low-mass dark matter, physics researchers are now contemplating with various new experiments and detecting mechanisms that are sensitive enough to capture these "light-weight" dark matter.

According to Zurek and her Berkeley colleagues, the lighter form of dark matter are wavelike ultralight particles known as axions. It could be made of one or more types of not-yet-discovered basic particles. In a DOE report, the Berkeley scientists highlighted the "Basic Research Needs for Dark Matter Small Projects New Initiatives", and listed three major priorities in the re-imagined search for dark matter. 

The first and relatively easy step to take is to utilize particle accelerators in DOE-funded facilities to create and detect dark matter particles that are below the proton mass. Given the abundance of dark matter, one would expect that there should be plenty on Earth, hidden in the plain sight (but just behind the concealed world of particles). These bombardment beam experiments, if successful, could help us unravel the origins of dark matter and its interactions with ordinary matter.

The direct detection of individual galactic dark matter particles is still on the table. But unlike the older scheme, the researchers want us to track particles that are down to a mass close to 1 trillion times smaller than that of a proton. These type of detection require, no doubt, interactions with advanced, ultrasensitive detectors. There are already underground experimental areas and equipment already in place, as noted in the report.

The last point of priority, the researchers emphasized on the detection of so-called QCD (quantum chromodynamics) axion, which was first postulated in 1977 to resolve the strong CP problem in quantum chromodynamics. With advances in theory and detecting mechanisms, scientists are now capable of probing the existence of this type of axion-based dark matter across the entire spectrum of its expected ultralight mass range.

How Close Are We to Finding Dark Matter? (Seeker)

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
MAY 17, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Here's Why it's So Critical That We Understand the Sun
MAY 17, 2020
Here's Why it's So Critical That We Understand the Sun
The Sun is just one of countless stars that exist in our universe. But it’s one of the most prominent because it&r ...
JUN 18, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Enhanced organic electrochemical transistor better measures extracellular electron transfer
JUN 18, 2020
Enhanced organic electrochemical transistor better measures extracellular electron transfer
In an article recently released in Advanced Science, scientists at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics at Linköpi ...
JUN 23, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
What is "robotic soft matter"?
JUN 23, 2020
What is "robotic soft matter"?
Research published yesterday in the journal Nature Materials describes the development of “robotic soft matter,&rd ...
JUL 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Bigger Isn't Always Better: CERN's Super Accelerator Plan Stirs Intense Debates
JUL 10, 2020
Bigger Isn't Always Better: CERN's Super Accelerator Plan Stirs Intense Debates
Let's dial the clock back in 2012.  This year was marked by a major scientific breakthrough - the discovery of ...
JUL 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Common mineral found to destroy forever chemicals in contaminated water
JUL 07, 2020
Common mineral found to destroy forever chemicals in contaminated water
You have probably heard the recent concerns about PFAS, otherwise known as per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) or fore ...
JUL 12, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Scientists mimic nacre's strength and resiliency
JUL 12, 2020
Scientists mimic nacre's strength and resiliency
Did you know that mother of pearl - also called nacre - is not only stunningly beautiful but also one of the strongest m ...
Loading Comments...