Scientists are using the underground of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to try to solve the universe’s major missing mass problem.
He is enjoying his search
They are searching for the presence of particles that may have mass but hardly interact with other matter. Based on observations of the relationships between mass and gravity and the speed of the stars and other cosmological systems, scientists believe that more than 90 percent of the universe’s mass is “missing.” A portion of this “missing mass” may be what’s called dark matter.
Without dark matter of some type, scientists are unsure whether such basic theories as the Big Bang withstand modern scrutiny. Theoretical particle physics also attempts to help us understand ourselves and our place in the universe.
MIT’s Dr. Peter Fisher is leading an experiment in the WIPP underground seeking to find weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs, which pass through most other matter. WIMPs are postulated candidates for dark matter.
Example of equipment in the laboratory
The experiment’s laboratory connex was assembled in the WIPP underground in 2010. It is located next to the EXO project. Students installed a small detector in the WIPP underground and then began putting together a larger device.
“We’re looking for a particle that comes from the galaxy that can go through anything − but just happens to bump into one of the atoms in our detector,” Fisher said. “What we’re using what’s basically a refrigerant. It’s the most common thing in the world, but we’re just looking for a very rare interaction.”