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Possibly Maybe Dark Matter

For weeks, the physics world has been buzzing with rumors that dark matter--the invisible, elusive stuff that holds galaxies together--had finally been detected. Scientists behind a dark-matter-chasing machine called CDMS (you might remember it from a trip NOVA scienceNOW took back in the summer of 2008) had set up simultaneous talks at physics labs around the world, promising to reveal something new and exciting on Thursday, December 17.

So now it's Friday, December 18. What happened?

The talks went off fine, but the big announcement was something less than the "Bring on the Nobel!" moment physicists had been salivating over. It turns out that the CDMS maybe, possibly, saw two specks of dark matter. But it's also possible that it accidentally picked up the background radioactivity of the half-mile-deep cavern where it sits.

The CDMS team puts the chances of a false positive at about one in four. Before they call out "Eureka!" scientists typically want to be 99.9% sure that what they've detected is "real" and not random noise. That means they're looking for one-in-a-thousand odds of a false positive. By that yardstick, the CDMS detection falls short.

So, what next? If bigger, more sensitive detectors like Xenon and SuperCDMS pick up similar hits at congruent rates, then it might be time to pop the champagne. Until then? We wait.

User Comments:

Dark Matter? It is said that there is a large "black hole" at the center of every galaxy in the universe! I don't know, not being an astronomer, but I would guess that scientists should start trying to calculate how much "missing mass" is located inside of all those many billions of "black holes" before theorizing about the so-called "dark matter"

they'll never get their chance to pop the champaigne and discover dark matter, but they're making and wasting plenty of money looking for it in wrong ways. I'm developing a good theory that the scientific community receiving grants and funds from the taxpayers to find dark matter don't want the public to know that dark matter is carbon nanotube fibers in the halos of galaxies like the milky way shaped like a squashed beachball because the axial alignment is twice the friction perpendicular then it is longintudially.

I know that dark matter is darkness it's self
and has no light

dark matter lights up when heat hits it

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