MAY 1, 2003|
Scientists aim to throw light on Dark Matter
LONDON - British scientists equipped with state-of-the-art
detectors deep underground in northern England have begun a search
for one of the most tantalising secrets of the universe - Dark
'If we are successful in our quest, then we are looking at a
place in the history books,' Dr Neil Spooner of Sheffield University
said on Tuesday. 'This will be one of the great discoveries of our
Teams of scientists around the world are racing to be the first
to discover the truth about Dark Matter, which cannot be seen
because it does not emit light. They believe it makes up the vast
majority of the universe.
Scientists say stars account for less than 1 per cent of the mass
of the universe, with gas clouds and other objects accounting for
close to another 5 per cent. No one is quite sure what makes up the
missing remainder, which has been dubbed Dark Matter.
In a bid to identify the prime suspect known as Weakly
Interacting Massive Particles, or Wimps, British scientists have
installed highly sensitive detectors 1.1 km down a salt mine at
Boulby on the North Yorkshire moors.
They are buried deep underground in an area of low natural
radioactivity, where intervening rock should shield them from
interference and filter out cosmic bombardment.
'This is an outstanding research facility equipped with some of
the world's most sensitive Dark Matter detectors,' Mr Ian Halliday,
chief executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research
Council, said in a statement.
'It is a crucial addition to Britain's resources in a research
field where British scientists are playing a world-leading role -
the race by physicists around the globe to discover these exotic, as
yet undetected, Dark Matter particles,' he added. \-- Reuters
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