Researchers have turned on the Large Underground Xenon or LUX experiment deep in the Homestake mine.
The LUX is on the hunt for dark matter – and it’s the biggest experiment of its type in the world.
SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray has this report on the LUX ‘s first few laps around the track in the global race to prove the existence of Dark Matter.
The LUX went into operation in March. Most of the first few months of the experiment have been spent calibrating the detector. This calibration helps scientists characterize the types of responses they're seeing from outside radiation – this way researchers will better know an actual Dark Matter signal if they see one. For those working on the project like Yale Physicist Dan McKinsey it’s an exciting time to be a physicist – regardless of what is found by LUX in the end.
“On one hand we’d love to be the most sensitive experiment in the world and not see anything. That in itself there is sort of bragging rights if you like to be able to say we’re the most sensitive experiment in the world even if you don’t see anything. But of course it’s even better if you do see something – that would be tremendous,” says McKinskey.
McKinsey says there isn’t much he can say about any preliminary results at this time given the competitive nature of the science – but he says the team expects to publish some initial findings by the end of this year.