https://safirsoft.com The Quiet Search for Dark Matter Deep in the Earth

Where the author travels to South Dakota to visit the gold mine - Lux.

It is not one of the quietest and darkest places in the universe in the depths of space. In the center of a cold liquid xenon reservoir is a gold mine deep in the Black Hills, South Dakota. It must be very quiet: any stray particle can confuse the tank's internal detectors. These detectors look for weak and rare signals, which are signals that can detect the presence of dark matter.

Update, September 6, 2021: It's Labor Day in the US, and although most of us still call it the "office" home, Ars employees spend a long weekend resting and relaxing. And since we can't travel the Labor Day weekend like we used to, we thought we'd review one of our favorite trips from the archives. Our adventure story for the Large Underground Xenon Dark Matter Experiment (LUX) in South Dakota originally ran in July 2014 and appears below unchanged.

The complete set - the xenon liquid and gaseous container, the water tank covering it and all the detectors - is called the large underground Xenon Dark Matter (LUX) test. So far, LUX hasn't found anything, but its working days are just beginning: the detector was installed and started working last year.

Although LUX is still relatively young, it has set many standards for dark matter particles. When I visited the center, he was preparing to collect the following data, which includes 300 days of continuous work. had become. The scale and sensitivity of the experiment, the commitment of its designers to understanding noise sources, and the relative simplicity of the detector give much hope that if dark matter is found, they will find LUX or its replacement.

(I use "Detector" to describe LUX as a whole, as well as the separate photon detectors that make up the end of the experiment. I hope the context is clear.)

The LUX test is inside a metal tank containing 71,600 gallons of pure water. Therefore, the xenon detector is invisible. The bottom left is Rick Gaitskell, LUX researcher. LUX test inside a metal tank that holds 71,600 gallons of pure water, so it can For the xenon detector is not observed. Heading left is RIC Gaitskell, LUX Researcher. Matthew R. Francis, for example, if dark matter does not interfere with ordinary matter by any measure that our experimental intelligence is now reaching, then LUX would not matter, no matter how complex the experiment. He is.

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Rick Getskell is a research lead at LUX, and a professor at Brown University in the United States. (Born and educated in England, he bequeathed his exceptional choice of a green three-piece shirt with bright red stockings.) He told Ars, "I've been searching for dark matter for 27 years. We've had so many results. Years that we either haven't seen or seen anything or Two last things that actually seemed very exciting, because at first it showed a lot of features that might be associated with the dark matter interaction.” However, none of this has been confirmed by subsequent experiments—most of which now have trivial explanations.

This frustration in the past is part of what triggered Gateskill. When he came to the conclusion that he would probably never succeed, he gave up on another experiment: the detection rate, according to calculations, per kilogram of detectors is likely to be less than one particle of dark matter per century. For most detectors, this means that the cost is very high. If you want to find dark matter on the scale of a year or two, you need a detector with a mass of several metric tons. But crime is where LUX and its siblings excel - like the XENON100 test at Gran Sasso in Italy. There are many benefits to using xenon as a detector, including the ability to be highly buildable. Tiny paper unicorns sitting on racks of servers and other equipment. "src="https://safirsoft.com/picsbody/2109/10002-2.jpg"alt="https://safirsoft.com Nice search for dark matter deep in the earth"> The LUX lab room contains little paper unicorns sitting on a server rack to learn how to use LUX Dark matter hunts, I decided to visit the lab and see for myself. This isn't exactly the place to think about physics.

I arrived in South Dakota at the height of the dead of winter, and by the end of March, the black hills were still covered in snow, but the weather The warmer ones bring in some cool spots in the spring.To be able to cover my rental car during a day underground in LUX, the Black Hills are miniature mountains and steep rocky peaks that rise from elevations down the front slopes of the larger Rocky or Teton. That is, they are mountains containing It's all: sudden blizzards, gates that can block roads in extreme weather, signs of "rockfall" everywhere.

LUX is part of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), now extinct in Homestake Gold Mine in Lead City.(The sense of humor quickly faded at the gold mine in Pb. Call it "led," not like metal.) The entire area uses the Wild West past, especially the nearby town of Deadwood. Every hotel and gas station with countless slot machines and billboards in casinos promotes big payouts. South Dakota generally has unique bulletin board rules because anyone who crosses the state knows. Signs of Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, and other tourist destinations are almost dwarfed. Following this trend, the lab has its own drug marking wall marking a distance of 97 miles horizontally and 2,037 feet vertically. Advertising

By advertising standards, Sanford and LUX are relatively small, and the lab is not generally open to the public. To get there, I had to drive through residential neighborhoods using steep (and at that time of year) streets filled with snow. Since access to the lab's basement required the installation of metal lifts - known as "cages" - I had to show up at 6 am for safety training. Even with the time difference somewhat in my favour, it was still too early to work, although I was better than the BBC crew traveling from the UK.

The safety session largely includes a video that tells us what to do if we need to evacuate the lab. We signed the waiver, and even had to assure that we would be making "smart choices", something that would seem pointless to ask a number of inexperienced journalists among them. Finally, before landing, we had to put on rubber boots with steel toes, special clothing, goggles, hard hats with lanterns, and a special emergency respirator attached to a heavy tool belt. At the end of the process, we created an attractive looking crew.

The cages themselves are large enough for about 15 people and have a ground track for mining wagons. They have no interior lights, so during the 10-minute descent, several crews turned on their helmet lanterns. (This isn't a trip for those with claustrophobia.) Even the motors that move the cage up and down are old: They were built in 1939, and the wire reels are made of cast iron. The scales showing the position of the lifts are large dials with pointers, which is another fun analog touch.

Getskell brought the plane's altimeter into our cage to show in real time how low we'd land. Since the top of the mine is about one mile above sea level and the lab is about one mile underground, we've come to the elevation of my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. My ears have definitely detected a change in air pressure.

Although the style is rustic, the lab itself is a typical and elegant centerpiece: all the sleek pipes, metal stairs, and tile floors. The usual supplies for office life are plentiful. There are computers, whiteboards, water coolers, (basic lab equipment) and espresso machines underground. "You forgot you were underground," Sally Shaw, a doctoral student at University College London, told me. Additionally, the researchers decorated the lab with a personal touch. A warning sign advises visitors not to feed the scholars, and when I looked around, I saw several paper pods placed on different shelves. The pods may have started as a boring night project, said Shaw, but it has become an inside joke. After all, searching for dark matter is like searching for unicorns.

The Quiet Search for Dark Matter Deep in the Earth
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