Scientists hope to detect that rare event when a particle of dark “stuff” bumps into regular matter

As dark matter particles steam through the detector, scientists hope that a few will collide with the argon atoms. This will generate two flashes of light – one in the liquid argon and another in the gas – which will be detected by the receptors.

“The feeling is that dark matter could be just around the corner, so everybody is rushing to be the first to find it”
Stefano Ragazzi
Director, Gran Sasso National Lab

5 February 2013 Last updated at 22:58 ET

Dark Matter: Experiment to shed light on dark particles

By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC World Service

In a man-made cavern, deep beneath a mountain, scientists are hoping to shed light on one of the most mysterious substances in our Universe – dark matter.

The Gran Sasso National Laboratory seems more like a Bond villain’s lair than a hub for world class physics.

It’s buried under the highest peak of Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain range; the entrance concealed behind a colossal steel door found halfway along a tunnel that cuts through the mountain.

But there’s a good reason for its subterranean location. The 1,400m of rock above means that it is shielded from the cosmic rays that constantly bombard the surface of our planet.

It provides scientists with the “silence” they need to understand some of the strangest phenomena known to physics.

Inside three vast halls, a raft of experiments are running – but with their latest addition, DarkSide50, scientists are setting their sights on dark matter.

Everything we know and can see in the Universe only makes up about 4% of the stuff that is out there.

The rest, scientists believe, comes in two enigmatic forms.

Read more: BBC News – Dark Matter: Experiment to shed light on dark particles.

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