We’ve got Higgs, let’s find the dark matter now!Thursday, July 5th, 2012 by Roberto Saracco
Yesterday was a great day for physics with the seminar at CERN announcing the identification of the Higgs boson at 5 Sigma (a very very high statistical certainty). At the same time, as I watched the seminar, scientists were saying that this is just the beginning. The Standard Model explains the part of the Universe we see, that is about 4% of what is out there (and in here!) since that very Standard Model is claiming for much more mass, so invisible to be called “darK”.
It is therefore most appropriate that other scientists are proposing to develop a sensor to precise to be able to detect the dark matter. The approach is similar to the famous Michelson Morley experiment that, by failing to find the ether, opened up a neck chapter in physics with the Einstein insight on the structure of space time.
To detect what has been undetectable so far you need a sensors that is way more sensitive that anything we ever had. And scientists from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and from Harvard in Cambridge are doing just that.
By bridging physics and genetics they are developing a thin foil of gold, as shown in the picture, to which they attach millions of DNA strands. The idea is that as the Earth rotate during the day on its axes and during the year around the sun it intercepts dark matter and some of it should push an atom of gold out of the sheet.
This atom becomes a bullet that cross the forest of DNA strands attached to the foil and cuts a few of them. The cutter strands are collected in a lower tray and once a hour they are collected and cloned billions of times through bio genetic engineering. This provides sufficient material to be analyzed and by looking at the percentage of different strands the physicists should be able to work out the path of the bullet.
By collecting millions of these paths they bet to be able to detect the dark matter. Indeed, this sensor will have a sensitivity that is billions of times greater than the best sensor we have today….
Will this experiment eventually find the dark matter or will it become a replica of the Michelson and Morley one enabling a future Einstein to explain that no dark matter was found because there is no dark matter? I just hope to be around to see this question answered.