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Dark matter detector reports hints of WIMPs

Three candidate signals in experiment hundreds of meters underground deemed very preliminary, and exciting

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7:47pm, April 15, 2013

DENVER — Ultracold crystals designed to catch particles of dark matter deep underground have come up with three potential detections, physicists reported April 13 at a meeting of the American Physical Society.

The researchers do not have enough evidence to say they have discovered dark matter particles, but the finding qualifies as a rare clue in the frustrating quest to understand the universe’s most elusive substance.

“We do not believe this result rises to the level of discovery,” said Kevin McCarthy, the MIT physicist who made the announcement. “But it does call for further investigation.”

Dark matter has confounded scientists since the 1930s. A galaxy’s stars, gas and dust cannot account for all of its mass, so astronomers think that some sort of elusive matter that does not absorb or emit light must outweigh ordinary matter by more than 5 to 1. Because astronomers cannot actually see dark matter, they have no idea what it’s made of.

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