A U.S. team of researchers hunting for dark matter in a former gold mine in South Dakota, said Wednesday that the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment has proven itself to be the most sensitive dark matter detector ever created.


LUX researchers, seen here in a clean room on the surface at the Sanford Lab, work on  the detector, before it is inserted into its titanium cryostat

Announcing the first results from the test’s initial 90-day run during a seminar at the Sanford Lab in Lead, S.D., the team said they have obtained results that are “the first physics outcomes achieved since the Ray Davis solar neutrino experiment, which earned him a Nobel Prize for Physics.”

“LUX is blazing the path to illuminate the nature of dark matter,” said Brown University physicist Rick Gaitskell, co-spokesperson for LUX with physicist Dan McKinsey of Yale University.

The scientists have been working at the one-of-a-kind laboratory located at the bottom of what was once North America’s deepest gold mine, hoping to find more definitive evidence of the mysterious substance estimated to make up as much as 85% of the universe’s total matter.

“This is only the beginning for LUX,” said team leader Dan McKinsey. “Now that we understand the instrument and its backgrounds, we will continue to take data, testing for more and more elusive candidates for dark matter.”

Less than 15% of the universe is made up of conventional matter — protons, neutrons, and electrons. Most of the rest is thought to be dark matter, which cannot be seen or felt, and seems to interact weakly, if at all, with conventional matter. (Hence the nickname for dark matter particles — WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles.) Identifying the raw material of the universe is a high priority for physicists and astronomers.


Henry Sapiecha

fine gold line


Scientists in Australia are using diamonds to develop one of the world’s most advanced bionic eyes.

Nine News reports that Australian scientists are using artificial diamonds to coat a high acuity 256-electrode prototype in order to better enhance its performance.
TNS Diamonds and Watches Inc.

The bionic eye is encased in a diamond box which prevents moisture from infiltrating the device as well as harmful materials from contaminating the user’s body.

Dr Hamish Meffin of research center NICTA says that diamond is the ideal encapsulation material for the bionic device because of its durability and lack of chemical reactivity, which make it unlikely to trigger an adverse reaction in patients.

The 256-electrode device is the prototype for a far more sophisticated 1024-electrode version which will enable users to see via the connection of the electrodes to a minute three-by-three millimeter electronic chip inserted into the device.

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The prototype is being developed by Bionic Vision Australia and will undergo safety tests over the next year.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha