NPR's Science Friday

NPR's Science Friday

  • New Smart Channel

4850 Feet Below: The Hunt for Dark Matter

1w ago


Deep in an abandoned gold mine in rural South Dakota, a team of physicists are hunting for astrophysical treasure. Their rare and elusive quarry is dark matter, a theoretical particle which has never been seen or directly detected. Yet its gravitational effect on distant galaxies hints at its existence and provides ample evidence to fuel the experiments and aspirations of scientists at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. Insulated by 4,850 feet of rock, the researchers have constructed the world's most sensitive particle detector, known as the Large Underground Xenon Experiment, or "LUX." Their goal is to use this complex device to capture an epiphanous event: the interaction between dark matter and atoms inside a chilled tank of liquid xenon. If they're successful, the researchers may not only solve some of the biggest mysteries in astrophysics but affirm their faith in the nature of dark matter. "4850 Feet Below" was produced with generous support from the John Templeton Foundation.