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Surprising Science

Mining the Earth for Dark Matter

Scientists who claimed to have found evidence of dark matter deep within a mine in the Gran Sassoa mountain in Italy now claim there are seasonal variations in the mysterious matter’s presence. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The DAMA experiment, a research project in the mountains of Italy, has made controversial claims about finding evidence of dark matter deep within an earthly mine. But since the laboratory caught fire on 17 March, researchers have had to content themselves by analyzing data already gathered. What they have found is that evidence of dark matter varies according to the season. “DAMA team members argue that this is because Earth’s velocity relative to the surrounding sea of dark matter changes as the planet orbits the sun,” according to New Scientist. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The existence of dark matter is one of the most perplexing questions in contemporary physics. The mysterious phenomenon remains unobservable, but its effects are seen throughout the universe. It’s existence is posited to explain why, for example, the universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate. It’s gravitational force seems to be five times that of regular, observable matter. Finding direct evidence of dark matter would be a major scientific breakthrough, and while the DAMA team claims to have found just that, it’s results are disputed by other experiments, one of which occurred in Soudan, Minnesota. 


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