from the world's big
Scientists discover a new way to search for dark matter
Have we already found dark matter? It may be hiding in existing data, says a study.
- A new study proposes to look for dark matter during the process of scattering.
- The scientists think dark matter indicators could be hiding in existing data.
- The researchers aim to adapt current experiments to find the elusive particles.
Dark matter is famously supposed to take up 27% of the existing mass-energy of the universe. Dark energy eats up another 68%, while ordinary matter and energy that includes us accounts for just about 5%, scientists estimate. But if so much of everything is taken up by dark matter and dark energy, where are they? Neither has been conclusively detected, but a new study proposes a fresh way to spot dark matter signatures, looking in data we already gathered.
The study, led by researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley, found that it may be possible to detect dark matter signals during scattering. This process occurs when dark matter particles collide with atomic nuclei, producing small flashes of light and other potentially noticeable indicators. The scientists think they can pinpoint such moments and capture dark matter by looking for ejected electrons, neutrinos or other signs.
The study suggests that some currently existing experiments can be adapted to search for these kind of signals that relate to how the dark matter energy is absorbed.
The scientists also propose they can look through particle detector data that's already been gathered to find dark matter characteristics.
The study's lead author, postdoctoral researcher Jeff Dror from Berkeley Lab's Theory Group and UC Berkeley's Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics, explained that "You can make a huge amount of progress with very little cost if you step back a little bit in the way we've been thinking about dark matter."
Photomultiplier tube arrays prepared for the LUX-ZEPLIN experiment. Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota.
Credit: Matt Kapust/SURF
The researchers hope their approach can lead to new avenues in the search for the elusive dark matter. One plan is to focus on discovering light fermions, which may be related to the so-called "sterile neutrinos" – another theorized particle.
Most conducive to re-adapting, according to the scientists, would be existing experiments involving large, highly-sensitive detector materials with low background "noise" or interference. One such contraption could be the ultra sensitive UX-ZEPLIN (LZ), a dark matter search project currently under construction in a former South Dakota mine.
Another possibility is try the new method with the data from the Enriched Xenon Observatory (EXO), an underground experiment that already cooperated with the researchers.
"The data is already basically sitting there. It's just a matter of looking at it," Dror stated.
The scientists plan to explore various collaborations to tweak already running experiments.
Dror thinks finding out what dark matter is made of would be within future reach. "For me, that's a huge motivation to keep pushing—there is new physics out there," he added.
The study's co-authors included the UC Berkeley graduate student Robert McGehee, and Gilly Elor of the University of Washington.
Read the new study in Physical Review Letters.
- Scientists discover how to trap mysterious dark matter - Big Think ›
- Physicists invent a new way to search for dark matter using lasers ... ›
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.
- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
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