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New lab designed to study dark matter is now under construction

Construction crews have now started building the deepest underground science laboratory in the world, which scientists will use to study dark matter.

"The fact that we're going to be in the Davis Cavern just tickles us pink," Case Western Reserve University researcher Tom Shutt told the Associated Press.  The cavern used to be a gold mine that has been abandoned for some time now.  The part of the mine called Davis Cavern is named after Ray Davis Jr., a scientists who used the mine to study solar neutrinos in the 1960s.

The research lab, located at a depth equivalent to six Empire State buildings, will be used to help scientists study dark matter.  Being almost 5,000 feet under the Earth's surface is an ideal location as cosmic rays likely won't interfere with research, but it will be some time before researchers are able to begin working there.

Engineers and construction crews must now stabilize and repair some of the tunnels, and add new safety infrastructure to prevent tunnel collapse.  Research already is being conducted at 4,850 feet, with Congress mulling two labs that would go even deeper than the one now being built.  

Case Western Reserve University, Brown University, and a couple of other universities and research groups are helping develop the new underground science laboratory.  Around a dozen total collaborators plan to research dark matter at the facility.

The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) detector equipment -- a project aimed at studying the Big Bang explosion -- is expected to be the first dark matter experiment.

Dark matter is a popular topic of research because many astronomers believe galaxies may have never formed without dark matter.  Furthermore, the theory behind dark matter and what it is remains a mystery -- learning more about dark matter may help physicists finally figure out if the universe is expanding or contracting.

The lab should be fully operational by 2016.

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Cosmic Rays
By Shig on 6/26/2009 2:39:38 PM , Rating: 2
Any cosmologists out there that can explain why cosmic rays interfere with dark matter research?

RE: Cosmic Rays
By JakLee on 6/26/2009 2:52:20 PM , Rating: 5
Any cosmologists out there that can explain why cosmic rays interfere with dark matter research?

because in high enough doses they turn you into a rock man, a stretchy man, an invisible girl, or her flaming brother?

RE: Cosmic Rays
By smackababy on 6/26/2009 3:00:21 PM , Rating: 4
As long as they don't spawn terrible teams of superheroes who can't beat mundain foes but somehow can defeat the undefeatables we'll be okay... oh wait.

RE: Cosmic Rays
By Spuke on 6/26/2009 3:56:49 PM , Rating: 5
or her flaming brother?
You don't need cosmic rays for that to happen.

RE: Cosmic Rays
By DEVGRU on 6/26/2009 6:21:05 PM , Rating: 3

Sooooo worth a 6! :)

RE: Cosmic Rays
By Goty on 6/26/2009 3:01:59 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not a cosmologist, but astrophysicist should come close enough. :P

The reason you need to block cosmic rays is that any interactions with dark matter are going to be extremely weak, so you need extremely sensitive detectors. The showers of particles produced by collisions of cosmic rays with the upper atmosphere would wreak havoc with the detector, and those particles not stopped by the atmosphere are still so strongly interacting that they'd simply overwhelm the sensor (think of it as overexposing film, but on a small scale). Has a good example of what a cosmic ray strike does to a relatively low sensitivity detector like a CCD in a telescope.

RE: Cosmic Rays
By kb9fcc on 6/26/2009 3:54:02 PM , Rating: 2
It's been quite a while since I studied any of this, but I thought I remembered that cosmic rays had enough energy to pass right through the Earth. So putting a sensor down at 5000 ft isn't going to protect it from cosmic rays directly, as it could as easily be hit from a ray coming in from the other side. However, the shower or cascade of particles generated by cosmic ray hit with an upper atmospheric particle(s) would be blocked by that depth. So in that regard, it would greatly reduce the background noise level.

Or maybe it was neutrinos?

RE: Cosmic Rays
By Goty on 6/26/2009 4:00:36 PM , Rating: 5
You're probably think of neutrinos, yes. In general, it's only heavier (usually charged) particles that are classified as cosmic rays.

Neutrinos are much less of a problem because they are also weakly interacting particles in addition to being relatively low energy. Solar neutrinos usually fall somewhere under the keV range in energy whereas the most common cosmic rays have energies in the GeV range.

RE: Cosmic Rays
By Chernobyl68 on 6/26/2009 5:17:16 PM , Rating: 2
nice link...interesting reading.

RE: Cosmic Rays
By maxcue on 6/27/2009 4:54:50 PM , Rating: 1
Goty, OMG don't you realize you're on the friggin net? Don't you know how to net-spell? Correct spelling is SO 20th century. "Wreak" havoc is obviously meant to be reek, like any 12-yr. old or netizen would know (I mean, no). And don't forget to mess up all your future punctuation, especially those inconvenient apostrophes in the WRITE places. PS: Thank you for a plausible answer just the same.

RE: Cosmic Rays
By Fritzr on 6/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: Cosmic Rays
By Goty on 6/28/2009 7:58:22 PM , Rating: 2
I think the sarcasm is lost on you.


RE: Cosmic Rays
By Veerappan on 6/30/2009 3:07:45 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Sarcasm it not their strong point.

Thanks for the explanation. I'm surrounded by high-energy astrophysicists at work, but I know far less than they...

RE: Cosmic Rays
By Goty on 6/29/2009 9:19:52 AM , Rating: 3
Well I though it was funny, anyway....

RE: Cosmic Rays
By Donovan on 6/26/2009 3:20:43 PM , Rating: 2
Experiments like this one and the various underground neutrino observatories are looking for particles which barely interact with matter. The number of these particles that will interact with the detector is very low and would be lost against the constant background from cosmic rays. When Supernova 1987a occured, for example, the IMB detector observed 8 neutrinos and Kamiokande observed 11.

To put it simply, they want to build the detector in a place where normal stuff can't reach so they will only see the exotic stuff.

RE: Cosmic Rays
By knutjb on 6/26/2009 5:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
They want the deepest hole to get the lowest noise floor for their sensors.

For those who don't know Lead South Dakota is located next to Deadwood, down the road from Sturgis and not far from Rapid City and Mount Rushmore.

RE: Cosmic Rays
By scrapsma54 on 6/27/2009 2:05:33 PM , Rating: 2
Umbrella Corp!

Good morning and welcome to...
By FaaR on 6/26/2009 3:34:01 PM , Rating: 5
...the Black Mesa Transit System. This automated train is provided for the security and convenience of the Black Mesa Research Facility personnel. The time is eight-forty seven A.M. Current topside temperature is ninety three degrees with an estimated high of one hundred and five. The Black Mesa compound is maintained at a pleasant sixty-eight degrees at all times. This train is inbound from Level Three dormitories to Sector C Test Labs and Control Facilities.

By inperfectdarkness on 6/26/2009 3:52:38 PM , Rating: 2
wow. if i hadn't already posted (simultaneously with someone else's post on the same theme) I'd + this one.


RE: Good morning and welcome to...
By MrBowmore on 6/26/2009 9:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
I was going to write that but decided to go through the posts before. Damn you!

#2. Isn't it cheaper to coat a large chamber in pure lead?
To start a facility, as black mesa, down under, or cote it in lead? It blocks gamma rays pretty well anyway! =)

PS. That includes Alpha n Beta btw.

RE: Good morning and welcome to...
By Chemical Chris on 6/27/2009 11:22:40 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't it cheaper to coat a large chamber in pure lead?

To get the same level of protection from led, you would need less depth (ie, 500ft of lead vs 5000ft rock (mostly silicon, oxygen, carbon atoms), but that would be a lot of lead, its much cheaper to just use an old mine. You want to be sure than any high energy particles coming down from space will collide with enough nuclei/interact with enough particles to absorb their energy, so *none* get down to the lab itself. It would seem a mile is sufficient.
There was a not dissimilar experiment done in a nickel mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada recently, they had a giant ball of water suspended in a cavern. Its part of SNOlab, and its ~6800ft underground.
And following some of the links, they plan to spend up to a half billion on this and future research at that site...pretty awesome experiments, actually.
Still, as a BioChem guy, I'm just a little jealous of wicked cool experiments the Physics guys get to do...


By MrPoletski on 6/30/2009 4:24:29 AM , Rating: 2
The real reason they are going deeper underground?

There's too much panic in this town.

By PhoenixKnight on 6/29/2009 9:55:17 AM , Rating: 3
Prepare for unforeseen consequences.

Dont be fooled !
By Gatos7 on 6/26/2009 4:25:53 PM , Rating: 1
This is obviously an underground banker for the events that are going to transpire during 2012 !!!

Google it ! Know the truth ! :P

RE: Dont be fooled !
By JakLee on 6/26/2009 6:23:14 PM , Rating: 5
Damn those underground Bankers!

RE: Dont be fooled !
By SiliconAddict on 6/27/2009 3:32:33 AM , Rating: 3
I've heard they are collaborating with the underground bakers as well.

RE: Dont be fooled !
By Flail on 6/26/2009 7:28:59 PM , Rating: 2
The lab should be fully operational by 2016.


RE: Dont be fooled !
By DigitalFreak on 6/27/2009 9:48:34 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like the Umbrella Corporation labs to me.

RE: Dont be fooled !
By Tamale on 6/29/2009 9:41:51 AM , Rating: 2
that's what I was thinking. don't scientists know nothing good ever comes out of a super-fancy underground lab?

please tell me they've at least made sure there's several good escape routes!!

The Earth is deep o_O
By Flail on 6/26/2009 11:43:42 PM , Rating: 3
Whoa... The earth is deep. Seeing that it's 6 empire state buildings below the surface, approx 7,500 feet, made me want to know how deep the earth was, so I Wiki'd.

Wiki'd the Earth's crust and get that it's 35 km deep. Then I looked up a km to feet calculator and I get approx. 115,000 feet(114,829 to be exact). which is about 107,500 feets left till the end of the crust. And the very center of the earth is 6378 km, or 20,925,196 feets deep.

So the Earth's crust is somewhere around .0054 percent of the total depth of the Earth? Whoa. The average height of a human is around 5 to 6 feet, so it would take approx. 3,804,581(about the entire population of Los Angeles) lined up humans that are 5.5 feet to reach the center of the Earth, but only 20,878, about the population of a small town, to reach the end of the crust.

So if the entire current human population of about 6.8 billion was lined up, there would be enough people to reach the center of the earth approx. 17,873 times.


RE: The Earth is deep o_O
By Flail on 6/26/2009 11:53:12 PM , Rating: 2
Err- to clarify, when I said "it's" in the second sentence I meant the underground lab.

And I know my post kinda doesn't belong, that's because I meant to reply to the guy who said something about the Article getting it wrong on how deep the lab was gonna be.

RE: The Earth is deep o_O
By TennesseeTony on 6/27/2009 2:52:50 AM , Rating: 3
That's a whole hell of a lot of feets.

RE: The Earth is deep o_O
By Chocobollz on 6/29/2009 12:55:46 AM , Rating: 2
And someone's gonna get bald :-)

No mention of the state?
By hunkmuffin on 6/26/2009 5:24:15 PM , Rating: 5
How come there is no mention of the state this lab will go in? What state is it you ask? Why it's my home state of South Dakota. Thanks for asking.

RE: No mention of the state?
By phaxmohdem on 6/26/2009 6:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
That mine is located in South Dakota IIRC

RE: No mention of the state?
By phaxmohdem on 6/26/2009 6:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
My mind is located on a distant moon IIRC... sorry! I should just not post.

By zinfamous on 6/26/2009 10:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
what happens when their dark matter collides with all those hard-ons?

RE: So.....
By phaxmohdem on 6/26/2009 11:40:25 PM , Rating: 2
white matter?

RE: So.....
By thekdub on 6/27/2009 3:25:34 AM , Rating: 2
Section 8 Particles.

RE: So.....
By SpaceJumper on 6/28/2009 9:37:52 PM , Rating: 2
The dark matter usually doesn't interact with regular matter, but they do at a very high speed, after the collision, it then creates something called the gray matter. The gray matter reacts either to the white or the dark matters and existed only for a millionths of a second. If the scientists can capture the transition of the gray matter, they will find the bridge to the dark matter.

six empire state buildings deep?
By BB33 on 6/26/2009 3:25:19 PM , Rating: 4
The Empire state building is 1,250ft to the roof multiply that by 6 and you get 7,500 way more than 5,000ft. And that is not counting the antenna spire.

By Zaphod Beeblebrox on 6/26/2009 4:00:37 PM , Rating: 3
Darn math. Always ruining perfectly good news articles.

Expanding or Contracting?
By ianweck on 6/27/2009 10:45:37 AM , Rating: 2
may help physicists finally figure out if the universe is expanding or contracting.

Hasn't this question been answered already? I thought Hubble proved this decades ago.

RE: Expanding or Contracting?
By Spinne on 6/27/2009 10:54:35 AM , Rating: 2
Science journalism is lousy.
It's probably because someone under a severe misapprehension decided to add that in thinking it'll make things more important sounding. Everyone else just used cut & paste.

RE: Expanding or Contracting?
By Fritzr on 6/28/2009 7:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
More data from alternate sources to validate/invalidate competing theories. One of the alternative ideas is that expansion is not uniform. The example used in one article was inflating a baloon. portions of the Universe could be expanding faster than the rest. Assuming that to be true then you could even have localized collapse along with localized expansions. The more sources of info that are available the easier it will be to figure out what is really going on.

Anywho the purpose stated in this article is not investigating expansion, but to determine if dark matter exist & if it does what it's properties are and how does it affect "normal" matter.

If the current theories of what dark matter is are correct then many theories will need to be re-examined to see what changes are required to accomodate dark matter.

This will be similar to the changes to geograhical theories when plate tectonics was accepted as fact.

Make up your mind mate
By jimpaka on 6/26/2009 3:05:12 PM , Rating: 3
...but it will be some time before researchers are able to begin working there.

...Research already is being conducted at 4,850 feet

RE: Make up your mind mate
By Golgatha on 6/26/2009 3:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
with Congress mulling two labs that would go even deeper than the one now being built.

Umbrella Corp
By totallycool on 6/26/2009 4:27:44 PM , Rating: 3
I hope the funding is not coming from Umbrella corp!!

RE: Umbrella Corp
By imaheadcase on 6/26/2009 6:56:21 PM , Rating: 2
I hope no funding comes at all.

Studying dark matter, or are they?
By Emryse on 6/27/2009 4:39:34 AM , Rating: 2
Resident Evil, anyone?

Half Life, anyone?


By Titanius on 6/29/2009 8:02:12 AM , Rating: 2
The resonance cascade will cause unforeseen consequences.

Not the deepest
By Great White on 6/26/2009 8:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
They are going to have to go farther if they want to be the deepest. SNOLAB in Ontario is already operating at 6800 ft. And since it's below Arctic Shield, norite, it has a water equivalent depth of just about 20000ft.
They are expanding it so they can begin study of Dark Matter.

Will be the deepest lab
By hunkmuffin on 6/27/2009 2:07:58 AM , Rating: 2
The lab will start off at 4,850 feet deep. But it has the ability to go down to 8,000 feet at the homestake site.

Yes, General Turgidson?
By dgelman on 6/27/2009 9:48:32 AM , Rating: 2
We must not allow a mine shaft gap!

(Nuclear reactors could provide power almost indefinitely.
Greenhouses could maintain plant life. Animals could be bred and slaughtered. A quick survey would have to be made of all the suitable minesites in the country, but I shouldn't be surprised if several hundred thousand of our people could be accomodated. Every nation would undoubtedly follow suit...)

Black Mesa??
By roostitup on 6/28/2009 1:10:07 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds a awful lot like Black Mesa Research Facility! It begins, look out Earth!!

By Zingam on 6/28/2009 4:38:10 AM , Rating: 2
"learning more about dark matter may help physicists finally figure out if the universe is expanding or contracting."

Why don't they just ask the alien super intelligence for the answer? Or its all about spending tax payers money?

By METALMORPHASIS on 6/28/2009 6:06:29 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like it will be a great place to look for worms for my frog!

Gizmonic Institute
By badinoff on 6/29/2009 9:22:09 AM , Rating: 2
Black Mesa? Umbrella Corporation? Bullfeathers!

This thing has Deep 13 written all over it. We must stop the madness before they waste more tax dollars sending janitors and job temps into space and subjecting them cheesy movies every week!

By rburnham on 6/29/2009 10:45:24 AM , Rating: 2
I smell a mole.

I know the truth!
By omgwtf8888 on 6/29/2009 11:22:33 AM , Rating: 2
The truth is, they found more gold in that, there gold mine and they want all that gold... Gold... GOLD!!! to thereselfs...

I say let the gold rush begin!

Scientific study or.....
By bighairycamel on 6/26/2009 3:31:19 PM , Rating: 1
....evil headquarters to plot world domination?

"Welcome to my underground lair"

Mr. Powers
By inperfectdarkness on 6/26/2009 3:46:43 PM , Rating: 1
Welcome to my Underground Lair...

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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