Dark Matter Search Reveals Excess Signals

in StemSocial2 years ago

"Everything we know and love about the universe and all the laws of physics as they apply, apply to four percent of the universe. That's stunning."
Neil deGrasse Tyson

image.pngImage by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


image.pngImage by Lou Blazquez from Pixabay

Something is captivating about scientific discovery. The unspoken race to be first. Physicists pour their life, time, and energy to study the laws that govern reality. They endlessly toil through notes, theories, and experiments to understand anything that helps to explain the world around them. There appears to be a need not just to be the first discoverer of a thing, but also to be beyond reproach about it.

The realm of dark matter research is no different. Science must know what dark matter consists of and dedicate their lives accordingly. They will either find its components or determine the path they are on will not lead them to that finding. The goal appears altruistic: they sacrifice their resources to fail and then report upon it, so others don't fall into the trap.


image.pngImage by pixel1 from Pixabay

Welcome, fellow sentient beings, to our report on all things STEM-related. We present to you STEM Article #1 - the presentation of a dark matter experiment that revealed an unexpected signal.

Experimental results aren't the end-all-be-all of a hypothesis. They only test for a narrow-range of findings lest the length of the research becomes unmanageable. However, sometimes the results of experiments reveal an outcome that could be revolutionary.

What is Dark Matter?

image.pngImage by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Visible matter observed throughout the cosmos by human technology makes up only a small fraction of known universe. During observations of single galaxies, physicist Fritz Zwicky in 1933 held that "single galaxies were moving too fast for the cluster to remain bound together." The amount of visible matter, as presented in his research, amounted to a measure of mass that couldn't have enough gravity to keep that galaxy bound. Zwicky held that something else acted to maintain sufficient gravity for the galaxy's movement speed and coined the phrase "dark matter." Something was responsible for this observation, and science could not see it.

Decades later, during the 70s, Vera Rubin confirmed Zwicky's results, but the astronomical society largely shunned her results at that time. While today's astronomical society ascribes the discovery of dark matter to Vera, she has yet to receive a Nobel prize for her efforts. Despite this issue, however, scientists have spent decades trying to discover the particles that make up dark matter. Scientists now conducted experiments of more significant and higher sensitivities to try and capture the elusive dark matter particles. The XENON1T test is just one example of humanity's efforts to shed light on this mysterious topic.

The XENON1T Experiment

image.pngUC San Diego News Center

Why Xenon?

Xenon, as a noble gas, is not reactive with other elements. It has a nucleus size that scientists prefer for the interactions necessary for detection in the XENON1T experiment. The boiling point of Xenon is approximately -108 degrees Celcius. The XENON1T experiment maintains the enormous volume of liquid Xenon at about -95 degrees Celcius.

Xenon is not an easy gas to extract from the atmosphere. It makes up approximately 0.00001% of the Earth's atmosphere and can cost upwards of about $100,000 per bottle of Xenon gas utilized in experiments like XENON1T. Future dark matter experiments will use ever-increasing volumes of Xenon. Japan's XMASS direct dark matter experiment, for instance, plans on utilizing up to 20-tons of liquid Xenon.

How does the experiment work?

ucwzvxc2jcac4o9vlqd0Xenon Detection Principle

The XENON1T experiment is located almost 1-mile underground at the Gran Sasso National Lab in Italy. A total of 3.2 tons of ultra-pure liquid Xenon fills the chamber and houses the specialized detector.

The detector system is so sensitive that it can measure the decay rate of Xenon-124. Xenon-124 is an isotope of Xenon with a half-life older than the known age of this universe. Scientists estimate the age of the universe is approximately 14 billion years old. The half-life of Xenon-124 is 18 sextillion years.

While scientists mean to utilize the detector to identify dark matter particles, it is certainly able to measure other things as a result of particle interaction with the stable electron field inside.

The experiment works through particle interaction with the liquid xenon atoms. Particles interacting with the Xenon nucleus produces two signals-one is immediate and the other delayed. The detection system analyzes these two signals to determine the energy and position of the interaction, as well as, the type of particle that interacted with the liquid Xenon.

XENON1T Experimental Results

Once scientists had all systems set up, they let the detector run and record the interactions over two years between 2016 and 2018. No human observations were made during the detection process to eliminate the potential adverse impact of human behavior.

Scientists estimated the number of interactions could occur with the detector. They expected a total of 232 interactions, but they realized 285 interactions occurred.

Several theories explain the causes of the excess interactions, and you can best summarize them as tritium contamination, human error, or the interaction of a never-before-seen particle. It will take some years to validate the results and determine the most likely cause of the excess signals noted. However, the years might be worth it.

One potential discovery of this experiment is the presence of Axions. Axions particles theorized to exist that would resolve the charged-parity symmetry issue observed between weak and strong nuclear forces.


The XENON1T experiment is just one type of method utilized to determine what dark matter isn't. Understand that the search for dark matter required decades of careful speculation to theorize what would and wouldn't work, followed by experimentation to determine what could, or could not, be verified. Science had to create new forms of technology as they sought to understand the composition of the universe.

What can Society Do?

image.pngImage by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Respect one another. Learn from each other. Inhale and exhale during a frustrating event. Anger during discussions never ends well and usually leads to violent acts. Take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.

Projects and research in science propel humanity onward. It's essential to continue research like this to further our understanding of the unknown.

Dark Matter in Review

image.pngImage by wal_172619 from Pixabay

Research takes time. The validation of research results takes even longer. In a world that seeks to experiment upon, understand, and catalog the unknown, we find physicists that will spend years ensuring the results of their experiment either confirms or refutes their beliefs. There is a great deal of respect to be had for such a drive.

In Closing

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Thank you for joining me in this discussion. I'm not a physicist or researcher, but I find the prospects of our society discovering something unknown exciting.

Your thoughts?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

How do you feel about the information presented today? Do you have any stories to share? Please share it with us in the comments below or recommend it for my next article!

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I'm quite sure @lemouth will find this interesting. He is the father of dark matter on the hive blockchain :).

What? I didn’t know that fact.

Dark matter is crazy. A separate field of science created by an observed inconsistency in the 1930s. We are just arriving at a time where technology can test theories put forth almost a century ago.

I don’t know why this topic isn’t number one everywhere lol.

It's not really a topic everyone understands. The first time of hearing about dark matter was on this blockchain and its because I am a stem enthusiast. It means there are still a large number of users that don't even know anything about black matters.

Fyi: lemouth is a professor of particle physics and he's been working on dark matter for years. You check his blog to read about some of his research.

Thank you for the reference! I’ll check it out. I agree not everyone understands it. My wife gives me a glossy eyes stare when I talk to her about radiation exposure management at work. My sons though, one is two and the other is three, are getting early introductions into STEM. It can be fun if you let them have fun with it.

I am not the father of dark matter, this is a bit exaggerated (although those nice words were very kind and reading them made me happy).

As said by gentleshaid, I work in the field of high-energy physics research, and a large fraction of my research output is connected with dark matter. I usually blog about my work, or the work of colleagues. At least I used to back in the days. Those days, it is however hard for me to produce more than one post every 7-10 days. Time is what it is: short ^^

He did say you were the father of dark matter on the Hive Blockchain. There may be some truth to that statement.

Funny and true story. When @gentleshaid mentioned you were a particle physicist a picture similar to what's below immediately appeared in my mind.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Clearly, something of this nature isn't true, but it goes to show how little one may know of someone else's occupation. Interestingly enough, someone at my job gave me a similar remark when they asked me about how I came up with trends and predictions for maintenance activities.

Hahaha :)

Don't worry, I am just a normal human being, like probably most of us :)

Well, of course as I was planning to write about it anyways (I advertised it on discord last week, complaining about incorrect statements popping up from everywhere).

This being said, I am by far too young to be the father of dark matter. But thanks for saying that. Those are very nice words :)

In the meantime, I have commented this post out ^^

As always very facinating for a non science babe, xenon is in the lamps of cars isnt it?

It certainly is in those lamps. It’s pretty difficult to produce as it is such a small component of the atmosphere. Lighting and lamps is a common use since, as a noble gas, it is very stable and it exists as a gas in room temperature.

But not under a liquid state, which is what is used in those dark matter experiments.

Always something new to learn both in the universe and ourselves think we are tiny little moving universes, with one problem we were given a tongue.

Well presented and interesting content, thank you.


Thank you very much for you support!

That’s a very nice piece of text. And it contains correct statements, in contrast to many readings I found on the web with respect to this news. I am planning to write about this news later this week, as I didn’t find the time yet, busy with the duties associated with my job). I aim at giving more details on which signal has been exactly observed and what is meant by "getting a hint of a new phenomenon".

Concerning your text, I have a few remarks. Feel free to further comment them!

They will either find its components or determine the path they are on will not lead them to that finding

Dark matter may be elementary or composite. So that there is no clear definition of what a “dark matter component” could be.

Moreover, dark matter is not only explaining the motion of the stars in the galaxies, and the motion of the galaxies among themselves, but also a plethora of other cosmological observations. Therefore, the motivation behind it is very strong. This being said, modified gravity theories (the best alternative to dark matter) are still not excluded.

While scientists mean to utilize the detector to identify dark matter particles, it is certainly able to measure other things as a result of particle interaction with the stable electron field inside.

Initially, the Xenon1T experiment was targeting nuclear recoils (as this is what is mainly expected as a WIMP signal), and not electron recoils. The extension to electron recoils is more recent (and is connected with an improvement in the sensitivity of the experiment).

No human observations were made during the detection process to eliminate the potential adverse impact of human behavior.

I don’t understand the above sentence. Measurements were made all along the data taking process.

Thank you very much @lemouth. Concerning the period of time for data collection it appears I incorrectly assume they let the detector and system monitor interactions blindly. I assumed they didn’t check the results until two years later. Perhaps I misled myself.

Concerning the period of time for data collection it appears I incorrectly assume they let the detector and system monitor interactions blindly.

Aaah this is what you meant. Data acquisition was indeed controlled during the course of the experiment. See for instance here.

Nice! Thanks and apologies for the confusing statement. I appreciate the clarifications.

There is no need to apology. I was very happy to help :)

The funny thing is...
The experiments exsist only to
describe phenomenon - in relation
to pre-existing science...
When they give this "think model"
up, "That's when the Real Discoveries" will be made...

I wanted to ask for your input immediately, but alas, the needs of my children overrode my intent. The "think model" you mention, can you explain further? I see your point on describing phenomena about pre-existing science. Can you elaborate on the "think model" you wrote about? I feel like there's a profound concept there, but I can't see it. Thank you very much for your response and support.

Hi There!
Basically the "Short Form" is this...
"ALL" research is done to either prove or disprove exsisting "Theory's"...
There is no advancement of science there, actually that form of research guarantees science to stay on the same path, which for "pre-exsisting" Scientists this is 'paycheck wise" very beneficial...
Now in the world if "Quantum Physics" there has been some strides made, and some of them quickly squashed.
I feel research, especially in the field of Quantum Physics, has to focus much more in the relation of things to themselves, not in their relation to "Man".
Obviously if You look at the current data, it would suggest that most particles have an awareness of their own, that interacts with an un-percieved quality of the universe.
That was all I have to say at this point, the rest is actually where "Religion" steps in.
Whether it's believed it not, which is where "Science" begins to have problems...
"Only humans need to understand "hammers and nails"...
Have A Good Evening!
And thanks for the opportunity!


Thank you for responding. I certainly appreciate the "hammer and nails" concept. I was trained in mechanics in the submarine fleet, but also as a chemistry/RP technician. "Hammer and nails" appears to be quite the theme in society. I can certainly speak to it considering the requirements of society and my workplace during COVID-19. My version of "hammer and nails" during my career has been "through money at it" when it comes down from leadership.

Hammers and nails have their uses in production work though, but I can imagine not so much on the theoretical side of things. Your mention of religion piqued my interest as I'm writing an article about things like the double-slit experiment and the attempts to convert light into matter.

Thank you again for your response, as well as, your engaging conversation.

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