Detecting The Dark Stuff

Dark matter and dark energy are two of the biggest and most confusing puzzles for scientists around the world. The scientific community has struggled to understand the, well, dark matter, ever since we have theorized its existence. And now, perhaps, scientists have come up with a way to finally see it.

It turns out that the key to solving one of the BIGGEST mysteries of the cosmos is to look at some of the smallest answers. Physicists like Katherine Freese at the University of Michigan are looking to DNA to help guide to a much more definitive way of findind dark matter. The reason why this attempt, unlike the various tests that claim to have detected dark matter already, will work? It’s all in the genes…

The idea for this detection device revolves around a single gold atom and strands of DNA. It’s been theorized that a massive circle of WIMPs, or Weak Interacting Massive Particles, encircles our galaxy, which are known to be part of the makeup of dark matter. Our system revolves around the center of said galaxy, so in theory, it’s said that a solar wind of WIMPs pass through us at some point in time. If the dark matter detector, a stack of thin gold sheets with strands of DNA hanging from it, were to come in contact with the WIMPs, the nuclei of the gold particles would “whiz off, cutting through the DNA at specific locations in the strands”(Freese).

The goal here is to gather enough data to be able to map out the path of the flying nuclei and subsequent WIMP. After sufficient intervals of data have been processed, physicists say this would be compelling evidence to suggest that dark matter indeed exists. Still, the big question is whether or not this will even work. How many WIMP’s can one expect in a given period of time? Will DNA even shatter when contacted? There are plenty of unanswered questions, but scientists are still giving this all they have. Regardless of the outcome, some much needed answers could be rendered.

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