/ Science / US Department of Energy funds new 5-year search for ‘dark light’

US Department of Energy funds new 5-year search for ‘dark light’

Andrea on July 28, 2014 - 9:42 am in Science
Dark matter
By this point, we’ve all heard of dark matter and dark energy: the elusive materials that, between them, make up the vast majority of our universe. It’s the subject of research all over the physics world, with even traditional physics experiments providing insight into the “dark world” via sheer exclusion of possibilities.Dark matter and energy gotten some implied attention via recent developments at the Large Hadron Collider, and a host of upcoming space telescopes will help us look into the deep, deep past for some insight into the creation of this light-dark dichotomy at (presumably) the instant of the Big Bang. Still, with the dark world being by its nature hard to imagine having too many practical impacts, non-NASA government support has been a bit thin. Now, though, the US Department of Energy is funding one Stanford professor’s dark-world research effort to the tune of $750,000.

Dr. Peter W. Graham wants to do a range of experiments aimed at narrowing the possibility space for the so-called “dark photon.” If discovered, this would be a new kind of light field and provide a possible bridge between our observable universe and the much larger dark one. Particles like axions, which have been theorized for some time now, will also be under investigation. So-called “dark light” could be observable in several unique ways, and researchers hope it will provide a foothold they can exploit to see further into the dark world.

dark photon 2

Remember that when it comes to dark matter, scientists don’t even know in which dimensions they should be looking, along which lines of force. Dark matter is thought to interact with the regular kind via gravity only, which right away makes detailed study much more difficult; all of our traditional experimental techniques have to do with taking in light or sound, or bouncing either off of something and getting a signal back.

As such, these experiments will use a wide variety of techniques to do as much exclusion as possible — when you have absolutely no idea what you’re looking for, the correct approach is to invalidate as many answers as you can, then do focused research on the much narrower spectrum of possibilities that remains. Using techniques from nuclear magnetic resonance to brand-new concepts like energy transfer between microwave cavities, they hope to reveal the true nature of the majority of the universe.

Source: Science – Geek.com

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