Dark matter rumor

UPDATE:  Never mind.  It looks like the whole thing’s not true.  See the “important update.”  Sorry!  (I agree with Brent in the comments to this post that the tone of the email from the Nature editor is quite odd, by the way.)

A rumor is apparently going around that the CDMS experiment may be about to announce that they’ve directly detected dark matter particles.

CDMS is one of several experiments that try to observe dark matter particles directly interacting with their apparatus as they pass through.  These experiments are always placed deep underground to shield them from “ordinary” cosmic rays; this one is in a mine in Minnesota.

Evidence for the rumor: The collaboration had a paper accepted in Nature.  Nature usually only publishes high-profile results.  If CDMS had a non-detection to report (even if it set a new and interesting upper limit), Nature would be less likely to accept it. Nature articles are embargoed until publication, meaning that the collaboration can’t release the results or talk about them until December 18.  Members of the collaboration have canceled seminars before that date and scheduled talks at a number of universities to take place on that date.

So it definitely sounds like they have something exciting to say.  If they really have directly detected dark matter particles in the lab, needless to say this would be a Really Big Deal.

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Ted Bunn

I am chair of the physics department at the University of Richmond. In addition to teaching a variety of undergraduate physics courses, I work on a variety of research projects in cosmology, the study of the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe. University of Richmond undergraduates are involved in all aspects of this research. If you want to know more about my research, ask me!

17 thoughts on “Dark matter rumor”

  1. The source you originally gave has updated their blog post with a reported email from Leslie Sage, Nature’s Physical Sciences editor, which debunks the reported Nature article. It seemed a little strong and personal to be an actual email from someone writing a professional email, but it did point out that December 18th is a Friday, and Nature is published on a Thursday (with the articles normally released by Wednesday’s evening news). So this rumor could be true, but I doubt the Nature publication (which makes me doubt the rumor).

    Also, Dr. Sage seemed pretty pissed about the mention of an “embargo”, which she says is unfounded–that authors can, for instance, post on Arxiv before the publication date. If that turns out to be false, I would be much less inclined to believe in the identity of the emailer.

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