Dark matter or the darkest matter?

No one knew what dark matter was — until now. And it appears to be less dark than predicted. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, University of Basque Country/JHU

No one knew what dark matter was — until now. And it appears to be less dark than predicted. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, University of Basque Country/JHU

Scientists working on dark matter experiments are trained to expect the unexpected.

No one knows what dark matter is or how to detect it. We know that dark matter makes up a quarter of the universe, but beyond that, it remains a mystery. So each experiment is different, and each one uses its own method to uncover the secrets of this elusive substance.

Fermilab’s latest experiment, DarkHeart-13, uses what some might consider an unconventional method of detecting dark matter. But it is one that has produced a most unexpected and interesting result, as you can read in our latest paper, published this week. While we do expect that the result is repeatable, proper safety measures should be observed.

Like many dark matter experiments, DarkHeart-13 uses a container of liquid to detect the phantom particles. In this case, however, the container is more of a large metal cauldron, and the liquid a bubbling green froth made of classified ingredients. Wearing special superconducting robes, our scientists then read aloud special equations devised by theorists while standing in a circle around the detector.

While this method has been controversial among the scientific community, the latest result proves its efficacy. On Oct. 12, after a particularly vigorous oration by the collaboration members, the DarkHeart detector spotted something brand new — a particle of matter that had not been observed before. This particle appeared to take the form of a 7-meter-tall red monster with horns calling itself Draghignazzo the Infernal, an utterance the DarkHeart team captured on audio and video.

At first, this new discovery seemed like it might be dangerous. As recordings show, Draghignazzo stomped around the experimental hall for a while in an attempt to scare the research team. But after some time, we realized he was more bark than bite. In fact, Draghignazzo turned out to be a real WIMP. After a cup of tea and some Scrabble, it was determined that despite his outward appearance, he’s quite nice. We’re going bowling next week.

The DarkHeart-13 collaboration considers this a successful detection of dark matter. As final evidence, we note that the computer screens in the detector hall have since not stopped playing old episodes of “Big Bang Theory.” We leave the scientific explanation of this phenomenon to future experiments.

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