Scientists may have caught their first ever glimpse of “dark matter” – the mysterious, invisible substance that makes up three quarters of the matter of the universe.
Traces of two “dark matter particles” were picked up by highly sensitive detectors buried 2,000 ft below the ground at the bottom of an old iron mine, researchers report today.
The scientists say there is a three in four chance that the observations are genuine particles of dark matter, rather than just background noise.
Dark matter is one of the big mysteries of physics and its discovery would be one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the last 100 years.
In the 1930s astronomers first realised that the stars, gas and dust only made up a fraction of the matter of the universe. They concluded that galaxies would fall apart unless they were held in place by the gravitational pull of some vast, invisible substance.
For more than 80 years, scientists have debated what this dark matter could be and why we can’t see it.
One of the most likely candidates is a tiny object called a “weakly interactive massive particle” or Wimp which bombards the earth from space.
And to prove that even science can be funny:
Researchers have been looking for traces of Wimps for the last nine years at the bottom of a disused Soudan iron mine in Minnesota.
The perfect place for a wimp to hide.