shkrobius (shkrobius) wrote,
shkrobius
shkrobius

Dark matters: an update

I am helping a Fermilab group
http://www-coupp.fnal.gov/
http://kicp.uchicago.edu/research/highlights/highlight_2004-08-20.html
that is searching for dark matter. They have a nasty chemical problem
http://shkrobius.livejournal.com/272147.html
in their undergound lab. Supercritical CF3I fluid in their bubble chamber is decomposing to iodine under red light that is used to count bubbles. During the last run it became so contaminated by I2 (aka the "dark matter") that the light no longer shined through. After several months of improvising, we've fixed the problem. They almost gave up on me when they discovered colloidal particles in a test chamber during the last run two weeks ago. Luckily, it turned out to be from the corroded compressor piston; one of the designers decided to make it lighter without telling anyone. You never know...

Next week the real run begins, down in a deep mine up north.

If it works, it will be a Science paper, improving on WIMP parameter space and --- who knows? --- even finding something. If it does not, I'll have 32 angry high-energy physicists wanting a pound of my flesh. They are betting six months of data sampling and $1M on this chemistry. The fun part is that we do not know whether it will work on a large scale, and there is no time for additional tests. If it does not work on this scale, my only salvation is finding a signal in the first months of the run.

Dear Lord, please, send thy most strongly interacting Weakly Interacting Massive Particles to this mine, to save the neck of your humble servant. Right there, if it is not too much trouble:

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