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China operates the world's largest and deepest dark matter laboratory

China operates the world's largest and deepest dark matter laboratory

The world's deepest and largest underground laboratory comes into operation in China. /(Xinhua/Xu Bingjie)

Photo: Xinhua/Xu Bingjie

At a depth of 2,400 metres, there is a large physics laboratory where a group of Chinese scientists are trying to learn more about dark matter, a type of matter that is as abundant as it is mysterious. It is thought to make up about 27% of the universe, compared to 5% of baryonic matter (the “normal” matter that makes up stars, planets and gas) and 68% of dark energy, a form of energy thought to be responsible for the expansion of the universe. Universe. However, its nature remains mysterious.

Hence the importance of laboratories such as the one that opened a few months ago in Sichuan, a southwestern Chinese province. According to that country, the depth of the laboratory helps block most of the cosmic rays that interfere with the observation process. Dark matter is a form of matter that does not emit, absorb or reflect electromagnetic light, which means it cannot be detected directly by traditional observational methods. Although it has not appeared, indirect evidence of its existence has accumulated through astronomical observations and studies of the large-scale structure of the universe.

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Construction of the Underground Ultra-Low Background Radiation Facility for Advanced Physics Experiments (DURF), as the laboratory is known, began in December 2020 and was led by Tsinghua University and Yalong River Hydropower Development Co., Ltd. “We will become a global center for deep underground scientific research that will integrate multiple disciplines, including particle physics, nuclear astrophysics and life sciences, in order to facilitate the development of research in relevant cutting-edge fields,” Professor Yu Qian of Tsinghua University was quoted as saying. As reported by the New China News Agency (Xinhua).

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Various particles have been proposed as dark matter candidates, but the type of particle has not yet been conclusively determined. Experiments in particle physics and astronomy continue in search of direct evidence that can reveal the true nature of dark matter. DURF Lab seeks to help provide some answers.