Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dark Matter There, Dark Matter Not There

I mentioned about the latest "finding" of possible WIMP dark matter by CRESST last week. Of course, this should be met with a bit of skepticism because of the nature of the experiment, and because it is in conflict with other measurements. Nature News has a coverage of the current conflict in these observations.

Leo Stodoksky, who works on CRESST II, calls the findings, which do not meet the criteria for proof in particle physics "intriguing but not definitive" because the scientists can not be sure they have properly identified and accounted for every background event that would mimic a WIMP-like signal. Other experiments using different detectors, including DAMA/LIBRA, also at Gran Sasso, and CoGeNT, located in the Soudan Underground Laboratory in Minnesota, have detected WIMP-like signals in a similar mass range. But all these results are at odds with two other experiments, XENON100 in the Italian laboratory and CDMS II in Soudan, which have found no statistically significant evidence of WIMPs in a similar mass range.
Now, some people, especially those not in science, may find this to be disconcerting. I don't. In fact, having conflict such as this is vital in science. It is part of our check and balance, and the fact that in the research front area, things don't always appear clean and neat in the beginning is good! It means that you need a lot more work to produce convincing evidence, and that we are not lemmings that just simply accept things that are flimsy.

To be accept as valid in science isn't easy, and it is a rigorous process. This is part of such a process.


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