News Stories

It's Everywhere

But nobody knows what it is - What's all around us, but nobody knows what it is? This sounds like a theological question, but it's actually a puzzle that scientists are trying to work out.

While the CERN experiments are taking place in Switzerland, a less well know experiment called Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) is taking place deep underground in Minnesota, where scientists have been trying to detect WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) for 7 years. They have finally detected two signals which could possibly indicate the presence of particles of dark matter.In BBC News, Doreen Walton quotes researcher Jody Cooley as saying, "Either we had a statistical fluctuation in our background or it could be that these two events are evidence of dark matter but there weren't enough of them to be sure. We can't rule them out as being a signal but we can't conclude that they are a signal."

In the past, thousands of volunteers have used their computers to search for ET. Now tens of thousands of home computers around the world are quietly working together to map the Milky Way, which you'd think we would know all about (since it's our own galaxy), but we don't.

As part of the project MilkyWay@Home, enthusiastic and inquisitive volunteers from Africa to Australia are donating the computing power of everything from decade-old desktops to sleek new netbooks to help computer scientists and astronomers map the shape of our Milky Way galaxy. Now, just this month, the collected computing power of these humble home computers has surpassed one petaflop, a computing speed that surpasses the world's second fastest supercomputer.

Each user participating in the project signs up their computer and offers up a percentage of the machine's operating power that will be dedicated to calculations related to the project. This means that data can be gathered about a very small section of the galaxy to map its shape, density, and movement. The team is especially interested in looking at how the different dwarf galaxies that make up the larger Milky Way galaxy have been moved and stretched following their merger with the larger galaxy millions of years ago. These calculations are providing new details on the overall shape and density of dark matter in the Milky Way galaxy, which is widely unknown.

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