The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada on October 31, 2013 · 15
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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada · 15

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Issue Date:
Thursday, October 31, 2013
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THE CAZETTE THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2013 f ' s' irjHiiiii. iiuiiiiDi, "'.'.'.-...v ?w-sf mif . A i.. "-STr r: fir r. Ill w ; People gather during the official Norwegian town sees the light THE PLAN TO USE MARK LFWIS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STAVANCER, NORWAY Residents of the small Norwegian town of Rjukan have finally seen the light. Tucked in between steep mountains, the town is normally shrouded in shadow for almost six months a year, with residents having to catch a cable car to the top of a nearby precipice to get a fix of midday vitamin D. But on Wednesday faint rays from the winter sun for the first time reached the town's market square, thanks to three 17-square-metre mirrors placed on a mountain. Cheering families, some on sun loungers, drinking cocktails and waving Norwegian flags, donned shades as the sun crept from behind a cloud to hit the mirrors and reflect down onto the faces of delighted children below. TV footage of the event showed the centre of the crowded square light up a touch, but not as if hit by direct sunlight. Still, residents said the effect was noticeable. "Before when it was a fine day, you would see that the sky was blue and you knew that the sun was shining. Dark matter eludes physics experimenters Unseen material is crucial to current model of universe SETH BORENSTEIN and CHET BROKAW THE ASSOCIATED PRESS lead, s.d. - Nearly a mile underground in an abandoned gold mine, one of the most important quests in physics has come up empty-handed in the search for the elusive substance known as dark matter, scientists announced Wednesday. The most advanced Earth-based search for the mysterious material that has mass but cannot be seen turned up "absolutely no signal" of dark matter, said Richard Gaitskell of Brown University, a scientist working on the Large Underground Xenon experi i mill IT" i i - r bibb srss inl w I mmm - If L- 1X4 All opening of giant sun-reflecting AN ARRAY OF LARGE Three giant mirrors erected on towards thp rentrp of the town. But you couldn't quite see it. It was very frustrating," said Karin Roe, from the local tourist office. "This feels warm. When there is no time to get to the top of the mountains on weekdays, it will be lovely to come out for an hour and feel this warmth on my face." Like much of Scandinavia, ment. A detector attached to the International Space Station has so far also failed to find any dark matter. Physicists published then-initial findings Wednesday after the experiment's first few months of operation at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, which was built in the former Home-stake gold mine in South Dakota's Black Hills. With 1,400 metres of earth helping screen out background radiation, scientists tried to trap dark matter, which they hoped would be revealed in the form of weakly interacting massive particles, nicknamed WIMPS. The search, using the most sensitive equipment in the world, tried looking for the light fingerprint of a WIMP bouncing off an atomic nucleus of xenon cooled to minus 101 C. But nothing was found, said co-investigator Daniel ' ; 5" Lb"' " ' ' - ' i - mirrors in the town of Rjukan, In-iMi.lntiii i 13? ill MIRRORS to bring winter sun to mountain-shaded Rjukan was cooked up 100 years ago TORE MEEKAFPCETTY IMAGES inside above Rjukan, Norway, reflect sunshine the mounta the town of Rjukan often is freezing throughout the winter, but on Wednesday it was 7 C there. The Italian town of Vigan-ella has a similar, but smaller, sun mirror. The plan to illuminate Rjukan was cooked up 100 years ago by the Norwegian industrialist Sam Eyde, who built McKinsey, a physicist at Yale University. The team plans to keep looking for another year, but McKinsey and Gaitskell were not optimistic about finding dark matter with the current setup. They are already planning to build a more sensitive experiment on the site, using a bigger tank of xenon. "The short story is that we didn't see dark matter interacting," McKinsey said. The lab, in a bright, clean space at the end of an old mining tunnel filled with pipes and electric cables, is reached by a 10-minute ride in an elevator that once carried miners. Gaitskell and McKinsey said the experiment has far less radiation interference from cosmic rays than any other dark-matter lab. Essentially; scientists are searching for something they are fairly sure exists and is crucial to the entire universe. But they do not know what . . .IIS. Norway, on Wednesday. the town to provide workers for a hydroelectric plant he located at the foot of a nearby waterfall. The renowned engineer never saw his plan become reality, but his plant and the Telemark town he founded developed a special affection in the Norwegian imagination as the site of the coun CHET BROKEWTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS Richard Gaitskell from Brown University explains an experiment being conducted in an abandoned gold mine. it looks like or where to find it. And they are not sure if it's a bunch of light particles that weakly interact or if it is more like a black hole. "We are really searching in the dark in a way," said Harvard University physicist Avi Loeb, who is not part of the LUX team. ' A M , try's most famous wartime escapade. Occupied by the Germans during the Second World War, the factory was a staging post in Hitler's quest for the atomic bomb. The story of how 12 Norwegian saboteurs parachuted into the nearby tundra and survivedfreezing temper- "It will be lovely lo come out for an hour and feel this warmth on my face." Karin Roe, Rjukan resident atures to destroy the factory's "heavy water" plant inspired a 1965 Hollywood film, The Heroes of Telemark, and is being turned into a 10-part TV series by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyla In contrast to the shadow cast over Europe by Hitler's plan for an atomic weapon, the three mirrors ironically being remotely controlled from Germany captured the sunlight and sent it in an ellipse that illuminated about one-third of the square below. A band encouraged a cloud that weakened the effect to move away with the song, Let """"If 1 But they keep looking. Gaitskell has been hunting for dark matter for 25 years, originally thinking the effort would take five years. "It's like the pursuit of the Holy Grail, but hopefully this has a different outcome." Even more so than the recently discovered Higgs A15 . t . . . . . ."ic-'.-cr-KO r . - the Sunshine In. Jan-Anders Dam-Nielsen, director of the Norwegian Industrial Museum, located on the site of the famous factory, said the solar experiment would mark another chapter in the history of Rjukan. "Soon we will celebrate 70 years since the saboteurs struck the factory," he said. "Then we will think about how we mark this. This is a really important day in the history of this town. And like the mirrors reflected the sun, we will reflect this in the museum." Helicoptered in and installed 450 metres above the town square, the $850,000 US computer-controlled mirrors, or heliostats, are more commonly used to create solar power in sun-drenched regions of the Middle East. Here, the solar energy the heliostats capture is used to power their tilting trajectory as they follow the sun's brief dash across the Norwegian winter sky. The century-old idea was revived in 2005 by Martin Andersen, an artist and resident of the town, who helped raise the sponsorship money. The lion's share has come from Norsk Hydro, the company founded by Sam Eyde. in mine Boson, dark matter is central to the universe. "Dark matter holds every cosmic structure in the universe together," including our own galaxy, said University of Chicago cosmologist Michael Turner, president of the American Physical Society Turner was not part of the LUX study About one-quarter of the universe is comprised of dark matter five times that of the ordinary matter that makes up everything we see. Dark matter is often defined by what it isn't: something that can be seen and something that is energy. Researchers are pretty sure dark matter exists, but they are not certain what it is made of or how it interacts with ordinary matter. Dark matter is vital to all the scientific theories explaining how the universe is expanding and how galaxies interact and move.

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