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New Physics “Most-Wanted” List — The Hunt for Dark Matter Particles
Now that it looks like the hunt for the Higgs boson is over, particles of dark matter are at the top of the physics “Most Wanted” list. Dozens of experiments have been searching for them, but often come up with contradictory results. Theorists from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint SLAC-Stanford institute, believe they’ve come up with an algorithm – a mathematical description of how the individual dark-matter particles behave – that could help narrow the search for these elusive particles, which are thought to make up more than 25 percent of the matter and energy in the universe.
It starts with assumptions, said Yao-Yuan Mao, lead author of a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal that outlines their new search tool. Assumptions are a good starting point when you don’t know where to look. A popular assumption about dark matter is that it’s made up of WIMPs, Weakly Interacting Massive Particles. The “M” in WIMP accounts for gravity’s ability to herd these particles around; the “P” and “I” hint at why they’re so hard to detect otherwise.