e: dark matter

Could we create dark matter?

85% of the matter in our universe is a mystery. We don’t know what it’s made of, which is why we call it dark matter. But we know it’s out there because we can observe its gravitational attraction on galaxies and other celestial objects. 

We’ve yet to directly observe dark matter, but scientists theorize that we may actually be able to create it in the most powerful particle collider in the world. That’s the 27 kilometer-long Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, in Geneva, Switzerland.

So how would that work? In the LHC, two proton beams move in opposite directions and are accelerated to near the speed of light. At four collision points, the beams cross and protons smash into each other.

Protons are made of much smaller components called quarks and gluons. 

In most ordinary collisions, the two protons pass through each other without any significant outcome.

However, in about one in a million collisions, two components hit each other so violently, that most of the collision energy is set free producing thousands of new particles. 

It’s only in these collisions that very massive particles, like the theorized dark matter, can be produced.

So it takes quadrillions of collisions combined with theoretical models to even start to look for dark matter. That’s what the LHC is currently doing. By generating a mountain of data, scientists at CERN are hoping to find more tiny bumps in graphs that will provide evidence for yet unknown particles, like dark matter. Or maybe what they’ll find won’t be dark matter, but something else that would reshape our understanding of how the universe works entirely. 

And that’s part of the fun at this point. We have no idea what they’re going to find.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Could we create dark matter? - Rolf Landua

Animation by Lazy Chief

Guys listen.  Go watch Dark Matter.  It’s a scifi show (you can find the first two seasons on Netflix) about a ship full of people who have lost their memories and then deal with the shit that happens after they wake up, all the while learning to love one another and getting close and becoming friends and.  Listen it’s the perfect use of the found family trope LIKE IT’S DONE SO WELL and the character development IS AMAZING and everyone is SO PRETTY AND I’M GAY FOR THE ANDROID I’M GAY FOR THE ANDROID PLEASE WATCH IT