Dark Matter Particles Detected Deep in Mine
Astounding find may yield answers to universe mysteries
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2009 1:43 AM CST
Updated Dec 18, 2009 6:06 AM CST
The distortion of some galaxies in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope indicates the existence of dark matter, NASA says.   (NASA)

(Newser) – Scientists searching for traces of the mysterious substance believed to make up most of the universe's mass believe they have detected it for the first time at the bottom of an old mine in Minnesota. A team of physicists say detectors placed half a mile underground to shield them from cosmic rays appear to have captured two dark matter particles, the New York Times reports.

There is a one in four chance that the result may have been caused by some other effect, the physicists say, but if the find is confirmed, it will rank as one of the greatest discoveries in physics of the last century. The invisible, subatomic particles are the stuff that holds the rest of the universe together, scientists say, and could explain mysteries such as why time only moves in one direction. The team plans to install more sophisticated detectors in the mine next year.