Science Blog Reaction Project, #1

The science blog is titled: In the Deep, a Drive to Find Dark Matter and is found at:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161220-elena-aprile-interview-dark-matter/

It consists of an interview with Elena Aprile, who is a physicist at Columbia University. She leads the XENON experiment in an Italian Alps mountain search for Dark Matter Particles.

The three students who are reporting on this are:

  1. Jonus Cottrell
  2. Arsh Kaul
  3. Mickey DeJong

Your reports should be written as comments to this post which I must approve before they are publicly available. I suggest that you work on them off-line and paste your results in. Any formatting can be done after that. Your reaction should include:

  • a short summary of what the article was about.
  • what you knew beforehand about the subject
  • what you learned from the article that you found interesting
  • which of the Big Questions does this article address (they are listed in the Introduction tab on the website and the first day’s class slides).

If you did any outside reading to help you with these, please indicate the source and what you learned from it. That might be a good idea and I’ll reward you for that.

Let’s test that this works for all of us!

Reply to this post with a comment – each of you – ….just a “howdy” will be sufficient. I’ll be in touch on Facebook when I’ve seen something from all three of you and I know that it’s working okay. Then we’ll start the clock. Okay?

7 comments to Science Blog Reaction Project, #1

  • Mickey Kost

    Howdy, sorry for the late reply!

  • Mickey Kost

    “In the Deep, a Drive to Find Dark Matter” details the life of Elena Aprile, a physicist who is searching for a particle which is responsible for dark matter. These particles, known as WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles), are searched for by Aprile by pouring liquid xenon into a vat and wait for a passing WIMP, yet none have been found. Along with discussing the techniques and history of her work, the interview also delved into her life as a scientist and the social implications of the field; whether that be being a woman or the race to find WIMPs. I knew very little of dark matter before this article. Pretty much nothing, to be honest. But in my searches of dark matter, I found that dark matter is not a traditional matter that we are used to. It is not stars or planets that we see. Dark matter, shockingly, is dark. It makes up about 30% of our universe1. To be clear, dark matter is different from dark energy and antimatter. What I found interesting about this article was Aprile’s view on a scientific life. She said that it is no 9-5 job, and that if you are going into it, you need to be made of titanium. I suppose I never understood the kind of commitment a scientist must make to achieve their goal. The Big Question this article addresses is: What is the quantum nature of Dark Matter? By knowing what dark matter is not, Aprile is striving to know what it is.

    1. https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy

  • Arsh Kaul

    As a respected female professor of physics at Columbia University, Elena Aprile is the lead scientist in the XENON dark matter experiment and hopes to be the first to discover weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) that are attributed to dark matter. Dark matter makes up about 27% of our universe and is an unidentified type of matter that has gravitational effects on galaxies and galaxy clusters. This article articulates how the XENON dark matter experiment works. 3.5 tons of liquid Xenon is poured into a large tank and is then shielded from cosmic rays and the only thing left to do is wait for a passing WIMP to collide with a Xenon atom’s nucleus and observe the tiny flash of light that should result. Based off the interview with Elena Aprile, discovering the WIMP or even finding out that there is no WIMP will benefit the cause of understanding dark matter. This interview also brings about the background of Elena Aprile. She was once a summer student at CERN working with Carlo Rubbia, a Nobel Prize winner for Physics, and a few decades later has become just as relevant in the field of physics as him if not more. Aprile came up with the idea of using liquid Xenon instead of liquid Argon for experiments to find WIMPs which proves to be much more promising in the search to discover WIMPs. I researched a little about dark matter before reading this article while I was doing my book report on antimatter. When I was first reading about antimatter in my book I was wondering if it was just another name for dark matter and I was curious to find out if they were the same thing. With a simple google search I found a video explaining what dark matter was and I realized that dark matter is far different than antimatter. Dark matter is still something that we haven’t observed even though it makes up 27% of our universe, unlike antimatter which we have created and directly observed in labs at CERN. I’ve learned many things from this article. Prior to reading this article I had no clue how physicists even tried to observe dark matter. But after reading this article I learned that it was through discovering WIMPs that we could observe dark matter. The Big Question this article addresses is “What is the nature of Dark Matter?”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAa2O_8wBUQ
    – this was the video I watched while doing my antimatter book review

    http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/april-2015/ten-things-you-might-not-know-about-antimatter
    – here is an article about antimatter if anyone is curious as to what that is

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