Detecting Dark Matter with Gold

Once again, precious metals are at the forefront of technological development as a team of physicists and biologists announced gold as a critical component in their dark matter detector.

Dark matter is theorized to be the most abundant substance in the universe, but it cannot be observed because it does not emit or absorb or react with light in any way. Deep underground where other signals or radiation won’t interfere, the above-mentioned scientists are developing a dark matter detector using a thin gold sheet, Mylar sheets, and specially engineered DNA.

Strands of DNA hang from the gold sheet forming a kind of “forest.” The scientists theorize that any present dark matter particles will smash into the gold’s heavy nucleus – pushing it out of the gold sheet and through the DNA forest. Each DNA strand has a unique identifier, so scientists can trace the path of the gold nucleus with extreme precision.

The design still has some kinks that need to be worked out before it starts detecting dark matter. First, scientists aren’t sure exactly how a fast-moving gold nucleus will interact with a strand of DNA. Secondly, the DNA needs to be engineered so it can both hang straight (DNA is usually curled into its iconic double-helix) and absorb the energy of the gold nucleus. But once scientists can create the type of DNA they need, gold could play a critical role in a major scientific discovery.

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