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Nobody has stumbled into an emergency room with an inexplicable lightsaber wound, as far as we know — and that tells us something about dark matter, a new study suggests.
Dark matter makes up about 85% of the material universe, meaning it's about six times more abundant than the "normal" stuff that makes up stars, planets, people and everything else we're familiar with.
Physicists - Number - Candidates - Particles - Axions
Physicists have come up with a number of dark-matter candidates, including hypothetical elementary particles such as axions, weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) and sterile neutrinos. But other theories hold that dark matter consists mostly of larger objects, with masses of a gram or more.
These theorized macroscopic dark-matter objects, or "macros," may be incredibly compact, with densities akin to those of atomic nuclei. If that's the case, there won't be all that many of them zooming through space — meaning macros may be very difficult to find.
Detector - Things - Jagjit - Singh - Sidhu
"We'd need a very large or a very old detector to find these things," said Jagjit Singh Sidhu, a physics doctoral student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
But scientists don't necessarily have to build such detectors; they're already out there, if you know where to look, Singh Sidhu reasoned recently. He and Case Western Reserve professors Glenn Starkman and Ralph Harvey determined that scientists could potentially spot evidence of macros in ordinary granite countertops.
Macros - Rocket - Space - Mph - Km/h
Macros, if they exist, likely rocket through space at about 560,000 mph (900,000 km/h) relative to our solar system. One that happened to hit a countertop would leave a path of vaporization in its wake, which would be obvious even after the rock resolidified.
The three researchers wrote up their idea and posted the unpublished study on the online preprint site arXiv.org this May. The paper caught the attention of Robert Scherrer, who chairs the physics and astronomy...
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