The town of Lead South Dakota has a hidden gem: an enormous, underground mine that’s been retrofitted to accommodate large-scale particle physics experiments. These slideshows and videos give a sense of what it’s like to descend 4,850 feet below the surface and work on projects that could shine light on fundamental truths about the universe.
The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), the largest component of the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey, has measured the clustering of nearly 1.3 million galaxies spectroscopically to determine the “standard ruler” of the universe’s large-scale structure to within one percent. This is the most precise such measurement ever made and is likely to establish the standard for years to come.
The LUX dark matter experiment at the Sanford Underground Research Facility has announced its first results in the search for weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). Following an initial three-month run, LUX has demonstrated that it has a sensitivity limit three times better than any previous dark matter search, establishing new bounds on possible properties of WIMPs.
The LUX ZEPLIN (LZ) collaboration has received a major award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to support a year of research and development leading to a second-generation dark-matter experiment. Co‑principal investigators of LUX ZEPLIN are Gil Gilchriese of Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division and Tom Shutt of Case Western Reserve University. Bill
Through UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has made a $2.1 million grant to Berkeley Lab’s BigBOSS project. The grant funds the development of key technologies for modifying the 4-meter Mayall Telescope on Kitt Peak and constructing a precision instrument to study dark energy by mapping tens of millions of galaxies and quasars over the entire Northern Hemisphere sky.
By collecting tens of thousands of quasar spectra, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) has measured the large-scale structure of the early universe for the first time. Like backlights in the fog, the quasars illuminate clouds of hydrogen gas along the line of sight. No other technique can reach back over 10 billion years to probe structure at a time when the expansion of the universe was still decelerating and dark energy was yet to turn on.
On Wednesday, May 30, the Sanford Underground Research Facility officially opened its Davis Campus, almost a mile deep in the former Homestake gold mine in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The event brought over 60 visitors including officials from federal and state government, scientists from universities and national laboratories, and local and national media. Berkeley Lab is the U.S. Department of Energy’s lead institution for this marked advance in underground science.
The LUX Collaboration is searching for the leading candidates for unknown dark matter, weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. Located in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in the Black Hills, LUX’s 350 kilograms of liquid xenon and low background make it the most sensitive dark matter detector yet, but with the proposed LUX ZEPLIN Berkeley Lab researchers want to increase that sensitivity by orders of magnitude.