DNA Transforms into Dark Matter Detector
Image: A supercomputer simulation of the Milky Way-size dark matter halo.
Underground experiments costing millions of dollars have still failed to find definite proof of the dark matter that supposedly makes up 90 percent of our Milky Way galaxy. But a much cheaper detector made of DNA could finally come up with the “smoking gun” for dark matter’s existence.
The smoking gun would come from finding both daily and annual changes in the detection of suspected dark matter particles called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) — pattern changes that would fit leading theories about dark matter. Scientists have figured out how thousands of DNA strands can show the direction of incoming WIMPs for the first time, so that they can detect the proposed pattern changes.
“The devil is always in the details and pilot experiments need to be done, but it is possible detectors could be built cost-effectively using known mature DNA manipulation and detection methods,” said Charles Cantor, chief scientific officer of Sequenom, Inc. and co-author of a new paper describing the dark matter detector.