Home > Astronomy, General Astronomy > Dark-Matter Labs Become Subterranean Centres for Science

Dark-Matter Labs Become Subterranean Centres for Science


Deep beneath our feet, below mountains and mine shafts, a scientific transformation is taking place.

Laboratories that were custom built to search for particles such as neutrinos, and most recently mysterious dark matter, are now being exploited by researchers all over the world to explore science outside the realm of astroparticle physics.

Writing in May’s edition of Physics World, Sean Paling, director and senior scientist at the Boulby Underground Laboratory in the UK, and Stephen Sadler, director at Durridge UK Radon Instrumentation and honorary research fellow at the University of Sheffield, describe how these deep underground laboratories are branching out into a wide range of topics, from research into instruments for Mars rovers to muon tomography, radioactive dating and astrobiology.

The Boulby laboratory, like many other underground labs in the world, offers an environment almost entirely free from cosmic-ray-particle interference, which is a constant source of unwanted particle noise on the Earth’s surface. Many groups beyond particle physics have realized that these environments would benefit their research too.

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