Delving into dark

HUMAN beings have always tried to probe the profound mysteries of the universe. Continuing the search, a powerful electromagnet is being used to detect subatomic particles known as Iaxions' at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in the us. It is hoped that ultimately the answer to the dark matter may be 'heard', if all goes according to plan. Astrophysicists have found that 90 per cent of the universe is made of dark matter, but beyond that they do not have any further clues. It could be anything like large planet-like objects or subatomic axions. If the axions are detected, then they are likely to weigh a billion or trillion times less than the lightest known particle, the electron. They are expected to interact weakly with matter and radiation.

The specially made us $1.4 million magnet which is 12-feet high and weighs 12 tonnes, has a tunable microwave cav- ity. This is slowly tuned, and at the right frequency the axions produce a weak signal.