Detecting Dark Matter - The DRIFT Dark Matter Project
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Scientists have postulated the existence of invisible 'dark matter' since the 1930?s. This conclusion is based on the observation that galaxies are spinning at rates that cannot be explained by the visible matter and on numerous other cosmological measurements. Dark matter has yet to be detected; however in recent decades physicists and astronomers have narrowed down the possibilities. Weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs, are a leading dark matter candidate. The DRIFT detectors constructed at Occidental and run in Boulby, UK, attempt to detect WIMP-recoils using low-pressure time projection chambers. These unique detectors allow the direction of the recoils to be detected. I will explain the theory behind dark matter, with a focus on rotation curves of spiral galaxies, and why the detection of the direction of WIMP recoils is so important.