UW-Madison scientists join forces with top physicists, engineers and technicians around the world to prove the existence of dark matter.
It’s a 20-minute elevator ride down to the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota, where the former Homestake gold mine will soon hold the LZ Dark Matter Experiment in its cavernous belly. Most scientists, wedged in shoulder-to-shoulder, don’t mind the slow descent through 4,850 feet of dirt and rock — any faster, and they might pass out the way researchers do up at SNOLAB (another underground physics lab in Ontario), where every month or so, someone faints on the way down.
“At first you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m under-ground, there’s a lot of rock above me,” says assistant professor and astrophysicist Kimberly Palladino, who’s helping head up the team of nine UW-Madison scientists and engineers tapped to work on the LZ experiment, a collaborative U.S. Department of Energy-funded project comprised of more than 200 of the best minds from 31 institutions around the world. “After a week, it’s just where your office is.”