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Columbia UniversityThe President's Report 2002-2007
Groundbreaking Work
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Elena Aprile (Physics/Applied Physics)

This new device can detect dark matter, the never-found state of matter that current theory says should make up 90 percent of the universe.

The universe is believed to be made up of two kinds of matter—ordinary matter that our daily experiences make us aware of, and dark matter that is much more abundant but whose composition remains a mystery. Physicist Elena Aprile and her team of thirty investigators are performing experiments to understand exactly what dark matter is and what kinds of fundamental particles it contains. These physicists intend to capture dark matter particles colliding with their XENON-10 detector. This special detector is located nearly a mile underground beneath a mountain in order to shield it from other kinds of stray particles that move through the universe that may confuse the interpretation of experiment. Understanding the composition of dark matter will have a profound effect on our views of the universe and its origins.
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