UK lab challenges Swiss project

PA
Wednesday, Sept 10, 2008

Scientists working from a tiny laboratory at the bottom of Britain's deepest mine could beat a multibillion-pound Swiss project to crack the mystery of creation.

The team hope to pinpoint dark matter - the cosmic glue which is thought to bind together the universe.

If they succeed, they could snatch some of the glory from scientists operating the £3.5 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

And it would be a huge stride forward for scientists seeking to understand how the universe works.

The scientists operating the LHC, a 27km (16.8 mile) circumference particle accelerator built beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, expect to trace dark matter within two years.

But their rivals, based in a £2 million underground laboratory in Cleveland, could succeed in half that time.

Housed at the bottom of Boulby potash mine, where millions of tons of minerals used for fertiliser and for gritting roads is extracted every year, researchers from Edinburgh University and Imperial College London and STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have, with US, Portuguese and Russian collaboration, built two of the most sensitive astro-particle detection machines known to science.

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