May 13, 2018 9:00 am
Updated: May 13, 2018 11:48 am

From ‘Stranger Things’ to Sudbury: U.S. Department of Energy to launch new dark matter experiment

Stars of Netflix's 'Stranger Things' have reportedly landed a big pay increase for Season 3.


The U.S. Department of Energy, well-known to fans of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things as leading the fictional lab where very strange things indeed keep happening, just approved funding for a new experiment in an lab two kilometres underground in Sudbury, Ont.

But fear not: no demogorgons will be accidentally freed during the course of the testing.

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In the Netflix series, the Department of Energy operates a top-secret lab in the fictional 1980s town of Hawkins, Indiana, where scientists conduct research into parallel universes and telekinetic abilities.

It is during the course of some of that research that scientists in the show accidentally open up a gateway to an alternate dimension, known as the Upside Down, which is home to predatory creatures called demogorgons that are then freed to feast upon unsuspecting locals.

The real lab, however, will see the new research focus on one of the hottest topics in modern physics: dark matter.

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Dark matter is essentially a mysterious cosmic ingredient believed to make up roughly 27 per cent of the universe.

It does not emit light, reflect or absorb light, and cannot be measured using current instruments.

Scientists have so far only been able to infer that it exists because of the gravitational effect research indicates it has on galaxies.

However, the aim of the new experiment will be to use instruments 50 times more sensitive than those available now in order to hunt for particles of dark matter called Weakly Interacting Massive Particle in a facility.

“In experiments designed to detect dark matter particles, it is important to filter out background noise from cosmic rays, and the depth of the Sudbury mine serves that purpose,” said a spokesperson from the Department of Energy.

“It is an important effort to better understand the universe we live in.”

While American funding for the experiment was announced in 2014, the Department of Energy only just approved the allocation of those funds — a combined $31 million from two U.S. science agencies — and the start of construction with the goal of getting the project operational by the early 2020s.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation will contribute $3 million.

According to Hans Parmar, a spokesperson for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, said researchers from Canadian institutions will be working alongside international scientists on the experiment.

The Canadian contributing scientists to the experiment will include Queen’s University, the University of British Columbia, Université de Montreal and University of Toronto.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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