Rumors of the Dark Side

UPDATE: Direct link to the streaming video of the announcement.  Live blogging of the event at SLAC via JoAnne at Cosmic Variance.

You may have heard the wild rumors circulating around the physics blogosphere about the CDMS (Cryogenic Dark Matter Search) experiment taking place deep underground in an abandoned mine in northern Minnesota.  The rumor (which apparently started with this post at Resonaances) took some unusual behavior by the CDMS team, combined with the rumor of an article being published in Nature, led many to speculate that they were planning to announce detection of dark matter.

It turns out that these rumors were overly dramatic — apparently there is no Nature article, and Priscilla Cushman from the University of Minnesota has downplayed the rumors, calling them “lots of smoke and not much fire.”

However, they are still making dual announcements today at 5 o’clock EST, one at SLAC and one at Fermilab, and one will be webcast here.  So they have some sort of semi-major announcement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a claim of detection.  It could be a significant improvement on their experimental limits, or maybe detections at a level that doesn’t allow them to make any big claims.  For more thoughts on what might be announced, and what it might mean, see this post.

And now for a little speculation of my own:

  • In order to not spoil the surprise, no one in the CDMS collaboration is supposed to talk to the media or release their results in any way.  Apparently, they have extended this directive to young graduate students who don’t know anything anyway, which is amusing.
  • It was announced that the results would be posted on the arXiv before the talks, which I assumed would mean in the postings for Dec. 17th, which should be out by now.  And in fact, all the other subfields have been posted, but not high energy experiment, which is where I believe the CDMS results would be.  Just a coincidence, or something else?
  • There will also be a talk by CDMS at Minnesota on Friday, presenting what I believe will be the same results presented today.  This special talk is scheduled for one of the small seminar rooms, not the large colloquium lecture hall.  If an earth-shattering announcement were planned for Thursday, one might think that a larger room would be needed for Friday.  This makes me think that a smaller, but nevertheless important, announcement is coming.  The detection of dark matter will have to wait.

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