4850 Feet Below: The Hunt for Dark Matter

Deep in an abandoned gold mine in rural South Dakota, a team of physicists are hunting for astrophysical treasure. Their rare and elusive quarry is dark matter, a theoretical particle which has never been seen or directly detected. Yet its gravitational effect on distant galaxies hints at its existence and provides ample evidence to fuel the experiments and aspirations of scientists at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. Insulated by 4,850 feet of rock, the researchers have constructed the world’s most sensitive particle detector, known as the Large Underground Xenon Experiment, or “LUX.” Their goal is to use this complex device to capture an epiphanous event: the interaction between dark matter and atoms inside a chilled tank of liquid xenon. If they’re successful, the researchers may not only solve some of the biggest mysteries in astrophysics but affirm their faith in the nature of dark matter.


Produced and Directed by Luke Groskin
Filmed by Christian Baker
Edited by Erika Sutter
Animations by Gabe Darling
Produced with generous support from the John Templeton Foundation
Music by Audio Network
Sanford Underground Research Facility Photos by Matt Kapust
Dark Matter Universe Visualization by Ralf Kaehler (KIPAC/SLAC), Carter Emmart (AMNH) , Tom Abel(KIPAC/SLAC)
Additional Stills and Video Provided by Luke Groskin, Pond5, Shutterstock ,
Durham University, Large Binocular Telescope Organization,
José Francisco Salgado , NASA, ESA, ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2,
E. Jullo (JPL/LAM), P. Natarajan (Yale), J-P. Kneib (LAM)
Special Thanks to Jon Balajathy, Elizabeth Boulton, Danielle Dana, Jennifer Fenwick, Ira Flatow, Richard Gaitskell, Adam Gomez
Matt Kapust, Brian Lenardo, Daniel McKinsey, Lief Ristroph, Jenny Shalant, Wing To, Connie Walter

Meet the Producer

About Luke Groskin

Luke Groskin is Science Friday’s video producer. He’s on a mission to make you love spiders and other odd creatures.

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