Dark Matter and Economic Boom
Relative to: the search for dark matter and local economic growth.
The scientific community would love for the LUX program to find dark matter. This is one of the messages of Brooke Borel’s Popular Science piece, Almost a Mile Below South Dakota, A Race to Find Dark Matter. Nestled in the small town of Lead, SD is an old gold mine that has been retrofitted into the DUSEL Complex (Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory). The mission of the LUX Project at DUSEL: be the first team to actually observe the presence of dark matter. Dark matter, after all, has only been hypothesized–though many accept that something like dark matter exists and holds the universe together.
But there is something smaller than the successful discovery of dark matter in Lead, SD that may be much bigger, too. Thanks, frankly, to the investments spent on theoretical physics, a town is being reborn. Economic growth has accompanied the DUSEL development, like that which accompanied the Homestake Mining Co.s gold mine a century earlier. Hopefully a boom-and-bust pattern doesn’t need to ensue. But other impacts are occurring, too. The locals, according to Borel, love the project. They support the scientists objective, attend lectures on the topics of research, meet physicists at the bar for discussions about dark matter. “The town’s visitor center sells T-shirts emblazoned with the lab’s logo and the words “Nerds Searching for WIMPs.”
Theoretical physicists setting up shop in a South Dakota gold mine to search for dark matter, and you know what, everyone wins. There is more going on in the world than economic hard times. Maybe attempting to answer the universe’s mysteries can provide us with practical results as well as understanding.