Minn. no longer matters in search for universe’s secret

Aaron J. Brown, who pens the Minnesota Brown online column, reports that funding for the Soudan Mine underground physics lab is in doubt, citing a Minnesota Timberjay report.

What do scientists do underground on the Mesabi range? No big deal. They’re just looking for the secret of the universe. Or at least they were. They were looking for the weakly interacting massive particle — WIMP — that may hold the universe together.

The possibility that the discovery may be made in Minnesota has always tickled the imagination. Sure, we might be flyover country. The only thing down here, perhaps, is the secret to everything.

In 2009, the New York Times reported that the physicists there had found the first “faint hope” of finding dark matter. Suffice it to say, that didn’t pan out. Otherwise, we would have heard about it.

In fact, the MINOS beam in the mine, is turned off. The guts of the effort were intended to be relocated to Canada. Labs in Europe are picking up much of the research into neutrinos, although there’s a glimmer of hope a lab in South Dakota can be funded.

We could’ve been somebody. But, alas, our shot at science immortality is as elusive as the question of what holds the universe together.

Related: ‘Dark sunshine’ could illuminate the search for dark matter (New Scientist).