Shaken, Not Stirred

Is the key to finding dark matter. . . in your fridge?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Water freezes because impurities act as “seeds” for ice crystals to grow. But, if you put PURE water in the freezer, it can stay liquid – even below freezing! The slightest disturbance, though, and the water suddenly freezes. Sounds fun! Even better, this science trick may help us find the most elusive substance in the cosmos: dark matter!

See, dark matter can only be detected when it bumps into something. That’s where Matthew Szydagis at the University at Albany comes in. He uses supercooled water as a detector for dark matter. The plan: get a big tank of pure water. Next, get it really cold. If any dark matter bumps into the water — boom! You’ve got ice!

This detector will allow scientists to more easily study dark matter. Before, huge, sensitive, expensive equipment was needed to see it. Now all it takes is a tank of REALLY cold water!

You can use my freezer, Matt. Just don’t take my ice cream!