The usual way of hunting dark matter may be all wrong

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If dark matter isn’t heavy and interacts even weakly with normal matter, we should drag our detectors out from underground to catch it

WHAT if we’ve been hunting for dark matter in the wrong place? If the particles are small and interact even slightly with normal matter, we may be able to spot them above ground.

Dark matter detectors are usually placed deep in mine shafts so the rock above will deflect unwanted background radiation while allowing the passage of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) – our best guess at the nature of dark matter.

It is possible dark matter may be less massive and able to crash into or bounce off regular matter. If so, Timon Emken and Chris Kouvaris at the University of Southern Denmark say that burying our detectors may be a mistake.

They simulated how light dark matter – particles with masses about the same as a proton or lower – would deflect and scatter as they pass through Earth and found that it might