Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ok, I should be getting ready to go to the airport, but I was just reading about the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, a project trying to find the stuff that might be dark matter (weakly interacting massive particles) in the bottom of a mine shaft in Minnesota. What they've got is a great big icebox shielded with layers and layers of polyethylene and lead. Which is not the part that's got me all worked up.

See, lead generates its own radiation, and any atomic movement at all could interfere with gathering a WIMP signal, so the lead that they use? Is made out of a 2,000 year old Roman shipwreck, because the radioactive leftovers in ancient lead have had time to decay.

Ancient Roman lead is what's helping the physicists do modern particle science. Things just don't get any more perfect than that.

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