The competition is fierce to be the first experiment to find dark matter, but the researchers say they care more about answers than fame. “At this point in my career, I am much less concerned with which experiment discovers the dark matter particles, and much more I would like to know within my lifetime,” Cabrera says.
LUX is the latest in a series of searches that have been running for more than three decades, all without finding conclusive evidence of dark matter. But the scientists are not discouraged. “I can’t say I’m disappointed,” says LUX co-spokesman Daniel McKinsey of Yale University. “We’re just so happy the instrument is performing so well.” LUX continues to gather data, and the researchers are already planning an even bigger xenon detector called LUX-ZEPLIN. “Hopefully, next time we’ll be announcing a [positive] result,” Gaitskell says. “That, as they say, we’ll leave in the lap of the gods.”