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Does dark matter exist? New evidence from cosmic rays is promising but inconclusive. And in five years' time, one company hopes to sequence our genomes while we wait

By Philip Ball   January 2009

Of cosmic rays and dark matter

Physicists’ understandable embarrassment that we don’t know what most of the universe is made of prompts an eagerness, verging on desperation, to identify the missing ingredients. Dark matter, which is thought to comprise around 85 per cent of tangible material, is very much on the experimental agenda. This invisible substance is inferred on several grounds, especially that galaxies ought to fall apart without its gravitational influence. The favourite idea is that dark matter consists of unknown fundamental particles that barely interact with visible matter—hence its elusiveness.

One candidate is a particle predicted by theories…

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