Dark Matter

Noah Fitch, Ben Carpenter, Jonathan Wu
Instructor: Luisa Caldas, TA: Vedant Saran,  Stephanie Daffara Spring 2019

Dark Matter Lab, Etcheverry Hall – Professor Karl van Bibber, The Haystac Project

The Dark Matter lab, headed by Professor Karl van Bibber, is located on Etcheverry Hall. Our VR project covers the Haystac experiment, which is conducted between UC Berkeley, Yale and CU Boulder. The goal of Haystac is to detect for the first time the axion, one of the dark matter candidate particles put forward by scientists. Dark matter probably forms about 25% of the universe but is undetectable to us since it emits no light and cannot be directly observable. Our VR experience starts behind the heavy metal door of the lab. A winding ramp leads to the laboratory space, which floats inside the very universe that it tries un unveil. 360 films of the laboratory interior are visible to the user by looking inside the floating spheres in the lab, where interviews with some of the participating scientists explain the ongoing experiments. Some of the main pieces of equipment are available to examine in VR, such as the axion cavity detector, the plasma deposition system and the cryostat. A scaled-up version of the axion detector can be visited inside, in a unique experience. Finally, the user can virtually perform some experiments that demonstrate how scientists have discovered the existence of dark matter.