Rita Bernabei on the Direct Detection of Dark Matter

New Hot Paper Commentary, September 2011

Rita Bernabei

Article: New results from DAMA/LIBRA

Authors: Bernabei, R;Belli, P;Cappella, F;Cerulli, R;Dai, CJ;d'Angelo, A;He, HL;Incicchitti, A;Kuang, HH;Ma, XH;Montecchia, F;Nozzoli, F;Prosperi, D;Sheng, XD;Wang, RG;Ye, ZP
Journal: EUR PHYS J C, Volume: 67, Issue: 1-2, Page: 39-49, Year: MAY 2010
* Univ Roma Tor Vergata, Dipartimento Fis, I-00133 Rome, Italy.
* Univ Roma Tor Vergata, Dipartimento Fis, I-00133 Rome, Italy.
(Addresses have been truncated)

Rita Bernabei talks with ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about this month's New Hot Paper in the field of Physics.

SW: Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

Direct detection of Dark Matter is one of the most exciting and frontier arguments of contemporary physics. It operates in astroparticle physics, a field where astrophysics, particle physics, nuclear physics, and cosmology strongly intersect. The paper presents further results obtained by exploiting a model independent signature proposed in the middle of the '80s by Freese et al., which is known as the Dark Matter annual modulation signature.

The cumulative exposure released by the former DAMA/NaI and by the present DAMA/LIBRA set-ups is 1.17 ton × yr, corresponding to 13 annual cycles. The data further confirm the positive evidence obtained by investigating the presence of Dark Matter particles in the galactic halo with this approach; the confidence level is 8.9 sigma for the cumulative exposure.

DAMA/NaI Experiment
DAMA/NaI Experiment. Read more about Rita Bernabei's work at the DAMA website.

DAMA/LIBRA in particular is still the highest radiopure set-up in the field with the largest exposed sensitive mass, full control of the running conditions, the largest duty-cycle, etc. and exposure orders of magnitude larger than any other activity in the field.

SW: Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

This research has pointed out—with high confidence level—model-independent evidence of the presence of Dark Matter particles in the galactic halo on the basis of the exploited Dark Matter annual modulation signature.

SW: Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman's terms?

The paper is an important dowel in the efforts to understand the origin and the evolution of the Universe and of our Galaxy. In particle physics it can also offer important complementary information on the physics beyond the Standard Model, now under study at the Large Hadron Collider.

SW: How did you become involved in this research, and how would you describe the particular challenges, setbacks, and successes that you've encountered along the way?

After a long and interesting career in particle and nuclear physics I was the promoter of this first experimental activity devoted to Dark Matter direct detection in Italy (on end of '80s – beginning of 1990), and with the DAMA collaboration pioneer works in the field have been realized. The increasing of efforts and experience also allows us to realize—always in the framework of the same DAMA project—several other kinds of low background set-ups and measurements on many different topics.

SW: Where do you see your research leading in the future?

Towards further progresses in technology and physics.

SW: Do you foresee any social or political implications for your research?

The typical implications which always can arise from technological and scientific progress.End

Rita Bernabei
Full Professor of Nuclear and Subnuclear Physics
Dipartimento di Fisica
Universita' di Roma Tor Vergata
Roma, Italy



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