Planet Earth

Physicists disappointed at discovery of dark mattress

Not Exactly Rocket ScienceBy Ed YongDec 18, 2009 3:58 PM

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Exciting hints that scientists had finally discovered the existence of dark matter - the mysterious substance thought to make up a quarter of the Universe - were dashed last night as researchers realised their equipment had detected a dark mattress instead.

The premature announcement was blamed on faulty software. "Apparently, someone left an errant ampersand in our code," said an embarrassed physicist, before weeping slowly into a whisky glass. The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) laboratory, buried half a mile underground in an iron mine, announced last night that they had found traces of the weakly-interacting massive particles (or WIMPs) that are thought to make up dark matter. Instead, they had actually detected a dirty poorly-sprung mattress, left in the cave by a weakly-inebriated, noxious old-timer (or WINO). "We thought there was around a one in four chance that we had found nothing," said one of the lead researchers, "but we now know there is a one in one chance that we have found the former sleeping materials of a sheltering vagrant." Laboratory technicians were saddened that the most important advance in recent physics had not come to pass, but noted that the dark mattress was really rather comfortable, if not a bit wet.

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