National Geographic

Physicists disappointed at discovery of dark mattress

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.

There are 15 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Lyr
    December 18, 2009

    lol!

  2. Bob O’H
    December 18, 2009

    Was the dark mattress where the big bang took place?

  3. Ed Yong
    December 18, 2009

    And now t’is my turn to lol.

  4. Michele Arduengo
    December 18, 2009

    Awesome. Thanks for the Friday afternoon chuckle.

  5. Zach Miller
    December 18, 2009

    Good one, Ed. WINO…heh heh…

  6. Arabian Stallion
    December 18, 2009

    LMAO!

  7. Mike Olson
    December 18, 2009

    I’m still trying to figure out how the ships-boson can go back in time….

  8. aimeemax
    December 18, 2009

    LOL!
    Then I read the article and they said dark matter might consist of …”weakly interacting massive particles (Wimps) and massive compact halo objects (Machos)”. heehee

  9. Carey Rowland
    December 18, 2009

    Did the mattress have black hole in it? If so, then the whole thing doesn’t matter anyway.

  10. Paul Sunstone
    December 19, 2009

    Thanks for the chuckle! :)

  11. IanW
    December 19, 2009

    LoL! That was choice!

  12. Briana
    December 19, 2009

    lol, Ed. I bet the WINO is hiding the REAL dark matter under his dark mattress.

  13. Emily
    December 20, 2009

    Nice and Onion-y.

  14. william e emba
    December 21, 2009

    For the record, wino really is the name for the hypothesized supersymmetric partner to the W boson.

  15. Ken Creten
    December 22, 2009

    That made me laugh. I’m trying to come up with a joke including the obelisk from 2001, but there’s nothing but screaming voices in my head….

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