Is it a dalek? No it’s a ZEPLIN III Dark Matter Detector!

This extraordinary cylinder of gleaming copper, glass and steel was donated to Whitby Museum by Imperial College, London in 2018. The detector had been used at Boulby Underground Laboratory. Boulby is the deepest mine in Britain, at almost a kilometre underground it makes the perfect place to study dark matter without the interference of normal background radiation.

During the 1960s and 70s astronomers working on spiral galaxies noticed smoothing wrong with their data, their findings revealed that the universe contained invisible matter that was exerting gravity. The theory of dark matter began.

The investigation and understanding of dark matter is crucial to our understanding of the universe. It is thought to be composed of particles known as WIMPs (Weakly Interactive Mass Particles). The ZEPLIN series of detectors started taking shape in the 1990s using xenon to detect the presence of WIMPs. ZEPLIN III was used at the underground laboratory from 2006 to 2011.

The full understanding of dark matter gets closer and we are proud that Whitby Museum continues to collect cutting edge artefacts almost 200 years after the acquisition of some of it’s first artefacts, The Kirkdale Cave Bones, which were important in the theory of evolution.