formulating contingent predictions formulating precise forecasts calculating accurate insights exploring precise forecasts generating predictive wisdom mapping the future forecasting predictive insights mapping contingent insights forecasting accurate wisdom mapping accurate contingencies forecasting predictive forecasts exploring calibrated forecasts composing contingent estimations generating quantitative insights


Metaculus Help: Spread the word

If you like Metaculus, tell your friends! Share this question via Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

Will the XENON1T experiment soon report a detection of dark matter or other new physics?

A major goal of eperimental particle physics and cosmology is to identify the dark matter pervading the universe. Foremost candidates for this matter are WIMPS and axions. An ongoing test for WIMP-nucleon scattering is XENON1T in Italy, with a much higher sensitivity than preceding experiments; this dark matter detector is essentially a 3500 kilogram target of liquid Xenon sandwiched between two arrays of photomultiplier tubes. The arrays detect signals from scintillation and electron drift generated from particles scattering off Xenon nuclei, at which point known backgrounds will be subtracted out to get the WIMP signal.

Recently, the XENON1T experiment disclosed that it has some interesting events in hand; see preprint and popular article in Quanta. These happened not in its search for WIMP dark matter, but in looking for axions. Per the Quanta article,

As the WIMP search kept coming up empty, XENON scientists realized several years ago that they could use their experiment to search for other kinds of unknown particles that might pass through the detector: particles that bang into an electron rather than a xenon nucleus.

In their new analysis, the physicists examined electronic recoils in the first year’s worth of XENON1T data. They expected to see roughly 232 of these recoils, caused by known sources of background contamination. But the experiment saw 285 — a surplus of 53 that signifies an unaccounted-for source.

There are two interesting hypotheses to explain these excesses, one boring one, and then of course "other." The interesting ones are axions from the Sun, and a large neutrino magnetic moment. The boring one is contamination by tritium. According again to the article:

Luckily the physics community won’t have to wait long for answers; XENON1T’s successor, the XENONnT experiment — which will monitor for recoils in 8.3 metric tons of xenon — is on track to begin data collection later this year. So we ask:

Will the XENON1T or successor experiment soon announce detection of either type of physics beyond the standard model?

Resolution is positive if by the end of 2022, a paper or preprint is published including results by XENON1T (likely in combination with additional results from XENONnT or elsewhere) claiming or better evidence for either solar axions or a large neutrino magnetic moment. Resolution is negative otherwise.


Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

This question is not yet open for predictions.

Thanks for predicting!

Your prediction has been recorded anonymously.

Want to track your predictions, earn points, and hone your forecasting skills? Create an account today!

Track your predictions
Continue exploring the site

Community Stats

Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.

Embed this question

You can use the below code snippet to embed this question on your own webpage. Feel free to change the height and width to suit your needs.