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Lead research facility studying dark matter dedicates building to Sen. Rounds

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:00 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Pioneers came to the Black Hills in the late 1800′s in search of gold, and in that same spirit the Black Hills are attracting the pioneers of today, scientists who are looking to unlock the secrets of the universe.

Friday a dedication ceremony was held at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, where a 26,000 square-foot building was named the Rounds Operation Center in honor of United States Senator Mike Rounds. This building will serve as the hub for the research conducted at the facility.

Part of that research will be unearthed from a mile underground, Lawrence Berkeley Senior Scientist, Dr. Kevin Lesko says they are hoping to make some ground breaking discoveries, “we understand about 4% of the universe, we understand the stuff we are standing on, the rocks, the gas, the stars. That’s a tiny fraction of the entire universe, and we hope to understand a lot more about that universe with the experiments we are conducting here.”

Chair of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority, Casey Peterson says Mike Rounds played a pivotal roll in turning this research facility from a dream to a reality, “we felt his contribution was so critical in the early years that he deserved the recognition of having this operation center named after him.”

This project will provide more opportunities in science for South Dakotans, “48,050 feet underground, their building huge caverns that are bigger than a football field and inside of there, there is going to be huge, huge structures, it’s going to take a lot of people that know how to design and weld, all of that happens here in South Dakota,” Rounds said.

Rounds adds, one of the things that will be studied underground is dark matter, “its an opportunity for us to learn about new forms of energy and literally as we learn how the universe works, we learn more than just nuclear energy whether it be fission or fusion, but very possibly the newest forms, of long-term energy, that next generations will use.”

Scientists and researchers are not hoping to uncover gold thousands of feet under the Black Hills, instead they are in search of a different kind of treasure, understanding our universe a little better.

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