Posted Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, at 9:07 AM
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What exactly is dark matter? It’s thought to be the basis of 83 percent of the universe, but can’t be seen or verified directly. A group of scientists are turning to the hive mind with a new contest they hope will enlist thousands to measure the mysterious “matter” in return for some modest cash prizes.
Since we do know that dark matter helps form galaxies with its gravitational pull, the contest asks how that happens and how dark matter is distributed throughout the universe. Calling the question “one of the great scientific challenges of the 21st century," organizers are offering bounties of $3,000 to $12,000 for teams who come up with the most compelling answers.
The contest seeks to attract sharp minds from beyond traditional science circles, including engineers and amateur astronomers. Entrants have until Dec. 16 to puzzle over their task and they can get started right here.