Do signals from beneath an Italian mountain herald a revolution in physics?

Dennis Overbye in the New York Times:

A team of scientists hunting dark matter has recorded suspicious pings coming from a vat of liquid xenon underneath a mountain in Italy. They are not claiming to have discovered dark matter — or anything, for that matter — yet. But these pings, they say, could be tapping out a new view of the universe.

If the signal is real and persists, the scientists say, it may be evidence of a species of subatomic particles called axions — long theorized to play a crucial role in keeping nature symmetrical but never seen — streaming from the sun.

“It’s not dark matter but discovering a new particle would be phenomenal,” said Elena Aprile of Columbia University, who leads the Xenon Collaboration, the project that made the detection.

In a statement, the collaboration said that detecting the axions would have “a large impact on our understanding of fundamental physics, but also on astrophysical phenomena.”

More here.