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A new widely anticipated experiment underneath a mountain in Italy designed to detect a sea of dark particles that allegedly constitute a quarter of creation did not see anything during a test run last fall, scientists reported Saturday.

But, they said, the clarity with which they saw nothing spurred hopes that such experiments are approaching the rigor and sensitivity necessary to detect the elusive gravitational glue of the cosmos. The results also cast further doubt on some controversial claims that dark matter has already been seen.

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