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Dark-matter detectors are designed to pick out electroweak interactions that occur extremely rarely. Besides seeking to identify what most of the universe is made of, the detectors can also probe exotic weak-force processes that take place in ordinary, baryonic matter. Using the XENON1T detector, researchers have identified an elusive weak decay—two-neutrino double-electron capture—in a xenon isotope and pinned its half-life at 1.8 × 1022 years, the longest half-life ever measured directly.

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Category: Science