July 21, 2012 | David F. Coppedge

Dark Matter Remains Missing

The most sensitive test to date for dark matter in the form of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) has turned up nothing.

Live Science announced that a sensitive underground detector in Italy has turned up no definitive evidence for WIMPs after 13 months of searching.  This either means (1) WIMPs are harder to detect, (2) WIMPs don’t exist, or (3) dark matter is MACHO: Massive Compact Halo Objects made up of ordinary matter.   Serendipitously, the article was accompanied by a picture of a macho-looking bodybuilder advertising a muscle-building product.

Reporter Clara Moskowitz said that “Dark matter is thought to make up about 83 percent of the matter in the universe, yet scientists can’t see or touch it.”  She didn’t specify who thought this.

By now everyone has heard the tentative reports of the Higgs Boson being found at last.  John Horgan put the discovery in context at Scientific American, remarking that “the Higgs doesn’t take us any closer to a unified theory than climbing a tree would take me to the Moon.”  He also had some sharp words about the political hype over the misnomer, “God particle.”

If they want to keep looking for the mysterious unknown stuff, nothing is stopping them, as long as they pay for it themselves.  It’s happened before (alchemy, phlogiston, caloric).  There should be a reasonable time limit and funding limit before requiring them to drop a dead-end theory and work on something that explains 83% of reality better.


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  • soulliberty says:

    Have you seen this claim that Dark Matter has now been directly observed? http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-dark-matter-filament-20120705,0,6132875.story

  • Editor says:

    If you read the LA Times article closely, they’re not talking about WIMPs, but inferring the presence of hidden mass between two galaxy clusters in the form of a theoretical filament. As for “directly observing” it, the reporter is leaping beyond the actual data. The “filament” is highly theory-laden, not directly observable. It was inferred by subtracting known visible masses causing light bending, then assuming that the rest “must be” the theoretical dark matter filament.

    Remember that scientists and their institutions have a vested interest in being the first to find something, and reporters have a vested interest in reporting sensational discoveries.

  • socko says:

    I wrote something interesting but 83% of it seems to be missing

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