January 9, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Excuses for Missing Dark Matter

Astronomers display creativity at rationalizing their inability to find what they believe makes up the bulk of the universe.

Something is wrong with a theory that can’t find 95% of the universe. Cosmologists can’t find dark matter or dark energy, but their theories need it. They can’t explain the motions of galaxies and star clusters without it, they can’t explain cosmic acceleration without it, and they can’t explain the big bang without it. It’s gotta be there! Where is it? What is it? To hide their embarrassment, they resort to imagination and storytelling.

Giant atoms could help unveil ‘dark matter’ and other cosmic secrets (The Conversation). A PhD student at the University of Leeds introduces the problem. “The universe is an astonishingly secretive place,” Diego A. Quiñones begins. “Mysterious substances known as dark matter and dark energy account for some 95% of it. Despite huge effort [sic] to find out what they are, we simply don’t know.” He postulates a new probe for the elusive stuff using atoms stretched 4,000 times their original size, taut as a guitar string that could vibrate with the slightest pressure, such as whatever-dark-matter-is might produce.

The case for co-decaying dark matter (Phys.org). Maybe as the universe cooled as it expanded all that dark matter was “annihilated away.” That’s the creative solution in this article. In fact, maybe it annihilated faster than cosmologists thought it did. If so, it would be a waste of time to look for it directly. Indirect methods might work better. Is that something like daydreaming about it?

No trace of dark matter in gamma-ray background (University of Amsterdam). Another search method has come up empty. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record; we came, we saw, we were conquered by non-detection.

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) GRAPPA Center of Excellence have just published the most precise analysis of the fluctuations in the gamma-ray background to date. By making use of more than six years of data gathered by the Fermi Large Area Telescope, the researchers found two different source classes contributing to the gamma-ray background. No traces of a contribution of dark matter particles were found in the analysis….

To date, the Fermi telescope has not detected any conclusive indication of gamma-ray emission originating from dark-matter particles. Also, this latest study showed no indication of a signal associated with dark matter. Using their data, [Mattia] Fornasa and colleagues were even able to rule out some models of dark matter that would have produced a detectable signal.

‘Our measurement complements other search campaigns that used gamma rays to look for dark matter and it confirms that there is little room left for dark matter induced gamma-ray emission in the isotropic gamma-ray background’, says Fornasa.*

*That fail is for NASA.

Universe May Have Lost ‘Unstable’ Dark Matter (Live Science). Reporter Jesse Emspak turns to a theory by Russians for light in the dark. But can they really claim this? “We have now, for the first time, been able to calculate how much dark matter could have been lost and what the corresponding size of the unstable component would be.” If you don’t know what you are starting with, and can’t see it, how can you calculate anything about it? They add to the folly, saying, “dark matter may still be disintegrating even now.” None of this helps anyway. Their calculations can only account for a loss of 5% of dark matter since the big bang.

First test of rival to Einstein’s gravity kills off dark matter (New Scientist). Another way to cover up embarrassment is to distract attention to a rival theory. “A controversial approach to gravity that challenges Albert Einstein and suggests dark matter doesn’t exist has passed its first test,” reports Mark Anderson. “Modified Newtonian Dynamics” (MOND) claims that gravity acts differently at different scales. Toss in some quantum mechanics, relativity, information theory and string theory, like Erik Verlinde does at the University of Amsterdam does, and you don’t need dark matter. Majority cosmologists will likely find this solution worse than the disease. “So if Verlinde’s is the better match, what’s the problem?” Anderson writes. Answer: “Gravitational heresy.” It “borders on sacrilege” to propose modifying some of the best-tested theories in physics, one critic says.

More Dark Mysteries

Phys.org announced a cosmic puzzle, “The mystery of part-time pulsars.” This isn’t about dark matter per se, but it relates to another puzzle lurking “in the dark regions of space.” Suraiya Farukhi says, “A new discovery has upended the widely held view that all pulsars are orderly ticking clocks of the universe.” The famous Arecibo radio telescope caught two “extremely strange” pulsars doing a “cosmic vanishing act” – “Sometimes they are there, and then for very long periods of time, they are not.” These mysterious spinning stars somehow switch their radio beams on and off. “They’re ON and then they’re gone, disappearing without any apparent warning.” Maybe these are just oddballs. No; “The most important implication of this discovery is that there must exist an extremely large number these vanishing act pulsars.” In fact, they could “far outnumber normal pulsars.” The abnormal is set to become the new normal.

Another cosmic puzzle was announced by Nature. Remember the lavish celebrations when the LIGO instrument appeared to confirm Einstein’s theory last year by detecting gravitational waves? Get this: “LIGO black hole echoes hint at general-relativity breakdown.” The article says, “Researchers find echoes in the LIGO data that show tentative signs of firewalls or other exotic physics.” Apparently the law fails at the edge of black holes, but more analysis will be required to be sure. “The echoes could yet disappear with more data. If they persist, the finding would be extraordinary.” In support of relativity, though, a report on Space.com suggests that Einstein’s equations explain how the sun was able to shed some of its angular momentum by releasing it through hot photons emitted from the surface. The low angular momentum in the sun, where it should be the highest according to the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum, has been a long-standing problem. The effect is slight, but the sun has been shedding it a long time, the article says. What this will do to theories of stellar evolution is not yet known.

And you thought Science had escaped the occult into the Age of Reason. It has evolved into Reasons for the Occult.




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  • lux113 says:

    Do they somehow miss the immense humor of using an atom stretched to 4,000 times it’s size as a taut string to detect the ever illusive thing that makes up 95% OF ALL MATTER???

    It shouldn’t be hard to find. It’s practically all the matter in existence. Did anyone check under the couch cushions? I seem to have misplaced THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE MATTER IN THE UNIVERSE.

    It’s not even funny … it’s just sad.

  • mattP says:

    Fair questions lux113. A little perspective though is that if you hold your hand towards the sun billions of particles called neutrinos pass through your hand every second. Yet it took the massive detector Super-Kamiokande in Japan to detect the full neutrino signal from the sun in the late 1990s. They are very tricky to find but we finally found a way to measure them despite trillions upon trillions passing through the earth constantly. Successes like these I think can give hope to detecting such an elusive particle (if it exists at all).

    As for stretching atoms to 4,000 times its size that is something we can currently do now and the original article wrote of it being quite sensationalized. Consider a normal atom. It has a nucleus with electrons orbiting the nucleus. The nucleus is made up of protons and nuetrons and is roughly 0.000000000000001 m in diameter. The atom on the other hand, is over 10,000 times larger where the electron orbits at. If you excite the electron more (it effectively moves further away from the nucleus) and the atom can become 4,000+ times larger but all that the phrase means is that the electron is 4,000 times further away from the nucleus than it was before. A Hydrogen atom for example would be on the order of 0.000001 m still even after being stretched by a factor of 4,000.

    @The Author. What is the standard idea or interpretation for the idea of dark matter for Y.E.C.? I am looking to sort all of this stuff out and would assume you would be more partial towards MOND or the Emergent Gravity theory of Verlinde. Both ideas are interesting though aren’t easily testable (with unique predictions that are different than the standard dark matter model) and both require that Newton and Einstein were wrong in their descriptions and formulations of gravity which as you noted, “gravitational heresy.”

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