Is Dark Matter a Myth?
More precise tests continue to fail to find dark matter or dark energy. How long do scientists get to look for occult phenomena that may not be real?
Astronomers believe in dark matter because it fits the big bang theory and their concepts of the age of the universe. But they cannot find it, no matter how hard they look. Here’s what recent news says:
Dark-matter hunt fails to find the elusive particles (Nature). The subtitle says that physicists are beginning “to embrace alternative explanations” for the elusive material.
Physicists are growing ever more frustrated in their hunt for dark matter — the massive but hard-to-detect substance that is thought to comprise 85% of the material Universe. Teams working with the world’s most sensitive dark-matter detectors report that they have failed to find the particles, and that the ongoing drought has challenged theorists’ prevailing views.
GPS search for domain-wall dark matter comes up empty (Nature Communications). “Cosmological observations indicate that dark matter makes up 85% of all matter in the universe yet its microscopic composition remains a mystery,” this paper begins. They looked for it in GPS data in the form of domain walls that should indicate the presence of dark matter. “Mining 16 years of archival data, we find no evidence for domain walls at our current sensitivity level.”
New Map of Dark Matter Puts the Big Bang Theory on Trial (Space.com). Experts at the Kavli Roundtable commiserated together recently, looking over a new map that fits theory but not reality. “The prevailing view of the universe has just passed a rigorous new test, but the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy remain frustratingly unsolved.”
Physics still can’t identify matter that makes up the majority of the universe (Dan Hooper in The Conversation). He begins with admissions of ignorance:
After decades of measurements and debate, we are now confident that the overwhelming majority of our universe’s matter – about 84 percent – is not made up of atoms, or of any other known substance. Although we can feel the gravitational pull of this other matter, and clearly tell that it’s there, we simply do not know what it is. This mysterious stuff is invisible, or at least nearly so. For lack of a better name, we call it “dark matter.” But naming something is very different from understanding it.
He does not “feel” dark matter from personal experience, of course, because it only affects large, massive objects like galaxies and clusters. What he means is that his theories require it to explain their motions. This sad article ends with defeatism and only a glimmer of hope: “the long-predicted particles associated with our favorite and most well-motivated theories have stubbornly refused to appear,” he says. But it’s not the fault of something that doesn’t seem to exist. He could have said, We have stubbornly refused to face the non-existence of particles we predicted and need for our favorite theories.
Perhaps the discoveries of such particles are right around the corner, and our confidence will soon be restored. But right now, there seems to be little support for such optimism.
In response, droves of physicists are going back to their chalkboards, revisiting and revising their assumptions. With bruised egos and a bit more humility, we are desperately attempting to find a new way to make sense of our world.
Earthbound Antimatter Mystery Deepens After Scientists Rule Out Pulsar Source (Space.com). This article discusses another attempt to find dark matter that failed. As more and more experiments fail to detect dark matter, the experiments get more bizarre and speculative. This team measured gamma rays from two pulsars as possible proxies for dark matter annihilation. It should have detected excess positrons, but did not. “In order to confirm a detection of dark mater [sic], I guess, there’s still a long way to go,” Zhou said. “We have to rule out all these astrophysical processes.”
Hunt for dark matter is narrowed (Science Daily). A snipe hunt for axions at the University of Sussex came back empty. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record: “Physicists hunting for dark matter in the universe have been sent ‘back to the drawing board’ after a new study has ruled out the existence of a sought-after particle in a wide range of masses.”
Do dark matter and dark energy exist? (Phys.org) The continued non-detection of dark things in the universe is causing some to think outside the box. Astronomer André Maeder from Geneva University has come up with a cosmological model based on “scale invariance of empty space” that doesn’t need either dark matter or dark energy.
Maeder’s discovery paves the way for a new conception of astronomy that will raise questions and generate controversy. “The announcement of this model, which at last solves two of astronomy’s greatest mysteries, remains true to the spirit of science: nothing can ever be taken for granted, not in terms of experience, observation or the reasoning of human beings,” concluded André Maeder.
An Alternative Foundation
This trend has now gone on for 15 years or more. Every experiment fails to find dark matter, much less dark energy. Why not realize that these occult phenomena do not exist? There is an alternative: creation. If the universe is intelligently designed, there ought to be indications of intelligent causes. Here’s one:
What is the computational power of the universe? (Phys.org). This futuristic article considers the limits of computing power with an interesting video from NIST (National Institute of Standards). When you’ve exhausted quantum computing, and quantum field computing, and black hole computing, what could possibly be left? In the video, Stephen Jordan takes it to the limit. The article concludes,
Jordan isn’t looking to convert the entire cosmos into a vast computing device (however marvelous a science-fiction premise that idea might make) but he is examining whether or not we can use what we see through our telescopes to gain insights into difficult computational problems.
Jordan applies this concept to a computer-stumping question called the number partitioning problem: If you had a pile of millions of very large numbers and wanted to divide them into two equal piles, how would you do it? The math is so difficult that it’s been considered as a practical basis for cryptography.
As it turns out, the universe has already processed a similar problem physically. Everywhere you look, empty space has a background energy density that is very close to zero. This near-zero value, which Einstein referred to as the Cosmological Constant, implies that the balance between energy from different fields related to fundamental universal forces somehow got sorted out well enough that we ended up with a fairly stable material universe. In essence, we live in a particular solution to partitioning.
Obviously, a mindless universe cannot calculate a solution to any problem, to say nothing of solving a problem larger than anything humans can conceive of approaching. Attributing the universe’s solution to a cause like “somehow” is only a cop-out, a restatement of the Stuff Happens Law.
A recent book by Geraint Lewis and Luke Barnes considers other examples of fine-tuning. A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos (Cambridge, 2016) examines cases of fine tuning, some of which are so extreme as to make the authors teeter on the edge of abandoning materialist assumptions. They are left with serious discussions about theism as a solution.
At ID the Future, Dr Brian Miller, research director for the Discovery Institute, explains the subject, “Why Information Is the Basis of the Universe.” He provides a logical explanation for the observations: the fundamental reality in the universe is not just matter and energy, but information. Some secularists like Paul Davies and John Wheeler, he notes, have warmed to the concept of information as the underlying “stuff” of reality. Intelligent design advocates, unlike the secularists, locate the source of the information in intelligent causes – namely, a Mind. For a book-length treatment, see William Dembski, Being As Communion.
If one is willing to embrace intelligent causes behind the fine-tuning of the universe, then it is no longer necessary to feel obligated to big bang theory, which was concocted to explain away God when it became obvious that the universe had a beginning (see Robert Jastrow’s classic short book, God and the Astronomers). The big bang is failing anyway, for multiple reasons. Christian theism, with an omniscient God creating a universe as a habitat for beings in His image, fits what we observe. And if God is Sovereign, as Christianity teaches, then He didn’t need billions of years to create. The need for dark matter and dark energy evaporates. That could be the reason they are not finding it.