April 4, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

The Dark Side of Dark Matter Hunts

Dark matter is still a no-show. What will it take for cosmologists to give up on a fruitless quest?

Chalk up another failure; one of the candidates for dark matter, the axion, did not turn up in the latest sensitive search. For years, most hunts have focused on WIMPs or MACHOs, but those continually failed. Phys.org reports, “Dark matter experiment finds no evidence of axions.”

Physicists from MIT and elsewhere have performed the first run of a new experiment to detect axions—hypothetical particles that are predicted to be among the lightest particles in the universe. If they exist, axions would be virtually invisible, yet inescapable; they could make up nearly 85 percent of the mass of the universe, in the form of dark matter.

Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak

Kitt Peak Mayall Telescope, c. David Coppedge

One of the problems with this candidate is that axions are just as hypothetical as dark matter itself. This means that physicists are looking for one ghost to explain another ghost.

While they are thought to be everywhere, axions are predicted to be virtually ghost-like, having only tiny interactions with anything else in the universe.

“As dark matter, they shouldn’t affect your everyday life,” Winslow says. “But they’re thought to affect things on a cosmological level, like the expansion of the universe and the formation of galaxies we see in the night sky.”

In short, cosmologists need the ghosts to keep their theory from failing. But is dark matter even needed?

Unusual galaxies defy dark matter theory (Phys.org). A team from the Keck Observatory found a galaxy without dark matter:

After drawing both praise and skepticism, the team of astronomers who discovered NGC 1052-DF2 – the very first known galaxy to contain little to no dark matter – are back with stronger evidence about its bizarre nature.

Oddly, the team is claiming that the non-discovery of dark matter in this bizarre galaxy is actually evidence for dark matter. The idea is that regular matter and dark matter act independently, so it should be possible to find them with separate means. This is like saying that since they didn’t find ghosts in the living room, it may still be possible to find them hiding in the bedroom.

Physicists constrain dark matter (Phys.org). The Russians are in collusion with this conspiracy to find dark matter. Sometimes they use misinformation to claim victory: saying they have “constrained” dark matter actually means they found where it isn’t. Their next hoped-for candidate particle would be 28 orders of magnitude lighter than an electron! That is so tiny and difficult to detect—even if it exists—that legitimate objections could be lodged against any claimed detection about low signal-to-noise, or measurements contaminated by theory. On the other hand, maybe dark matter is 40 orders of magnitude heavier, they say. While speculating on ghosts, might as well have some fun!

Lemmings, by JB Greene. Used by permission.

Back to Evidence and Sense

Astrophysicist Sabine Hossenfelder brings a breath of fresh air to cosmology’s obsession with unobservable phantoms. In her blog BackReaction for March 14, 2019, she mocks, “Particle physicists excited over discovery of nothing in particular.” Incredulous that her colleagues in physics are excited about their failures, she says,

The logic here seems to be this: First, mass-produce empty predictions to raise the impression that a costly experiment will answer some big questions. Then, if the experiment fails to answer those questions, proclaim how exciting it is that your predictions were wrong. Finally, explain that you need money for a larger experiment to answer those big questions.

The most remarkable thing about this is that they actually seem to think this will work.

Needless to say, if the analysis of the recent data reveals a signal of new effects, then the next collider will be built for sure. If nothing new shows up, then particle physicists can either continue to excitedly deny anything went wrong, or realize they have to act against hype and group-think in their community.

Just because some particle discoveries were predicted, such as the Higgs boson, that does not mean that every prediction will be confirmed, Hossenfelder reasons.

However, the predictions for new particles besides the Higgs were all wrong. And now, rather than owning up to their mistakes, particle physicists want you to think it’s exciting they have found neither dark matter, nor extra dimensions, nor supersymmetry, nor anything else that is not in the standard model.

For Relief from Headache, Bang Head Here

Meanwhile, big-bang cosmologists have pushed the lumpiness problem into a new contortion. Space.com announced, “Universe Quickly Spawned Stars After Big Bang, Ancient Galaxy Shows.” The galaxy is said to have formed a mere 500 million Darwin Years after the big bang. And it already had oxygen (a heavy element, for astronomers), implying that its stars had already matured and gone supernova. At the rate they are discovering early galaxies, they will find instant galaxies popping into existence right after the bang itself.

Might as well read Genesis 1 now and get ahead of their game. The dark side of dark matter hunts, as alluded in our headline, is that scientists are lying to the public about the solidity of the “standard model” because they are engaged in groupthink.


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