November 22, 2019 | Jerry Bergman

Dark Matter Still Missing After Many Decades

 

All the proposed candidates for mysterious, unknown stuff have failed to materialize, putting Big Bang theory in trouble.

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

The cover story of the November 16-22 New Scientist announced prominently on the cover:

“DARK MATTER: We still haven’t found it. Our theories are falling apart. Is it time to rethink the universe?[1]

Dan Hooper, author of the cover story, is worried, because Dark Matter theory is a necessary support for the Big Bang. Thus, the Big Bang theory is also in trouble, as is the current theory about

how stars move within galaxies, and how galaxies move within galaxy clusters. Without it, we can’t explain how such large collections of matter came to exist, and certainly not how they hang together today. But what it is, we don’t know. Welcome to one of the biggest mysteries in the universe: what makes up most of it. Our best measurements indicate that some 85 per cent of all matter in our universe consists of “dark matter” made of something that isn’t atoms.[2]

This means that the visible universe, with all its complexity and diversity, amounts to only a fraction of what secular astronomers know. The rest is invisible, because it does not give off radiation that is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Scientists have been trying to find dark matter since it was proposed 80 years ago. Scores of articles now echo the New Scientist cover story. An example is the headline that announced “New data tracking the movements of millions of Milky Way stars have effectively ruled out the presence of a ‘dark disk’ that could have offered important clues to the mystery of dark matter.”[3]

From axions to WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles), “many candidates have been proposed as dark matter’s identity — and sought to no avail in dozens of experiments.”[4] Even as far back as 1992, Davis indicated the Dark Matter theory is in trouble.[5] One study that reanalyzed the data obtained as early as 1983 by the infrared astronomical satellite was felt by some astronomers to have delivered “a fatal blow” to the theory of cold dark matter.[6]

The newest “fatal blow” was the end result of the experiments from the XENON1T detector under the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy, the LUX detector in South Dakota and the Sichuan, China PandaX-II detector, each of which was “roughly 10,000 times as sensitive as the most sophisticated dark matter detectors operating in 2006.” None of them found any evidence of dark matter.[7] This multimillion dollar investment is what the New Scientist article referenced above referred to: Is it time to rethink the universe?

Dark Matter Critical to the Big Bang

Dark matter is a critical pillar of the Big Bang theory.[8] Thus, “dark matter’s no-show could mean a big bang rethink.”[9] Fritz Zwicky was the first to postulate dark matter in the 1930s from his observations of the large motions of galaxies in clusters. Observations to assemble a reasonable understanding of the universe by both radio and optical telescopes have suggested that there must exist large amounts of matter in the universe that do not give off electromagnetic radiation, including radio and light waves; therefore, this matter cannot be detected directly from Earth by existing methods. The theory has historically concluded that between 85 and 99 percent of the matter in the universe consists of dark matter and dark energy. This range of estimates indicates our lack of ability to determine the amount of “missing matter.”

For matter in outer space to be observed, it must emit radiation that can be picked up by optical or radio telescopes. Matter that does not produce light or heat, i.e., is not energized by the means normally used to produce electromagnetic radiation, is detectable only by gravity-force calculations. Either dark matter does not produce any electromagnetic radiation (as does all known matter), or it does not exist. One goal of the Hubble Space Telescope was to search for clues related to the possible existence of this dark matter.

Graphic by David Coppedge

In the 1960s, Vera Rubin and others, measuring rotation rates of spiral galaxies, found that these systems of billions of stars were rotating at such a high rate that the outer regions should have spun off into intergalactic space eons ago. The conclusion from this research was that since there was not enough matter in the galaxy to hold it together by gravity, the evidence supported the Dark Matter theory. They envisioned large haloes of invisible matter surrounding the Milky Way and other galaxies to account for the observed rotation curves.

Dwarf galaxies are likewise estimated to possess large amounts of non-radiating mass in order to prevent being pulled apart by the force of their neighbors’ gravity. Additionally, some galaxies spin and orbit one another at speeds faster than the laws of physics, as currently understood, allow. Consequently, they thought, large amounts of invisible matter must exist to provide the extra gravity necessary to allow the observations, and theory, to work.

One theory hypothesizes that dark matter would create high density pockets and provide the seeds to begin the process of pulling this matter into clumps that later formed ordinary matter. This argument implies that dark matter is the same type of mass that makes up visible matter, but simply lacks energy.[10] Theoretically, dark matter cannot interact with regular matter except gravitationally. Yet we have no direct evidence of such matter, and its existence has been largely speculative since its inception.[11] Let’s look at some of the proposed candidate particles that might make up dark matter.

Is it Neutrinos?

A common candidate is the neutrino, specifically mu and tau neutrinos. These are known particles that lack electric charge, but some research indicates they have a small amount of mass.[12] If the mass of heavier neutrinos is large, as is now hypothesized, “there is enough missing mass to satisfy everybody.”[13] Although much or even most of the matter of the universe may consist of neutrinos, they are difficult to detect because they interact poorly with other kinds of matter. Allegedly, these cosmic “greased pigs” mostly travel through the Earth without interacting with the matter in it. Astrophysicists don’t understand, however, how they could accumulate in pockets of the universe around the galaxies to produce the gravity level required to hold galaxies together. Also, if they travel at the speed of light, as is currently believed, they must be massless. Thus, many cosmologists dismiss neutrinos as dark matter candidates.

Is It Axions?

Another theory proposes hypothetical particles, such as axions or photinos that serve as creators of mass. Neither of these theories currently enjoy empirical support.[14] Faber hypothesizes that dark matter consists of “two new particles, one massive, one light,” and a computer analysis of their interactions indicates that they can produce “clumping on a grand scale.” She has also concluded that all other dark matter candidates, including neutrinos, are inadequate and would not produce the required clumping for the planets and stars to form.[15]

Is It Hydrogen?

Yet another theory devised to explain the nature of missing mass proposes large amounts of ionized hydrogen widely distributed in the universe. Ultraviolet radiation from stars could provide the energy required to cause hydrogen ionization, but stars do not emit a sufficient level of energy to produce the ionized hydrogen level necessary to account for all of the missing mass. Another source of energy, the Lyman-alpha radiation emitted by galactic pulsars, is also insufficient to fully explain the phenomena observed.[16]

Is It Photons?

Others have hypothesized that dark matter spontaneously decays, emitting ultraviolet photons. More recent research, though, has questioned a number of the basic assumptions involved in this theorizing. Efforts to detect dark matter by evaluating its gravitational pull are now under way. Some argue that the structures discovered in the past decade are so massive that even the cold dark matter theory cannot adequately account for their formation.

Is It Gamma Rays?

The Gamma Ray Observatory and the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Satellites, and the Space Infrared Telescope Facility launched about a year later, were both designed to study the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Gamma rays are of special interest because these photons possess energy levels millions or billions times greater than that of visible light photons, which have energies of only a few electron volts. The massive bursts were similar to those released during the explosion of atomic bombs, but they did not correspond to any then-known bomb pattern. These brief bursters (a phase that physically describes their action, and is now used as a noun to label them) last from a fraction of a second to about one hundred seconds. Research on gamma rays may also tell us much about neutron stars, black holes, and supernovas as well as shed light on contemporary theories of the universe’s origin.

Energetic sources emit gamma rays

Since their discovery in 1957, cosmic gamma rays have been difficult to study because those that reach the Earth tend to be weak and their number irregular. This is both because of the great distance the Earth is from their hypothetical source, and because the atmosphere tends to effectively block transmission of most shorter gamma rays. An advantage of this candidate is that gamma rays are uncharged. Consequently, they are not affected by the charged particles in space.

The major impediment to studying gamma rays is that our atmosphere shields the Earth from most gamma ray radiation. This filter, although extremely fortunate for life on Earth because gamma radiation is carcinogenic, precludes the study of gamma rays from the land surface. A gamma ray observatory satellite is for this reason a powerful tool to probe gamma radiation in outer space.[17]

The Promise of WIMPs Fails

The most viable theory for years was that Dark Matter consists of weak interacting massive particles (WIMPs). These hypothetical particles were supposed to be left over from the early Big Bang. Hypothesized as centers of gravity, they would be able to accumulate matter. Big-bang theorists predicted that WIMPs would affect the universe in such a way as to cause fewer, larger elliptical galaxies and galactic clusters to exist in the near future than exist today. Once again, though, the theoretical WIMPs have never been directly observed. Hooper wrote in their last obituary,

A decade or more ago, many physicists, including me, thought we knew what dark matter was likely to consist of: weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs … the longer we go without directly detecting WIMPs, the more we are forced to confront the uncomfortable possibility that they might not be there. And yet dark matter must exist – alternative explanations, such as modifying gravity to produce the same sort of effects, don’t seem to work … If not WIMPs, then what?[18]

Dark Matter Remains Lost

In short, research thus far has not produced the evidence required to support the Dark Matter theory, and with it, the Big Bang. Saunders et al. even conclude that Dark Matter theory can now be ruled out at the 97 percent confidence level.[19] So “If not WIMPs, then what?”[20] Scientists have no answer still, but cannot give up. It’s essential to support their materialistic worldview. And so they will continue, with costly instruments paid for by taxpayers, to stare at nothing.

References

[1] New Scientist, Issue 3256. November 16-22, 2019.

[2] Hooper, Dan. 2019. “What is Dark Matter?” New Scientist, Issue 3256, p. 34. Online copy: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24432560-600-why-dark-matters-no-show-could-mean-a-big-bang-rethink

[3] Wolchover, Natalie. 2017. “Deathblow Dealt to Dark Matter Disks.” Quanta Magazine, November 17. https://www.quantamagazine.org/deathblow-dealt-to-dark-matter-disks-20171117/ emphasis added.

[4] Ref. 3.

[5] Davis, M., et al. 1992. “The end of cold dark matter?” Nature, 356:489-494, April 9.

[6] Lemonick, Michael. 1993. The Light at the End of the Universe.  New York, NY: Villard Books.

[7]  Hooper, 2009, p. 36.

Bergman’s book about Darwin is a page-turner.

[8] The cold-dark-matter theory has been proposed to help explain some of the Big Bang cosmology difficulties and certain other cosmological incongruities.

[9] Ref. 1.

[10] Ref 2, p. 34.

[11] Davis, M., et al. 1992. “The end of cold dark matter?” Nature, 356:489-494, April 9.

[12] Gribbon, John. 1991.“Recreating the Birth of the Universe.” New Scientist, 131(1782):31-34, August 17.                

[13] Maddox, 1990, p. 579.

[14] Maddox, John. 1990. “Making the Universe Hang Together.” Nature, 348:579, December 13.

[15] Faber, Sandra. 1990. Interview. OMNI, 23:62-64, 88-92, July, p. 64.

[16]  Webb, John K. 1989.“A walk in the Lyman-alpha forest.” Nature, 338(6217):620-622, April 20.

[17] Begley, Sharon. 1990. John McCormick and Daniel Glick. “The heavens are holey.” Newsweek, pp. 60-61, April 30. [Who exactly is/are the author(s)?]

[18] Ref. 2, p. 36.

[19] Saunders, Will, et at. 1991. “The density field of the local Universe.” Nature, 349:32-38, January 3;Lindley, David. 1991.“Cold dark matter makes an exit.” Nature, 349(6304):14, January 3; Davis, M., et al. 1992. “The end of cold dark matter?” Nature, 356:489-494, April 9.

[20] Sanders, Ref. 19.


Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology at several colleges and universities including for over 40 years at Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored, are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

 

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Comments

  • webweb says:

    Col 1:16-18 All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Consist, are held together, what they say dark matter does is in truth what Jesus does in that He is holding together His creation. It is dark matter to them only because they do not know the Lord.

  • Roy_Lofquist says:

    Dear Dr. Bergman,

    You mentioned the works of Fritz Zwicky. I am sure that you are aware that when the meaning of the Hubble Red Shift was debated in the 1930s that Zwicky advanced the idea that rather than a Doppler shift due to expansion of the universe the shift was due to “tired light” caused by the great distances involved. The idea was rejected on the basis that since the interstellar medium was a vacuum that there was nothing to impede the light rays.

    The later discovery and study of pulsars seem to support Zwicky’s theory. In the radio astronomy of the leading edge of the pulse of a pulsar it was discovered that shorter wavelengths arrive before longer wavelengths. This is what you would expect if the medium was not a vacuum but rather something else whose index of refraction were greater than unity. If this is the case then the universe is not expanding but rather static, steady state.

    • Thank you for your insightful feedback!! Yes. I am aware of the tired light theory and the theory that what we assume was close to a vacuum was actually a medium with an index of refraction greater than unity. We are talking many billions of miles of space and even close to a perfect vacuum can produce a significant effect at this distance. I thought Joao Maguijo had some good arguments, but as far as I am aware they never went anywhere beyond his book Faster than the Speed of light. Your comments deserve another paper! I have always wanted to look into the tired light theory in more detail and maybe in the future I will have an opportunity. I am always rewarded when persons raise some thoughtful issues in response to my writing. Please keep on prodding us to think about these issues.
      Dr Jerry Bergman

  • tlewis3348 says:

    I greatly appreciate the good description of all the solutions secular scientists have provided. However, the article makes it clear that there are two motivations at play in the search for dark matter: the need to support the Big Bang and the need to explain the motions of matter at the scale of galaxies and above. Therefore, eliminating the need to support the Big Bang removes one of those motivations, but it does not remove the other. Therefore, it would seem to me that before creationists can truly declare victory, we need to provide an explanation for the motions of matter at the scale of galaxies and above. Since we have the most accurate understanding of reality, it would seem that creationists are in the best position to discover the solution first, but most of what I’ve seen from creationists tries to paint the entire thing as rescue device for the Big Bang and denying that there is any problem there for creationists to solve at all.

  • Ben Keshet says:

    “[I]t would seem to me that before creationists can truly declare victory, we need to provide an explanation for the motions of matter at the scale of galaxies and above. Since we have the most accurate understanding of reality, it would seem that creationists are in the best position to discover the solution first, but most of what I’ve seen from creationists tries to paint the entire thing as rescue device for the Big Bang and denying that there is any problem there for creationists to solve at all.”

    This comment reflects what I’ve been thinking for a while as well. Creationism must critique materialist approaches that fail to explain what we observe around us, but at the same time we creationists ought to provide as much of a scientific explanation for what we see in the universe around us as is possible, using our biblical principles appropriately.

    If we posit “For in him [the Creator] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), then all that is created, including galaxies, would evidently be sustained by the Almighty as well. Creationists agree that the Almighty is glad to reveal what has not yet been known about the world around us, as it reveals his great creative wisdom and power.

    Since the search goes on for some standard modelish type particle to provide missing mass, which has not been found, then perhaps there is reason to propose that the planck length is not a final barrier to sub-atomic physics. The planck length is definitely a boundary, but perhaps there is evidence that intelligently directed power can operate from below the planck length, up through and into our “standard model” world of fields and particles in the “created world” that we are more familiar with.

    Regardless, “neener, neener” responses to failed materialistic propositions do not seem productive to me.

    • Tlewis and Ben: Thank you for your comments. There are creation astronomers who do just that: model the universe from a creation perspective and deal with questions that arise. Creation journals have been publishing such models for decades. The point of this entry, however, was more philosophical. People need to realize that materialist astronomers are invoking occult forces to fit observations to assumptions, and spending a lot of money looking for apparently nothing. When their model requires that 95% of reality consists of mysterious, unknown stuff, something seems drastically wrong. It’s fair to point that out.

      As for galaxy motions, the problem only obtains for those who assume billions of years. As for Planck lengths, take your model and test it; but first ask if mass is really missing to begin with. If the assumptions are wrong, the model will be wrong.

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