Physicists once again fail to detect dark matter


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The uncertainty of science: The most sensitive detector yet created by physicists has once again failed to detect dark matter, casting strong doubt on all present theories for its existence.

The latest results from an experiment called XENON1T at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, published on 30 October, continue a dry spell stretching back 30 years in the quest to nab dark-matter particles. An attempt by a Chinese team to detect the elusive stuff, the results of which were published on the same day, also came up empty-handed. Ongoing attempts by space-based telescopes, as well as at CERN, the European particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, have also not spotted any hints of dark-matter particles.

The findings have left researchers struggling for answers. “We do not understand how the Universe works at a deeper and more profound level than most of us care to admit,” says Stacy McGaugh, an astrophysicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

The process here has been a good demonstration of the scientific method. Observers detect a phenomenon that does not make sense, which in this case was that the outer regions of galaxies rotate so fast that they should fly apart. Theorists then come up with a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon, which here was dark matter, subatomic particles that have weight but do not generally interact with the rest of the universe except by their mass, which acts to hold the galaxies together. Observers than try to prove the hypothesis by finding these theorized particles.

When the particles are not found, the theorists begin to rethink their theories. Maybe dark matter does not exist. Maybe (as is mentioned near the end of the article) a rethinking of the nature of gravity itself might be necessary. Or possibly the unseen matter is not subatomic, but ordinary matter not yet detected.

If only the climate field would apply this basic scientific method to its work. There, scientists found that carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere. Some theorists posited an hypothesis that said that this increase might cause the climate to warm, and created numerous (almost a hundred) models to predict this warming. After more than thirty years, however, none of those models has successfully worked. The climate has not warmed as predicted, which suggests the hypothesis is flawed, and needs rethinking. Sadly, the leaders in the climate field refuse to do this rethinking. Instead, they appear willing to adjust and change their data to make it fit, sometimes in ways that are downright fraudulent.

This is not how science is done, and it is doing a terrible disservice to both science and society in general.

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25 comments

  • LocalFluff

    Not finding dark matter CONFIRMS its existence! If it had radiated anything measurable, it would not be dark anymore. It is a timespace effect, not “matter”. That is just a word used as a placeholder. Matter is observable, spacetime is not.

  • ken anthony

    I’m not sure scientists exist? You only need one piece of data to disprove a theory. Today we have ‘scientists’ claiming truths when they are fully aware of falsifications.

    What is the speed of gravity? It seems to be instant. The rubber sheet explanation is no explanation at all.

    I have no answer, but I recognize when others don’t either.

    Gravity appears to have no relation to a particle or a wave. It’s effects are not related to c.

  • Dick Eagleson

    The recent gravity wave detection results confirm both that gravity i>is a wave phenomenon and that it’s speed is the same as that of light, both predictions of Einstein’s.

  • ken anthony

    For that to be true Dick a very simple falsification has to be ignored. The orbit of planets is toward where the sun is (instant) not where the sun was more than 8 minutes ago.

  • wayne

    ken–
    The ‘rubber-sheet’ illustration is only a very loose analogy, and primarily an artifact of drawing on a 2-D plane. It’s not a “gravity-well” per se, it’s a “gravity-sphere.”

    Gravity is a continuous field, propagates at the speed of light, and warps the geometry of space-time in a spherical manner.

  • Edward

    ken anthony,
    You wrote: “For that to be true Dick a very simple falsification has to be ignored. The orbit of planets is toward where the sun is (instant) not where the sun was more than 8 minutes ago.

    I am missing your point.

    From a heliocentric reference frame, the two locations are the same, as the sun does not move in that reference frame. If you are using a geocentric reference frame, then you are probably messing up your dynamics model somewhere, which would be very easy to do, due to the complexity of the model.

    The gravity waves emanate from the sun in all directions, with a force that directs toward the sun. When the Earth moves eight minutes worth of distance (~10,000 miles), it is still pulled toward where the sun is now (instant). The gravity vector is the vector for “now,” not for eight minutes ago.

    Thus gravity works no matter how far away you are. That is why the Milky Way Galaxy and other galaxies are stable, despite their thousands-of-light-year diameters.

  • wayne

    “In Newtonian physics, each particle with mass responds instantaneously to every other particle with mass irrespective of the distance between them, and assumes the speed of gravity to be infinite. Newtonian gravitation is described by the Poisson equation, according to which, when the mass distribution of a system changes, its gravitational field instantaneously adjusts. Therefore, the theory assumes the speed of gravity to be infinite. This assumption was adequate to account for all phenomena within the observational accuracy of that time.”

    “Laplace assumed that when an object like the Earth is moving around the Sun, the attraction of the Earth would not be toward the instantaneous position of the Sun, but toward where the Sun had been if its position was retarded using the relative velocity.” “The attraction toward an object moving with a steady velocity however, is towards its instantaneous position with no delay, for both gravity and electric charge. In a field equation consistent with special relativity (i.e., a Lorentz invariant equation), the attraction between static charges moving with constant relative velocity, is always toward the instantaneous position of the charge (in this case, the “gravitational charge” of the Sun), not the time-retarded position of the Sun. When an object is moving in orbit at a steady speed but changing velocity v, the effect on the orbit is order v2/c2, and the effect preserves energy and angular momentum, so that orbits do not decay.”

    “The speed of gravitational waves in the General Theory is equal to the speed of light in a vacuum, c. Within the theory of Special Relativity, the constant c is not exclusively about light; instead it is the highest possible speed for any interaction in nature. Formally, c is a conversion factor for changing the unit of time to the unit of space.This makes it the only speed which does not depend either on the motion of an observer or a source of light and/or gravity. Thus, the speed of “light” is also the speed of gravitational waves and any massless particle.”

  • wayne

    Love me some good physics discussion!

    Edward–
    Well done.
    I envy that you can explain this so easily! I’ve been fumbling around for 15 minutes & had to resort to a sloppy disjointed, cut-n-paste job.
    (The orbital mechanics stuff, is still incredibly hard for me to visualize as well.)

    Ken– I think you are making the error that Laplace made. (but you’re in good company!)

    Hate to reference Wikipedia, but in this case they are largely correct:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_gravity

  • wayne

    “Gravitational Waves and Gamma-rays from a Binary Neutron Star Merger: GW170817 and GRB 170817A”
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.05834

    “On 2017 August 17, the gravitational-wave event GW170817 was observed by the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors, and the gamma-ray burst (GRB) GRB 170817A was observed independently by the Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor, and the Anticoincidence Shield for the Spectrometer for the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory. The probability of the near-simultaneous temporal and spatial observation of GRB 170817A and GW170817 occurring by chance is 5.0×10 −8 .
    We therefore confirm binary neutron star mergers as a progenitor of short GRBs. The association of GW170817 and GRB 170817A provides new insight into fundamental physics and the origin of short gamma-ray bursts.
    We use the observed time delay of (+1.74±0.05) s between GRB 170817A and GW170817 to: (i) constrain the difference between the speed of gravity and the speed of light to be between −3×10 −15 and +7×10 −16 times the speed of light, (ii) place new bounds on the violation of Lorentz invariance, (iii) present a new test of the equivalence principle by constraining the Shapiro delay between gravitational and electromagnetic radiation.”

  • m d mill

    Most elite physicists were accepting the dark matter hypothesis as a necessary truth long before there was any evidence (you can find many you tube lectures by prominent physicists). That is why they are so shocked by these results.

    IF gravity is an emergent property (not a fundamental force), then dark matter is not required.
    And the difficulty of uniting the weak gravitational fundamental force with the other strong fundamental forces ,i.e. the problem of uniting general relativity and quantum mechanics MAY not be required either.
    Which means string theory is not required.

    In fact string theorists have long touted that gravity, as a fundamental force, is an essential and completely consistent part of their theory. And they predict super symmetric particles must exist. But these particles have not been found in the super collider at energies where they should be seen.
    Which means string theory MAY be falsified on two fronts.

    Is it possible the best(?) and brightest minds in theoretical physics have been delusional for the last 30+ years.

  • wayne

    m d mill-
    You are definitely on to something!
    (ref; “…delusional for the last 30+ years.”)
    And unfortunately, it’s been pushed by the more “celebrity type” physicists.

    For Roger Penrose’s take on string-theory, highly recommend:
    (spoiler Alert: He’s not down with string-theory!)

    “Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe”
    Dr. Roger Penrose
    Royal Institution, March 2017
    https://youtu.be/iH4XJHJ8AOw
    (1:03:05)

  • wayne

    Fritz Zwicky:
    “The Father of Dark Matter” (clip)
    Professor Ian Morison, Gresham College 2015
    https://youtu.be/TV0c1EFIKy4
    2:54

  • Brian

    Bob in relation to the scientific method related to Climate change. I’ve been looking here in your blog for the last few days for a story on that government report that came out last week in the news that said climate change is real and humans were to blame for it, and what your thoughts and comments were on it. The chart in the USA today article about it showing the global average rise in temp seems completely off from what I’ve seen over the last few years,

  • Brian: That report is so political and unrelated to real science that I have decided to simply ignore it. I have better things to do with my time than point out another government climate report that skews the data badly to push a political agenda.

  • Brian

    Bob I understand that the report is bogus, but the propaganda is being put out there and I don’t mean you, but on a bigger scale no one seems to be challenging it, when does the truth come through.

  • ken anthony

    I certainly accept measurements that show gravity to be waves propagating at c. I simply don’t understand it.

    Assuming a two body system orbiting. Remove one body. The other body would move in a straight line, but when?

    Immediately or when the gravity wave (in this case, fails to get there.) If not instantly, you would not have stable orbits which is why they use the bogus rubber sheet analogy.

    I’m guessing a hole in my understanding. The ‘explanations’ linked to seem more like assertions than explanations. I’ve tried modeling, but don’t know how to apply continuous impulses. My calculus was in grade school over 40 years ago.

    Don’t feel the need to educate me (although I appreciate it.) My ship has sailed I believe.

  • ken anthony

    From a heliocentric reference frame, the two locations are the same, as the sun does not move in that reference frame.

    Absolutely true, however the instantaneous impulse does change. In other words, the position is the same, but the impulse vector is different. So add propagation (which may be represented by a rubber sheet except that analogy is static rather than dynamic which propagation would require.)

    The implication is even with a frozen position of the sun, you get different orbits. If propagation is not instant, the orbit spirals out (as if using discrete impulse which may or may not be related.)

    I probably should research Mercury’s orbit which may offer me some resolution to my confusion (and believe me I am confused.)

  • wayne

    ken–
    Do reference that Wikipedia link I noted above, (Speed of Gravity) and it will make a lot more sense. >follow the progression in thought from Newton to Laplace, to Einstein, and it will click. I think you’re at the Laplace point. (no offense, I’m just an amateur and you know more Math than I.)
    And yes– Mercury’s orbit is a key factoid. You need to apply a “relativity” correction-factor to the Newtonian calculations for the orbit to represent reality.

    “The attraction toward an object moving with a steady velocity is towards its instantaneous position with no delay, for both gravity and electric charge. In a field equation consistent with special relativity (i.e., a Lorentz invariant equation), the attraction between static charges moving with constant relative velocity, is always toward the instantaneous position of the charge (in this case, the “gravitational charge” of the Sun), not the time-retarded position of the Sun.”
    “When an object is moving in orbit at a steady speed but changing velocity v, the effect on the orbit is order v2/c2, and the effect preserves energy and angular momentum, so that orbits do not decay.”

  • ken anthony

    Thank-you Wayne, but I did read the link. I’m not offended at all, we always start at a place of ignorance. My reply to anyone that calls me ignorant will always be “of course, but not willfully.”

    I wish it would click, but haven’t reached the nugget required. I certainly believe that classical physics has been superseded by both relativity and quantum effects, but I suspect a lot of ‘scientists’ don’t actually understand it any more than I do.

    a steady velocity is the problem for me since there is no such thing outside of an idealized thought experiment. Even with the sun a fixed reference and dominating, minor perturbation should destabilize orbits unless it’s a field which waves at velocity c are not.

    I see a part of the potential problem when they talk about field equations which is not the same thing as a wave. Either a wave or a particle would have a propagation effect unlike a field which would have an instantaneous effect. Also some talk about gravity as not a fundamental force, but an emergent effect which would make it impossible to understand without the underlying facts. I’ve never seen an explanation of what causes the emergence.

    This sentence: “The attraction toward an object moving with a steady velocity is towards its instantaneous position with no delay, for both gravity and electric charge.” makes no sense unless talking about a field. So it confuses me when we talk about propagating waves?

    I feel really stupid right now because I really don’t know what I’m missing.

    I love Penrose, but I often have to replay parts to understand him and the cues are hard to spot (my eyes glazing over often come too late to be helpful. He’s a funny guy.)

  • ken anthony

    The only thing I know of that’s instantaneous over any distance is entangled particles, but I’ve never heard of that being a factor in gravity.

  • wayne

    ken–
    -If you enjoy Dr. Penrose, you are definitely an intelligent man! I never fail to pick up something knew, or understand something better, after re-watching his lectures. His Facebook page, of all things, has a lot of interesting links.
    (FYI- They (Oxford) just recently started an annual “Penrose Lecture,” and Stephen Hawking was the first honoree lecturer (on black holes), it’s very interesting, but exceedingly painfully slow to listen to Hawking.)

    Entanglement is a whole other subject and the phrase “spooky action at a distance” really confuses that topic.

    Maybe Edward or someone else can drop in on this again, I’m being a terrible Explainer myself this week and I think were mixing together some concepts.
    Still pondering your last comment; we are definitely co-mingling one or two key concepts together.

    “Gravity is a field which curves space-time.”

  • ken anthony

    “Gravity is a field which curves space-time.”

    I find myself accepting this on authority, which to me is the weakest form of evidence. For me there is a disconnect. I fully understand some aspects, but there are gaps in my understanding.

    I know I lack understanding, but I firmly believe that those that can’t explain it are admiring the emperors robes (meaning no insult, this is just human nature.)

    It all starts with measurements which I tend to trust. We know certain fundamentals which are undeniable (mass and distance directly relate to gravity.) But it gets fuzzy when we turn to mechanism. The rubber sheet analogy really doesn’t explain anything other than being suggestive of how fields differ from classical physics (F=MA where time is a big issue.) It’s much easier to understand a static model of a dynamic system, but that’s a bit like looking for your lost keys under a lamppost because the light is better than where you actually lost them.

    I’ve taken far too much space explaining my ignorance. However, exposing it seems my best hope of overcoming it. This is why I love the company of people smarter than I. The problem is to get beyond assertions. This is one of the things I really appreciate about Rand Simberg’s writings because he often does that and in a clear and direct way.

    It’s also easy enough to apply a formula which can be shown to perfectly match (or not) some measurements, but that isn’t an explanation either. I don’t understand why this isn’t obvious?

    When we do understand mechanism that should lead to amazing breakthrough results (not that current understandings aren’t amazing enough.)

  • wayne

    ken–
    Empathize greatly with your thoughts. (and my inability to clearly ‘explain this,’ with minimal verbiage, most probably illustrates the tenuous grip I myself, have on these Concepts.)

    I find myself, as well, accepting quite a bit of “all this,” as you note, on authority, but not entirely alone. There really is a bit of Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics.
    (And I try to be “fair” about it, ‘cuz a lot of Brand-Name Physicist’s truly rub me the wrong way, and/or have some inner political-agenda for which they blatantly shill.)

    I’d refer back to Edward’s comments on November 8 and hope he might weigh in on this again.

    At the risk of muddying up things further:
    “…static fields (either electric or gravitational) always point directly to the actual position of the bodies that they are connected to, without any delay that is due to any “signal” traveling (or propagating) from the charge, over a distance to an observer. This remains true if the charged bodies and their observers are made to “move” (or not), by simply changing reference frames. This fact sometimes causes confusion about the “speed” of such static fields, which sometimes appear to change infinitely quickly when the changes in the field are mere artifacts of the motion of the observer, or of observation.In such cases, nothing actually changes infinitely quickly, save the point of view of an observer of the field. For example, when an observer begins to move with respect to a static field that already extends over light years, it appears as though “immediately” the entire field, along with its source, has begun moving at the speed of the observer. This, of course, includes the extended parts of the field. However, this “change” in the apparent behavior of the field source, along with its distant field, does not represent any sort of propagation that is faster than light.”

  • David

    Mr. Zimmerman – Trying to do a bit of catch-up on the last couple of weeks & couldn’t help but notice a couple of things.

    First, your post & the subsequent discussion by folks on dark matter is very interesting and a fine example of why I was pleased to come across your site awhile back and usually enjoy stopping by when I can.

    However, to read your paragraph plus with your statement about climate research combined with your reply to Brian, I can’t help but wonder how receptive you actually are to research that doesn’t fit your existing paradigm. Like Brian, I was wondering if I’d come across a post covering the study’s release. Your reply contained a link to Real Science and a comment you’d totally disregarded the report for the strange reasons of being “political” and “unrelated to real science.” No link to NOAA, no links to a different reputable site with a different take, no indication if you had actually gone thru the complete report or contacted the study’s authors with questions.

    I apologize to you or any of your readers who might be annoyed with this writing, but I ‘m disappointed that you slam the whole field of thousands of scientists, researchers, etc. with a statement that is not based in truth and denotes a closed mind.

  • wayne

    David–
    I don’t speak for Mr. Z. but I am glad you like the cosmology/dark-matter/physics-related threads! They generally result in a lot of commentary.

    Referencing the ever contentious “climate-research;” check out Mr. Z’s climate & sun science bibliography: http://behindtheblack.com/climate-and-sun-science-bibliography/

    Personally, if these “climate science types,” told me that 2+2=4, I’d want to know what scam they were pulling on me. They have totally blown their credibility in my mind, and now every time they open their mouths it just reinforces to me, what absolute liar’s they ARE.

    – I’ve been listening to these ‘people’ since 1975, when it was the impending Ice-Age and every single drop of oil on Earth would be gone by the year 2000, and we couldn’t put up Christmas lights ‘cuz we had to “save the energy For The Children,” and associated rot.

    I even have a minor in environmental-studies, for whatever that is worth, (and boy did I have to keep my mouth shut to pass those classes)– pure political-agenda’s and less “science” than you get from any 100-level college class. (And that was 40 years ago, and they haven’t stopped lying since. Skilled & Professional Liars, but with the key word being “Liars.”)

    And to add insult to injury, they use the Federal & State Government to forcibly take my money to fund this crap-o-la, so They can have Tenure, nice houses & SUV’s, send Their children to nice Colleges, and live lives totally & absolutely immune from the consequences of their twisted ideology’s.
    >>””Climate Science,” Idea’s so Brilliant & Wonderful, they have to imposed by force.”

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