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Modified Gravity vs Particle Dark Matter. The Plot Thickens.

31 Oct 2016, 09:09 UTC
Modified Gravity vs Particle Dark Matter. The Plot Thickens.
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They sit in caves, deep underground. Surrounded by lead, protected from noise, shielded from the warmth of the Sun, they wait. They wait for weakly interacting massive particles, short WIMPs, the elusive stuff that many physicists believe makes up 80% of the matter in the universe. They have been waiting for 30 years, but the detectors haven’t caught a single WIMP. Even though the sensitivity of dark matter detectors has improved by more than five orders of magnitude since the early 1980s, all results so far are compatible with zero events. The searches for axions, another popular dark matter candidate, haven’t fared any better. Coming generations of dark matter experiments will cross into the regime where the neutrino background becomes comparable to the expected signal. But, as a colleague recently pointed out to me, this merely means that the experimentalists have to understand the background better. Maybe in 100 years they’ll still sit in caves, deep underground. And wait.Meanwhile others are running out of patience. Particle dark matter is a great explanation for all the cosmological observations that general relativity sourced by normal matter cannot explain. But maybe it isn’t right after all. The alternative to using general relativity and ...

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