14 February 2012

New Scientist: “Dark matter mysteries: a true game of shadows”

Because dark atoms would emit or absorb dark photons, the universe might be full of invisible, dark light that constantly interacts with clouds of dark atoms, raising their temperature and puffing them up.

This sounds like something right out of an alchemy manual from the Middle Ages. Just as before, there is not enough experimental data available to draw solid, verifiable conclusions. Hopefully in a couple of decades we will be able to look back to these speculations as condescendingly as we do now towards alchemy. Otherwise cosmology and particle physics will be in a very tough spot.

"This is like the story of the elephant," says Feng, referring to the Indian parable in which a group of blind men all touch a different part of an elephant and then compare notes to try to work out what the beast looks like. "We are all touching a different bit of the dark matter. Hopefully, at some stage, we'll be able to put them all together in the right way and discover what it looks like." Stuart Clark

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