Friday, April 5, 2013

A Glimmer of Light Shed on Dark Matter?

Perhaps the most exciting news this week was the detection of a plethora of positrons in the cosmic ray flux that may be due to the annihilation of dark matter. The positrons (the antimatter equivalent of the humble electron) were detected in the particle streams of the cosmic rays by the international Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer installed on the International Space Station.

In January, I attended a lecture on dark matter, which I posted a recap of. Dark matter is "adjacent" to regular matter, but only interacts with it gravitationally- it is not detectable on the electromagnetic spectrum. There are some theoretical models for dark matter, using such whimsical terms as WIMPs and MACHOs and axions, but nothing substantial is known about the nature of dark matter. Hopefully, the discovery of a stream of positrons amid the general particle flow of the universe represents a glimmer of light shed on dark matter. If this heralds a New Dark Age (hat tip to Smut Clyde, it will be a glorious one.

Postscript: While these results from the International Space Station and CERN represent the best of humanity, international cooperation in the name of scientific inquiry and the furtherance of human knowledge, I have a sinking feeling that more money will be spent dealing with the bellicose posturing of a schlubby schmuck with a bad haircut than was spent on this project.

8 comments:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I have a sinking feeling that more money will be spent dealing with the bellicose posturing of a schlubby schmuck with a bad haircut than was spent on this project.

More guns, less butter.
~

mikey said...

Since it seems very unlikely (to me, anyway) that dark matter is non-baryonic, I think this is kind of a backward support for SUSY. When they restart the LHC at the higher energy levels, I think we might begin to see some of the Super Symmetric Particles that would start to explain the universe in greater detail. More challenging is trying to explain dark energy, since in our current models it would need a gauge boson as a force carrier and we think we have identified them. So we'll see.

Meanwhile, as I always feel compelled to point out in these discussions, string theory is not science - it makes no testable predictions and cannot be falsified - but rather a set of elegant theoretical mathematics that has no application in physics whatsoever...

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Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

More guns, less butter.

WTF, BHO?

Since it seems very unlikely (to me, anyway) that dark matter is non-baryonic, I think this is kind of a backward support for SUSY. When they restart the LHC at the higher energy levels, I think we might begin to see some of the Super Symmetric Particles that would start to explain the universe in greater detail

Yeah, it's pretty mind-boggling to think that there's almost another "universe" occupying the same space as the visible one.

Meanwhile, as I always feel compelled to point out in these discussions, string theory is not science - it makes no testable predictions and cannot be falsified - but rather a set of elegant theoretical mathematics that has no application in physics whatsoever...

Yeah, string theory proponents should basically keep to themselves until they discover something of importance.

Another Kiwi said...

AFAF, is the other universe all opposite to this one? Cos some upsidedownie heads will esplode.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

AFAF, is the other universe all opposite to this one? Cos some upsidedownie heads will esplode.

Nah, they just forgot to pay the electric bill.

B. Spencer said...

zomg. In 2 minutes, I could tell this movie is right up my alley. There's nothing I don't love about it: The father who must have been 5 when he had Jack Palance, the mullet, the disco-gold walls. Holy lord, I may have to watch this, B4. Damn you, when am I going to find the time?