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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Is Dark Matter real or BS?

So I was reading this Ars Technica article on an experiment that is trying to detect particles of dark matter:
New Lux experiment: No dark matter in this corner

And I was reminded once again, that while I am a complete layman with only an intermittent popsci reading level at astrophysics and cosmology, dark matter and dark energy have always struck me as unlikely stuff made up to explain the discrepancy between data and the prevalent theory. Its undetectable stuff that we are told vastly outweighs the detectable stuff but it must be there or the equations don't come out right.

In the comments thread to that article there is one by a guy going by Bobson whose perception is like mine but more informed, responding to a similar comment by jfmiller28. He mentions rooting for the STVG theory that doesn't require dark matter and links to the Wikipedia article.

I'd never heard of STVG, so I follow the link off to the Wikipedia article, and scratch my head a bit at the discussion there. My first thought was"Okay, that's interesting but still confusing. Does somebody describe how would you go about testing it? Is it falsifiable or is it like String Theory that apparently is extremely difficult or impossible to test?" I was still curious so I did another Google search and came up with the Moffat  paper abstract on arXiv and this conference proceedings book in Google Books and start skimming, basically reading the layman-readable passages and skipping over the math. Apparently this was a gathering that was mostly attended by adherents of a new set of "relativistic" cosmological theories as opposed to the dominant ΛCDM model of cosmology.

Here's the gist I got from reading part of some of  papers from that book. Portions of ΛCDM are effectively based on simplifications that use Newtonian modeling of gravity and assumptions of uniformity of distribution of matter in the universe. ΛCDM needs there to be vast amounts of stuff we haven't found yet to make its math work out with observations. When you redo those parts with an Einsteinian relativity based gravity model and take into account the sponge-like structure to the distribution of galaxies in the universe and our measurements being done from one of the voids in that sponge, the fit to the data is much better. The dark matter and dark energy fudge factors drop out as unnecessary.

I'm not nearly qualified to judge this work on the details, but that description sure smells more right to me than dark energy and dark matter ever have. My gut says this will probably be one of those Kuhnian revolutions in science.

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