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A visualization of particles jets in the CMS. Yellow is the path of the particles, while blue and red represent energy detected from the particles.  (Source: CERN/Imperial College of London)
Discovery of dark matter's behavior would solve many outstanding mysteries in physics

Dark matter makes up five times more of the universe's mass than visible matter (~25% vs ~5%), yet scientists have yet to directly observe this ultra-abundant substance.  Scientists also have yet to observe dark energy, which may well beat out normal energy in universal abundance.  This lack of direct observations means that scientists know precious little about two of the most important physical components of our universe.

That could soon change.  CERN's Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile long circular underground track that is chilled to almost zero degrees Kelvin, is recording incredibly violent collisions, the likes of which haven't been seen since billions of years ago.  Those collisions will likely produce exotic substances like dark matter, which will be analyzed by the LHC's instruments, unlocking long debated mysteries of physics.

Scientists think they are making progress in the hunt for the SUSY – also known as supersymmetric particle, or 'sparticle'.  Scientists believe the sparticle may be the mysterious dark matter, given its theoretical stability.

In order to detect sparticles, scientists must probe the matter resulting from the collision for the absence of energy and momenta signals -- the sign that a sparticle was produced, rather than a standard particle.  This lack of energetic emissivity is the reason why dark matter is dark -- it does not transfer energy to photons, like standard particles.

More specifically, the researchers are trying to detect a "jet" of particles traveling in the same direction, post proton-beam collision, that lack a significant amount of detected energy and momentum.  

Professor Oliver Buchmueller [profile], a faculty member at the Department of Physics at Imperial College London who is doing research at CERN, describes the LHC team's findings, stating [press release], "We need a good understanding of the ordinary collisions so that we can recognise the unusual ones when they happen. Such collisions are rare but can be produced by known physics. We examined some 3-trillion proton-proton collisions and found 13 'SUSY-like' ones, around the number that we expected. Although no evidence for sparticles was found, this measurement narrows down the area for the search for dark matter significantly."

The CMS (compact muon solenoid) detector was co-designed by faculty at the Imperial College, one of Europe's best physics schools.  

Professor Geoff Hall [profile], another Imperial College physics faculty member working at CERN, describes the recent detection of "SUSY-like" streams of particles, stating, "We have made an important step forward in the hunt for dark matter, although no discovery has yet been made. These results have come faster than we expected because the LHC and CMS ran better last year than we dared hope and we are now very optimistic about the prospects of pinning down Supersymmetry in the next few years."

Later this year, physicists will run more trials, which they hope will verify the existence of dark matter in the stream.  They also hope that the theory of supersymmetry will be verified as an accurate description of dark matter, allowing the Standard Model of particle physics to be officially extended.

Looking ahead there's also much hope that the higher-energy collisions might yield a legendary Higgs boson, which would offer much more insight into the behavior of the universe.  The LHC's other major detector -- ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) -- was designed to search for the Higgs boson.

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Here We Go Again
By ResStellarum on 2/2/2011 9:56:39 AM , Rating: 3
Let's take a look at why the ideas of Dark Matter and Dark Energy were created shall we? Physicists could not explain neither the rotational speeds of galaxies, nor the expansion velocity of the universe, so Dark xyz was thought up to plug the leak of uncertainty. Similar to the way mathematicians balance an equation with a constant, for example Isaac Newton's theory of gravitation, and Einstein's theory of relativity, which share a common gravitational constant G. Unfortunately, even when the maths appear to be correct (with the help of convenient constants), the reality is it can be quite wrong, as was proven of Newton's theory. No doubt in time, Einstein's, and others will be proven incorrect too.

This leads us back to Dark Matter/Energy, yet another fabricated constant that conveniently balances the maths, but bears no resemblance to reality, that is, it cannot be found, nor detected. That's not to say it can't exist, but that it's highly improbable, and it's vastly more likely that physics is one bad theory atop another, a la a house of cards.

RE: Here We Go Again
By JediJeb on 2/2/2011 12:07:50 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking along these lines a while back, concerning the idea of Expansion. We conclude that the universe is expanding, and with recently determined values of the Hubble constant that it will expand forever. We also determine the distances to far off galaxies by their redshift in that the more red shifted they are the farther away they are. This is because the faster they are moving away the more red shifted they will be. But that would mean that galaxies were moving away from us faster billions of years ago than they were millions of years ago because galaxies that are only millions of light years distant are less redshifted. Would that not imply the opposite of the expansion belief, in that the speed at which galaxies are moving away has slowed over time, not sped up? If the expansion is speeding up then the farther away galaxies should be less redshifted and not more, since what we are seeing is not what is happening now but what happened in the far past. How can we base what is happening now on 10 billion year old data?

Dark matter can be effected by the same observations, we are using billion year old data to describe what is happening now. Do the models account for the temporal gradient in the data as data points taken from different observations not only differ in their x,y,z coordinates but also in time coordinates? Imagine if you had a field that was one light year across yet experienced changes in season the same as we see here in a year cycle. Your instantaneous view of that field would show parts of it as it appeared in spring, summer, fall and winter all at once. Without compensating for that temporal variation you would assume that the field existed in different forms of seeds sprouting, growing, maturing, and dying all at once then in reality they did not.

Just something I have wondered about.

RE: Here We Go Again
By Laereom on 2/2/2011 9:25:02 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah...dude, dark matter hasn't been directly observed, but it makes a LOT of sense.

Why should all matter be intrinsically linked with some electromagnetic charge to make itself observable on the EM spectrum? We know for a fact, for instance, that free neutrons exist -- we can't directly observe them but they are, in fact, a form of dark matter.

SOME of it indisputably exists. The real questions are, what are the properties that change vs visible matter?

RE: Here We Go Again
By ResStellarum on 2/8/2011 6:22:26 AM , Rating: 2
Actually it doesn't make a lot of sense. Lets apply Occam's Razor to this problem shall we? Is it more likely that an immeasurable, invisible, undetectable force, that constitutes the majority of the universe exists, or that our theories of gravitation are inadequate? The simplest answer is usually the correct one. I know I'm applying odds to a fact based subject, but the truth is, that's what theories are. I'm also aware that gravitation itself fits the first clause of my argument, and of course that is my intention, that is, to declare the force of gravitation as the real dark energy/matter, because it too has yet to be discovered and understood.

RE: Here We Go Again
By SPOOFE on 2/3/2011 1:42:49 AM , Rating: 3
Let's take a look at why the ideas of Dark Matter and Dark Energy were created shall we?

Observations were made that didn't coincide with known facets about the universe, meaning that there was something that we didn't know.

so Dark xyz was thought up to plug the leak of uncertainty

More accurately, to give a NAME to the uncertainty. It's not exactly new; it's been, what sixty years since dark matter was proposed? And under that time, scientists have been doing... what? Sitting around and twiddling their thumbs? Or rigorously testing the hypothesis and finding favorable, though not conclusive, evidence?

as was proven of Newton's theory.

Incorrect. Newton's maths still function quite well on the scales they were initially derived. They fall apart at the quantum level and at the incredibly huge level, where relativistic effects are far more important to the outcome of an equation.

This leads us back to Dark Matter/Energy, yet another fabricated constant that conveniently balances the maths

Yes, "fabricated", despite the fact that the numbers for claims about dark matter are derived from a humongous number of observations and calculations and experiments; nah, scientists didn't actually do any of that, they just made stuff up.

, it cannot be found, nor detected.

Sure it can. It's just not easy. Look up neutrino detectors and the ridiculous extent necessary to find just one of 'em.

RE: Here We Go Again
By kingius on 2/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: Here We Go Again
By FaaR on 2/7/2011 6:37:53 PM , Rating: 1
Oh please, spare us the tired old conspiracy claptrap routine.

Science is the reason you're even able to spout your bollocks worldwide from across the internet in the first place; you can ponder that little tidbit as you also consider what your life would have been if we'd still been stuck in a pre-renaissance existence.

You owe fucking EVERYTHING to science. Without it you wouldn't even be alive. So show some respect, thank you, instead of trying to portray scientists as scammers and con artists.

RE: Here We Go Again
By FaaR on 2/7/2011 6:33:20 PM , Rating: 2
Relativity HAS been proven, in several ways. It's not just a theoretical concept that happen to fit the facts as we know them, but will fall apart some time in the future.

Gravitational lensing and the need to account for relativistic effects in the GPS system are just two such examples.

RE: Here We Go Again
By ResStellarum on 2/8/2011 7:54:24 AM , Rating: 2
No it hasn't. It's not called The Theory of Relativity for nothing. It also has several problems. It can't explain what happens in the centre of a galaxy (super massive blackholes), nor can it explain the rotational or expansion speeds of galaxies. If you look at in detail, virtually every major theory in physics concerning the universe has problems. The problem stems from our inadequate understanding of gravity. I have no doubt that Dark Matter/Energy will eventually be disproven and that our description of gravity is wrong. That is the cause of the incongruities we see today in galaxy rotational speeds and the expansion rate of the universe (well the part we can see anyway).

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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