Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Emotional about dark matter

Dark matter has become a subject of heated debates. There is very heavy tendecy to believe on existence of dark matter in the standard sense, that is dark matter appearing as a spherical halos around galaxies. This belief is now challeged by experimental facts.

  1. Indications for new particles such as that found by Fermi is automatically interpreted as indications for dark matter. This is strange and based only on the belief that the main stream view is correct. The signals could be real but need not have anything to do with galactic dark matter halo.

    Here the situation resembles that for Higgs. Despite the fact that the decay signatures of the bump differ from those for standard model Higgs, Nobel prizes have been already shared by some bloggers for the discovery of Higgs.

  2. Dark matter is automatically identified as spherical halo of galactic dark matter. There are actually three quite recent observations challenging the existence of this halo. One of the observations led to the claim that the environment of solar system does not contain dark matter as part of galactic halo as it should do. As Resonaances tells, this claim was challenged by another group arguing that a change of the model for velocity distributions of stars allows to get the dark matter there. Non-specialist cannot say anything about this. But again Lubos made without hesitation the conclusion, which fits with his beliefs and wishes: the problem is settled, dark matter halo is there.

  3. This tendency to draw very rapid conclusions looks strange in the light of the fact that there are two other observations challenging the dark matter halo (see this and also the earlier posting). About these findings neither Resonances, Lubos, nor Sean Carroll say nothing.

    Sean also wonders why people get so emotional about dark matter. My guess is that possible end for funding makes anyone emotional;-). We still remember how bitter the fight to save the status of string theory as the only possible theory of everything was. It is now over: no string theorists have been hired during this year as Peter Woit reports but still some true believers are raging.

If you were not born yesterday, it might occur to you that galactic dark matter halos define one of the basic assumptions of - I dare guess all - recent models of cosmology receiving funding. The incorrectness of this assumption would mean a catastrophic re-distribution of funding. Researchers meet a painful moral challenge: facts or funding? It is certainly always possible to play with parameters to get rid of experimental findings which do not fit the paradigm.

Personally I want to keep my mind open. It is easy to be honest, when one has nothing to lose anymore! TGD based explanation for the velocity distribution of distant stars around galaxy relies on magnetic flux tubes carrying dark matter having galaxies around them like pearls in necklace. No halo is needed to explain the velocity spectrum and the prediction is free motion of galaxies along the flux tubes. TGD predicts also dark matter as a hierarchy of phases with non-standard value of Planck constant. The guess is that there contribution to the mass density is small as also gravitational effects but this is just a guess.

Theoretical particle physics has been in a state of stagnation for four decades. This is a statement which I read more and more often in physics blogs. The statement is true. My conviction is that things went wrong when GUTs became the paradigm. To my view already standard model is partially wrong: color is not spin-like quantum number at fundamental level although it is so in an excellent approximation. And there are indeed experimental anomalies supporting the new view about color. Whether Higgs is there or not will be seen in near future. TGD prediction is that Higgs is effectively replaced by entire scaled up variant of hadron physics.

After GUTS came SUSY and then string models became the paradigm. Strings theory period is over, and SUSY in standard sense fighting desperately for survival. Also dark matter halo is getting thinner and thinner!

What about GUTS? Is the GUT paradigm the one that goes next? For instance, Nima Arkani-Hamed has talked about return to roots. The basic prediction of GUTS is the instability of proton to particular kind of decays. Nothing has been detected despite continual efforts but this fact has gone un-noticed. It does not require too much cynicism to understand the reluctance to notice the obvious. If proton is stable, practically 40 years of particle physics theory comes stumbling down. This would have really tragic implications for funding!

Addition:Lubos has become even more emotional about dark matter. Lubos refuses to consider any other than the standard view about dark matter and sees different views as a denial of dark matter. There are now three experiments suggesting strongly that galactic dark matter does not form a spherical halo around the galaxy. As mentioned, Lubos is completely silent about two of these experiments: this kind of intellectual in-honesty is part - maybe even unconscious part - of the psychology of denial.

As explained, TGD allows to understand the existing findings: in this model dark matter is carried by string like objects defined by magnetic flux tubes - stringlike objects albeit not fundamental strings. Just by getting rid of the obsession of fundamental strings and replacing them with 3-D objects one would obtain a theory that works, and predicts that the Universe is filled with string like objects having a concrete physical interpretation whereas the strings of string models have no physical counterparts! How simple but how difficult to accept! If Witten had discovered TGD it would have been for decades the theory of everything:-).

Addition: An interesting new twist in the fight for the survival of galactic dark matter halos has emerged. Recall that Bidin, Carraro, and Mendez claimed that the upper bound for the density of dark matter in the nearby environment of Sun is considerably ower than predicted by the galactic halo model. Then Bovy and Tremain stated that the analysis contains error and that their own analysis gives the value of dark matter density predicted by the halo model. Lubos declared with necessary ad hominems that the situation settled: galactic halo is there just as high priests of theoretical physics have decided. Now Hontas Farmer wrote an interesting informal article claiming that the argument of Bovy and Tremain contains a logical error: the predicted density appears as input! Warmly recommended: at least I regard real analysis as more interesting that fanatic claims peppered by ad hominem insults.


At 9:44 AM, Blogger ThePeSla said...


In terms of mirrors and negative signs and all that- well, what we do not seem to understand in the particle community (my long dispute in fact to the stance of our humble correspondent)it the logic and structure of this mirroring of a vacuum. Alas, yesterday I saw a link to an article that suggests there can be entities that are both matter and antimatter (sorry, I lost the link, newscientist I think.)

This sort of logic which seems to let us ask questions like the nature of the stability of the proton as in your analysis certainly seems a case to sort out.

Such odd logic, which seems to me a step up from quantum logic has become a real issue dawning on the community. Such is the odd debates on what or where is dark matter.

Particle physics itself will not come tumbling down (if we knew why that would be a breakthrough) but our unstable theories may do so as solid or incomplete. In any case if we are human as well as objective in the quest of science it is not a failure that should cause us to deny funding.

Whatever the current conclusions, from our view point this does not change with the whims of theorists if we have some sense of a greater unity to it all.

The Pe Sla

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Ulla said...

Which of our basic physical assumptions are wrong?

This must suit you perfectly!

At 7:06 PM, Anonymous said...

The basic question of fQXI contest is to the point. I hope that this reflects more general awareness that something is badly wrong with the basic assumptions of the theoretical particle physics.

I have once participated the contest: the nature of time was the topic. I learned that the same old names decide about what is good and what is not so that participating would be waste of time.

The problem is that to become a professor one must be a student of professor, and one can become a student only if one accepts the views of the professor. This allows to understand why GUT tradition has survived for four decades.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger hamed said...

yes, as i understand often those professors that are critical about the particle physics aren't particle physicist!
but about your professor when you wrote your thesis, why didn't you choose a good professor for the thesis?! or maybe you thought that he was a good! i can be only hope that it will not occur for me ;)

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous said...

I did not have any supervisor for my thesis. I got the basic idea towards end of 1977. I went to talk to the leader of the "Institute of theoretical physics" (word-to-word translation) and was kicked out from my job within few weeks.

It took about 4 years to write the thesis. I did it in a kind of "unemployment job" at Helsinki University of Technology (I am grateful for the open mindedness of decision makers involved: nowadays this kind of hidden research would be hardly possible).

I came with the written thesis published in Journal of Theoretical Physics and with the statement of J. A. Wheeler saying that the work was brilliant. At that time I did not realize that Wheeler's statement would have been worth of gold and I could have used it to get financial support.

Wheeler's statement was probably the reason that forced them to request two theoretical physicists from out-broad to tell their opinion. The first one said the the work was brilliant, second one that it was completely worthless. The work was accepted and they had to find a supervisor. The professor who had kicked me out was the choice and he got additional item to this curriculum vitae.

Later he did his best to prevent me to get any funding for my research and indeed managed excellently.

About ten years later I applied for a docenture after I had written the first book summarizing TGD. Two young finnish professors, who had got just their positions (second of them with the support of theoretical physicist community since at the first trial it was another mathematician who was chosen to the job!) made a statement about my work. According to them the whole work failed to satisfy any imaginable criterion for what it is to be a scientific work. Perhaps one need not to be too cynical to ask whether so called Dear Brother Network so central in finnish society had been functioning.

Amusingly, at that time also the statement of Wheeler about my work as well as documents relating to the docenture episode disappeared mysteriously from my office. Probably those responsible for the miracle were afraid that I could make them public. I left Helsinki university since the place made me vomit.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger hamed said...

You was in very tragic years:(. i am very hopping in future for you, at least you will get nobel price:). although a nobel price is not enough for your work! Maybe for a physicist that lives alone is very hard to have patient, but when i read biography of big scientist, having patient was very efficient for them.

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous said...

I have lived a hard life: eventually the worst enemies are mental images created by the experience of inequity. This creates negative mental images: hatred, bitterness, negative mental l images about those who have mistreated you.

These mental images are part of my body and I cannot avoid of thinking negative thoughts about them. Mental images fighting with mental images inside me, also mental image but that of higher level self (I cannot avoid bringing in TGD inspired theory of consciousness;-))! I suffer even additional violence. A devilish viscious circle.

If TGD were correct, I would certainly deserve nobel. But testing of theory like TGD takes at least one century even after it is taken seriously. I should live at least 200 years old;-). Medicine develops remarkably fast but I am aging much faster;-). And colleagues think remarkably slowly;-).

At 11:14 PM, Blogger Ulla said...

"These mental images are part of my body and I cannot avoid of thinking negative thoughts about them. Mental images fighting with mental images inside me, also mental image but that of higher level self (I cannot avoid bringing in TGD inspired theory of consciousness;-))! I suffer even additional violence."

I think you are to hard to yourself, and I hope I am not among those additional circles. One of the hardest lessons in life is to forgive oneself, much harder than to forgive others. What could you possibly have done? Honestly?

I can only speak of own experience. I was a child with imagination, and I was severly punished for that. I learned I was only worth of punishment, and the worst is that I learned to punish myself, which led to a strong circle of pain. Only when I managed to see this, and to forgive myself for being a child :-) (yes, this sounds as crazy as it is, I have seen this same pattern so many times in others too) then I slowly got better.

Forgiving is to let those negative images belong to the past and no longer identify yourself with them. In the Bible it is said that you should cut off your arm if it bothers you. The arm is not you. Leave it. As you did.

I know there are other, better images with you too. Don't be so hard against yourself.


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