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An invisible substance permeates the universe, altering the paths of stars and galaxies.
Dark matter might be made up of weird half-magnets, theoretical physicists from the University of California, Davis, said at a presentation on June 6 at the Planck 2019 conference in Granada, Spain. And by turning on a really powerful (as-of-yet nonexistent) electron microscope, we might finally be able to detect them.
But not all physicists are convinced.
"I think it's neat, but not very promising," said Sabine Hossenfelder, a research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, who was not a part of the study. "There are infinitely many particles you can invent that may make up dark matter." This is just another one of them, she added.
Particles - Lots - Calculations - Papers - Experiments
"For each of these particles you can do lots of calculations, publish papers and think up experiments, which you can then try to get funding for," she said. "If you are really lucky, someone will do your experiment — which will then not find anything."
Though theories predict dark matter exists, we have no idea really what it looks like or what it's made of. For a while, there was "a beautiful story" that dark matter was made up of a lumbering, shy beast of a particle known as a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle, or WIMP, said co-author of the new study, John Terning, a professor of physics at the University of California, Davis.
Years - Scientists - Particles - Particle - Accelerators
For years, scientists searched for these slow, chargeless particles using powerful particle accelerators. But as time went on, physicists ruled out more and more WIMP candidates— and the popular idea lost traction. Though not completely ruled out, "for the last 10 years, people have been thinking about other possibilities other than WIMPs," Terning said.
Another theory proposes that dark matter is actually made up of particles of light, or photons.
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