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At Phys.org: This Australian experiment is on the hunt for an elusive particle that could help unlock the mystery of dark matter


The ORGAN Experiment, Australia’s first major dark matter detector, recently completed a search for a hypothetical particle called an axion—a popular candidate among theories that try to explain dark matter.

People, planets, stars and galaxies are all made of “regular matter.” But we know regular matter makes up just one-sixth of all the matter in the universe.

The rest is made of what we call “dark matter.” Its name tells you almost everything we know about it. It doesn’t emit light (so we call it “dark”) and it has mass (so we call it “matter”).

If it’s invisible, how do we know it’s there?

When we observe the way things move in space, we find time and again that we can’t explain our observations if we consider only what we can see.

Spinning galaxies are a great example. Most galaxies spin at speeds that can’t be explained by the gravitational pull from visible matter alone.

So there must be dark matter in these galaxies, providing extra gravity and allowing them to spin faster—without parts being flung off into space. We think dark matter literally holds galaxies together.

How could we detect it?

Many scientists believe dark matter could be composed of hypothetical particles called axions.

Anyway, after the axion was proposed, scientists realized the particle could also make up dark matter under certain conditions. That’s because axions are expected to have very weak interactions with regular matter, but still have some mass: the two conditions needed for dark matter.

Shining a light on dark matter

An axion is believed to convert into a photon in the presence of a strong magnetic field. In a typical haloscope, we generate this magnetic field using a big electromagnet called a “superconducting solenoid.”

Targeting mass regions

An axion of a certain mass will convert into a photon of a certain frequency, or color. But since the mass of axions is unknown, experiments must target their search to different regions, focusing on those where dark matter is considered more likely to exist.

If no dark matter signal is found, then either the experiment is not sensitive enough to hear the signal above the noise, or there’s no dark matter in the corresponding axion mass region.

But why does dark matter matter?

Well, for one, we know from history that when we invest in fundamental physics, we end up developing important technologies. For instance, all modern computing relies on our understanding of quantum mechanics.

We never would have discovered electricity, or radio waves, if we didn’t pursue things that, at the time, appeared to be strange physical phenomena beyond our understanding. Dark matter is the same.

Consider everything humans have accomplished by understanding just one-sixth of the matter in the universe—and imagine what we could do if we unlocked the rest.

Full article at Phys.org.

The point about the value of fundamental research yielding useful technology seems consistent with purposeful intelligent design, otherwise, one would probably have to just chalk it up to luck.

JVL at 8, I think what you and some others here are very concerned about is connecting Intelligent Design to God, the Christian God. The biggest fear is this could 'get into the schools,' which would work against the current Marxist-Atheist control of education. Evolution is not a neutral thing, it atheism, 100%. relatd
Relatd: The Catholic Church is able to combine scientific knowledge with Divinely revealed truth. I can understand that. But that's not the same as being able to test the Divinely revealed truth as you would a scientific hypothesis. So, I still think that you cannot test or codify the Divine. So, The Divine is not a part of science. JVL
“A being with unlimited knowledge and power could just “poof” anything it wanted into existence” Depends on what you mean by “anything” Vivid. vividbleau
JVL at 5, The Catholic Church is able to combine scientific knowledge with Divinely revealed truth. The problem is certain basic atheist statements about Creation. They certainly make reference to science when making their claims. Richard Dawkins tells people that living things only look designed. They are not actually designed. “Finding Design in Nature” by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn • The Church “proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.” • “Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.” • Quoting our late Holy Father John Paul II: “The evolution of living beings, of which science seeks to determine the stages and to discern the mechanism, presents an internal finality which arouses admiration. This finality, which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible or in charge, obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator.” • Again quoting John Paul II: “To all these indications of the existence of God the Creator, some oppose the power of chance or of the proper mechanisms of matter. To speak of chance for a universe which presents such a complex organization in its elements and such marvelous finality in its life would be equivalent to giving up the search for an explanation of the world as it appears to us. In fact, this would be equivalent to admitting effects without a cause. It would be to abdicate human intelligence, which would thus refuse to think and to seek a solution for its problems.” • Quoting the Catechism : “Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason . . . . We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance.” "The modern world needs badly to hear this message. What frequently passes for modern science”with its heavy accretion of materialism and positivism”is simply wrong about nature in fundamental ways. Modern science is often, in the words of my essay, “ideology, not science.” The problems caused by positivism are especially acute in the broad anti-teleological implications drawn from Darwin’s theory of evolution, which has become (in the phrase of Pope Benedict XVI, writing some years ago) the new “first philosophy” of the modern world, a total and foundational description of reality that goes far beyond a proper grounding in the descriptive and reductive science on which it is based. My essay was designed to awaken Catholics from their dogmatic slumber about positivism in general and evolutionism in particular. It appears to have worked." relatd
Relatd: God does not labor as men do. His ways are not our ways. His plans for earth and the universe can only be partly known to us, especially regarding the future. Makes it hard to encompass God in any kind of scientific endeavour then. I mean since science is all about: if this then that. If there's some cosmic being making choices based on some indiscernible criteria then how can we look at that scientifically? JVL
Human creativity is a gift from God. Our ability to extrapolate, to form new things sets us apart from the animals. relatd
Perhaps God was having fun designing all the weird and wonderful lifeforms and the other amazing things in his Universe. Engineers enjoy tinkering and are made in God's image, so maybe God likes to tinker (i.e. be creative) in his creation? Humans should not be quick to limit or constrain the Creator, especially when they don't believe in him. Fasteddious
Seversky at 1, It would help you immensely if you start thinking of God as God as opposed to making him no more or less powerful than men. God does not labor as men do. His ways are not our ways. His plans for earth and the universe can only be partly known to us, especially regarding the future. The Bible records six days of Creation. God created, not men. God designed all the flowers, land animals and living things in the sea. Then He made man, followed by woman. relatd
As Mill argued, evidence of design can be evidence of limitations. A being with unlimited knowledge and power could just "poof" anything it wanted into existence. It would have no need to go through the laborious business of designing and building things. Seversky

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