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Space Science

X Particle Might Explain Dark Matter & Antimatter 285

cold fjord writes "Wired Science has a story on a new theory that tries to explain dark matter, and the balance of regular matter with antimatter. This theory may even be testable. From the article: 'A new hypothetical particle could solve two cosmic mysteries at once: what dark matter is made of, and why there's enough matter for us to exist at all."
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X Particle Might Explain Dark Matter & Antimatter

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  • Re:testable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:14PM (#34496614)

    Yes, but why?

    That's the question that needs answering. We see that there is matter, obviously, but common sense (assuming the big bang is accurate, and it has held up pretty well over the years) says their shouldn't be.

    So why does matter exist? Why didn't matter and anti-matter annihilate each other evenly? They've tested it in the colliders, and sure enough, matter and anti-matter are not created equally given the conditions necessary to create them.

    This is a theory to explain why what is, is. This is how science works. You take an observable fact, create a hypothesis for why it might be so, and test the hypothesis. If it works as the hypothesis describes, you're closer to knowing why the observable fact is an observable fact. When you know a bunch of reasons why observable facts exist, you start to be able to predict new things that you haven't observed yet, and you can start looking for them. If you don't find them, your theory is bunk. If you do, your theory may still be bunk, but you at least know it is pretty good.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:17PM (#34496634)

    Wow, haven't been following physics much, eh?

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:20PM (#34496654)

    "This theory may even be testable."

    To be a theory it must be testable.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChrisMP1 ( 1130781 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:21PM (#34496662)
    Yes, because as we all know, the 'black' in 'black hole' is a reference to ignorance, not a reference to its light-capturing property.
  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:48PM (#34496788) Homepage Journal

    There's a difference between "testable in theory" and "testable in practice". Science proceeds from both ends towards the middle, where theoreticians and experimenters meet.

    Theoreticians work on things that may not be testable in practice, now. They may be testable one day, and that actually happens: particle physicists build bigger colliders, astronomers get to see the views they couldn't before, paleontologists dig up the fossil they expected but didn't have.

    It leaves the realm of science utterly when it's not testable even in theory. Between the two there's a gray area, where something may not be practical in the forseeable future, or may require so much time and space and energy that it's absurd to think it would ever become practical. Theoreticians run a minefield here, but it would be invalid to forbid them from going there. They might well find a way to take something absurd and make it realistic; it happens.

    I'm glossing over a lot of epistemic niceties here, but the point is that a theory does not have to be testable at the moment to be science. If this one happens to be testable now or in the near future, yay; that lets us exclude a lot of territory that's currently in the mine field. But it likely would not have happened without other theoreticians having explored that space.

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @11:49PM (#34496798)

    just put a crowbar by the testing lab

  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:09AM (#34497610) Homepage

    Yes, it's because it doesn't emit (except for the Hawking radiation) but it's still a name of ignorance: the existance of the singularity proofs Einstein's general relativity as wrong but we still lack a better theory to substitute it.

    Actually it's the opposite.

    The existence of singularities was a major prediction of General Relativity, and the source of much skepticism towards the theory. People didn't believe a thing like that could exist in our universe. The discovery of Black Holes with many of the predicted properties was (more) proof that GR was a damn good theory.

    Not that we don't need a better theory to address known flaws, or that you couldn't in some way say Black Hole is a 'name of ignorance'. Certainly, there is a lot we don't know about them. If there is any problem with relativity wrt black holes, it's that since we can't look past the event horizon, we can't tell if there really exists a mathematical discontinuity in the universe or if something else is happening.

  • by stuckinarut ( 891702 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @03:30AM (#34497968)
    Well said sir! As an example, Frame-dragging was proposed as a theory in 1918 based on Einstein's theory of General Relativity but wasn't able to be tested until 1996 with a couple of special satellites and even then not accurately enough to be provable until 2006. Since we had barely left the ground let alone orbit the earth at that point I'm sure it must have seemed un-testable at the time.
  • by LeDopore ( 898286 ) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @08:35AM (#34499250) Homepage Journal

    There are about 10^500 possible string theories. We haven't yet found any that conform to all our observations. We don't know if it's even possible to search efficiently for that needle in the 10^500-big haystack, so string theory might be like the evil hall of mirrors in a bad B-movie: "yes, my childish nemesis, you falsified THIS one, but which one is the REAL string theory? HA HA HA!".

    String theory may not be on a par with astrology, but IMHO it sullies the term theory. Anyone who has defended the theory of Evolution against fundies knows that's a bad move. It wouldn't be a bad idea to rename it string physics, even though arguably it's not physics yet either.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN