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Old June 4 2013, 01:49 PM   #76
Edit_XYZ
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
At the moment of writing this, there is no alternative theory that can adequately explain the behaviour of cosmological structures better than dark matter.
There is no one dark matter theory.
There are about a dozen dark matter conjectures, each giving dark matter extraordinary and unproven attributes.
And none of these conjectures explain the large scale behavior of galaxies, while being consistent with experimental evidence collected in our neck of the woods (for example, dark matter being completely uniformly spread out, etc).

Dark matter is simply a mathematical placeholder; arguing that we even have a convincing - aka, in accord with all experimental evidence, with properly determined characteristics, etc - conjecture as to what it is says more about the arguer.
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Old June 4 2013, 05:55 PM   #77
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
Probably because the population of black holes/neutron stars/brown dwarfs needed to explain the behaviour was thousands of time higher the upper end of expected interval determined from stellar evolution.
Which WOULD have been a valid point to raise and is one of the reasons I don't believe that particular theory either. That's not what worries me.

What worries me is that a surprising number of scientists accept that reasoning as a valid refutation without actually running the numbers to be sure. And the 2002 paper did not even appeal to numbers, but to a variation on the Argument from Incredulity: "If there were a lot of brown dwarfs in the galaxy, why haven't we seen them?"

The reason this worries me is that it demonstrates -- at least among cosmologists -- a willingness to discard possible explanations based less on data and more on preconceptions. When new data is introduced that would otherwise force them to reexamine those preconceptions, the tendency is to try to integrate that new data into the existing model rather than examine the model itself. The result, IMHO, is coming out to be an overly sophisticated model with more exceptions than rules and where the overwhelming majority of actors IN the model have not actually been proven to exist.

Lastly, the VERY worrisome thing about is is that cosmology is inextricably tied up with very expensive and very risk-averse space science projects, telescopes, satellites, laboratories and specialized equipment. With tens of billions of dollars on the line, there's pressure on scientists to achieve useable results, or if they don't, to justify the lack of results, often by calling for even more sophisticated instruments. No scientist -- no matter how honest or professional -- is going to go before the committee that funded a 350 million dollar satellite and tell them "All 50 tests were negative: no sign of dark matter." His career and the careers of his colleagues depends on his ability to spin that as "Our instruments detected [insert technobabble here] which could be consistent with some types of exotic particle processes. It's unclear whether this is suggestive of dark matter or some other process, but with more data the picture might become more clear." I've been in that situation before myself: Your can't say "Fail" so instead you produce a complicated "Did not entirely succeed."

That's bunk. Astrophysicists wold be thrilled to find a hole in GR.
There ARE several holes in GR. A dizzying number of them, in fact. I'm not speaking hypothetically here, I've been told by astrophysicists specifically that drawing any attention to the problems of General Relativity is an implicitly bad career move in some labs and especially in universities.
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Old June 4 2013, 09:13 PM   #78
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
There ARE several holes in GR. A dizzying number of them, in fact. I'm not speaking hypothetically here, I've been told by astrophysicists specifically that drawing any attention to the problems of General Relativity is an implicitly bad career move in some labs and especially in universities.
General Relativity, like Special Relativity, is extremely well-tested and understood. Eddington's experiments, modern GPS satellites... they've all confirmed GR's predictions and we've seen plenty of evidence from astronomical observations too.

Quantum gravity is another matter, where there are plenty of holes and ideas, but cosmological GR is generally pretty much regarded as a success.
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Old June 4 2013, 09:29 PM   #79
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

FlyingLemons wrote: View Post
Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
There ARE several holes in GR. A dizzying number of them, in fact. I'm not speaking hypothetically here, I've been told by astrophysicists specifically that drawing any attention to the problems of General Relativity is an implicitly bad career move in some labs and especially in universities.
General Relativity, like Special Relativity, is extremely well-tested and understood. Eddington's experiments, modern GPS satellites...
Urban legend. GPS satellites don't account for General OR Special Relativity in their calculations -- the degree of error due to time dilation is infinitesimally small and vanishes altogether in the background of larger sources of calculation error. And even if they did, they have to periodically recalibrate their onboard clocks anyway to stay in synch with ground stations.

The basic premise of general relativity -- relativistic gravity -- is verified experimentally. But GR has other problems that are hard to account for.
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Old June 4 2013, 10:09 PM   #80
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
Urban legend.
Your source for this? Generally relativistic corrections to GPS satellites is a question set for many students learning about relativity.
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Old June 4 2013, 10:27 PM   #81
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
FlyingLemons wrote: View Post
General Relativity, like Special Relativity, is extremely well-tested and understood. Eddington's experiments, modern GPS satellites...
Urban legend.
Without relativity, GPS positions would be 65 ns off in only 2 minutes, which would put you dozens of meters away from your real position. Ten kilometres off in a day. Urban legend indeed.

http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/...Unit5/gps.html
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Old June 4 2013, 10:32 PM   #82
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

This bit of Wikipedia pisses off one of my colleagues who teaches the Gen Rel class at my university as before said Wikipedia page it was a good question to set.

He will, no doubt, breath a sigh of relief at it being an urban legend. If it's physicsmyths.org.uk that's the source of this, I'm going to have to go and roll up a big one or bake some brownies to continue. I wonder if the board software supports LaTeX?

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
There ARE several holes in GR. A dizzying number of them,
And what are the holes that there are "a dizzying number of", anyway?
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Old June 4 2013, 11:23 PM   #83
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

Space station detector gives first clues to 'dark matter'

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/04/world/...rticle_sidebar
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Old June 5 2013, 03:52 AM   #84
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

FlyingLemons wrote: View Post
Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
Urban legend.
Your source for this?
Dean of the physics department at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, after running the numbers myself and finding out that the statistical error resulting from uncorrected relativistic effects was actually an order of magnitude smaller than was suggested in the textbook (it worked out to ten meters, NOT ten kilometers, and my professor couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong so we went to the dean on sort of a bar bet). His reply was exactly this: GPS satellites do not really account for relativistic effects because they don't have to: their onboard clocks re-synch periodically through ground stations to keep them coordinated with both the Earth clocks and one another. Meaning that, to the extent relativistic effects are relevant at all, the satellite's onboard clocks are updated via ground stations anyway and regular compensation is not necessary or indeed even implemented.

He expressed to me his belief that the idea that GPS satellites accounted for relativistic effects actually originated from physics textbooks that used the GPS satellites as real-world scenario for relativistic calculations and that the eventual graduates of those classes went on to write articles about GPS satellites accounting for relativistic effects without actually knowing whether or not this was the case.

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
Without relativity, GPS positions would be 65 ns off in only 2 minutes
Which might be a problem except that most GPS receivers are only accurate to at most about 100ns -- some up to a microsecond -- which in your interpretation would mean an error of not less than 100 meters. Either my math is off (a distinct possibility) or an error of 65ns would add up to pseudorange of between 20 and 70 centimeters, which becomes considerably less if the receiver is using more than three satellites.

GPS satellites re-synch their atomic clocks via ground stations multiple times a day -- I had heard every ten to 20 minutes, but can't find a source for this now. Either way, they apparently do this more often than they upgrade their ephemeris data, which I know for a fact is done every two hours.

Urban legend indeed.
Well, really a scientific legend. It's similar to some of the weird and exotic things scientists claim about human beings exposed to the vacuum of space. Actually, it seems to be the case that ALOT of what scientists understand about "Things that happen in space" contains a lot more speculation than fact and not everyone is careful to separate the two.
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Old June 5 2013, 04:13 AM   #85
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

That's exactly what I'm on about:

According to a CERN statement, the results announced Wednesday "are consistent with the positrons originating from the annihilation of dark matter particles in space, but not yet sufficiently conclusive to rule out other explanations."
For one thing, this basically refers to the WIMPs -- specifically, to neutralino -- model of Dark Matter. The reason they think this is related to dark matter is because it is theorized that large objects (the sun, for example) would possess enough gravity to capture dark matter particles; those particles would accumulate in sufficient density to interact with the material of those stars via the weak force; that interaction would produce a neutrino, which in turn would react with other particles to produce a high-energy positron.

Which is to say the conclusion "Evidence of dark matter" is based on a mathematical model, which is based on an assumption about the behavior of a hypothetical particle whose existence -- let alone behavior -- has never been demonstrated.

The search for dark matter has all the dynamics of an episode of Ghost Hunters. The only difference is the microphone that picks up the "strange noises that probably indicate a ghost" is a million times more expensive.
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Old June 5 2013, 08:50 AM   #86
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

Here's the story - with less spin-doctoring:
http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/...n-dark-matter/

Negative result for dark matter - but the tell-tale signs of dark matter (abrupt cutoff in positrons above a certain energy) may be beyond the range of the detector, the story goes, as always.
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Old June 5 2013, 06:29 PM   #87
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
His reply was exactly this: GPS satellites do not really account for relativistic effects because they don't have to: their onboard clocks re-synch periodically through ground stations to keep them coordinated with both the Earth clocks and one another.
That's the GPS system recalibrating the satellite clock from the ground station to take into account the time dilation that would occur if the satellite clock were left to its own devices. It suppresses the time dilation effect by design - but without this built in would have problems as is well documented in the literature. Plenty of experiments have been done using the GPS system to examine the time dilation effect in general relativity, and thus we regard it as generally uncontroversial.

But I digress. I didn't read the rest of the thread...

Crazy Eddie wrote:
Theoretical physicists have become so enamored by the possibilities of dark matter that derivative theories about what it could be and what it could DO extend far beyond any logical connection to the data that suggests its existence...
Uh... not really. The media would like to portray it that way, but in actual fact there are quite a few interesting debates going on surrounding that area.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
If a highly respected physicist hacks together a bullshit mathematical equation that no one understands, who exactly is going to call him on it? Not his peers, who don't understand the equation and can't explain why it's bullshit.
Have you ever tried submitting a paper to Nature, PRD or JHEP? The reviewers there tend to be absolutely merciless if they find a mistake in your math - in my experience papers need to be mathematically watertight to get through at least for those journals. As iguana pointed out, physicists are pretty cut-throat and don't shy away from criticizing each other's work.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
The only reason scientists question modified gravity is because they're uncomfortable with the idea that general relativity may be at least partially incorrect and/or inapplicable.
Theoretical physicist perfectly comfortable with the idea of modified gravity here...

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
Relativity itself has become a kind of academic sacred cow that scientists and engineers are reluctant to give the appearance of questioning, even when the theory itself is legitimately inapplicable.
Uh, what? Where'd you pick this up? There's plenty of us thinking about modifications and extensions to the theory of relativity because of the wealth of observational data in particle physics and cosmology telling us that something's not quite right with regards to the cosmological constant and high-energy behavior of gravity.

I'm a particle physicist so my interests lie towards the smaller areas of physics rather than the large, but off the top of my head:

There's the idea of inhomogeneous cosmologies that's been knocking about for ages and still generates papers. If the universe is not homogeneous and isotropic, perhaps dark matter doesn't exist after all and is instead an observational consequence of inhomogeneity.

Modified gravity, often involving scalar fields. Up until recently, I might have said "where's your scalar field?". There's now something vaguely Higgs-like floating around in LHC results... possibly we've found the first instance of a scalar field in nature.

Then there's one area I've worked in: that of the application of renormalization group. RG allows the constants of a quantum field theory to become subject to an energy scale, and allows us to vary said constants and study how the phenomenology of the system is affected by this.

Applying it to gravity, you can treat the theory of general relativity as an effective field theory and allow G and lambda to vary from the Planck era. This is quite interesting as some work by Percacci indicates that we could get inflation, reheating and the cosmological constant for "free" rather than through the introduction of new, unknown scalar fields.

Some also think that this idea could again be responsible for dark matter as well, meaning that it's down to a quantum gravity effect rather than any kind of new particle out there.

Relativity isn't "sacred". Any of these three ideas being experimentally proved would cause the textbooks to be rewritten. However, there's definitely a lot of general relativity that is well-tested, and what some call "gaping holes" for some reason most of us who work in physics call research areas to be explored rather than things that have us "worried".
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Old June 5 2013, 07:23 PM   #88
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

FlyingLemons wrote: View Post
Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
His reply was exactly this: GPS satellites do not really account for relativistic effects because they don't have to: their onboard clocks re-synch periodically through ground stations to keep them coordinated with both the Earth clocks and one another.
That's the GPS system recalibrating the satellite clock from the ground station to take into account the time dilation that would occur if the satellite clock were left to its own devices.
That's kinda what I mean. The satellites aren't programmed to account for relativistic distortions; they re-synch manually via ground stations. The claim that the satellites have a corrective subroutine that accounts for relativistic effects is more legend than fact. Besides which, the accrued error due to time dilation alone would be relatively small even if it wasn't corrected.

Crazy Eddie wrote:
Theoretical physicists have become so enamored by the possibilities of dark matter that derivative theories about what it could be and what it could DO extend far beyond any logical connection to the data that suggests its existence...
Uh... not really. The media would like to portray it that way, but in actual fact there are quite a few interesting debates going on surrounding that area.
And I've been following enough of those debates to know that several of them are debates between theorists over the nature of the derivative theories and their broader implications in cosmology. Always in such cases I get the sense that theorists are getting way ahead of themselves, debating the properties of something that has not yet been proven to exist in the first place, which explains why alot of those debates bear a rather disturbing resemblance to arguments between Trek fans over the nature of warp drive. In the complete absence of data, otherwise rational scientists begin to substitute personal bias and unsupported assumption in its place. When their peers blow those assumptions out of the water, suddenly it gets personal.

Have you ever tried submitting a paper to Nature, PRD or JHEP? The reviewers there tend to be absolutely merciless if they find a mistake in your math - in my experience papers need to be mathematically watertight to get through at least for those journals. As iguana pointed out, physicists are pretty cut-throat and don't shy away from criticizing each other's work.
I know that, but at the same time it goes both ways. If you construct an equation of great enough sophistication that nobody can actually tell what you did wrong, it becomes easier to attack the credibility of people who disagree with you. Which, again, is pretty much what happened with Reinhart and Rogoff's austerity study until somebody actually dug into the numbers and found them to be bullshit after all.

Uh, what? Where'd you pick this up?
From conversations with a friend of mine working in Fermilab, although I should clarify that this is less a problem with the theorists and more a problem with institutions that fund them (universities and government agencies, for example). This is where politics and the scientific method begins to clash, which is DEFINITELY a relationship that scientists are understandably uncomfortable talking about.

There's plenty of us thinking about modifications and extensions to the theory of relativity because of the wealth of observational data in particle physics and cosmology telling us that something's not quite right with regards to the cosmological constant and high-energy behavior of gravity.
I know, and I'm familiar with a lot of them too. MY personal bias (call it a pet theory) is that Einstein's interpretation of the implications of Lorentz contractions introduced some potentially unwarranted conclusions and there is actually no need to extend the theory beyond Minkowski spacetime. I think that General Relativity would work a lot better if a way could be found to systematically apply Lortentz transformations to a curved spacetime -- say, Minkowsky spacetime with a noticeable curve -- at which point the distinction between special and general relativity disappears.

I'm a particle physicist
I'm a skeptical asshat who reads too much. Pleased to meet you!
Then there's one area I've worked in: that of the application of renormalization group. RG allows the constants of a quantum field theory to become subject to an energy scale, and allows us to vary said constants and study how the phenomenology of the system is affected by this.

Applying it to gravity, you can treat the theory of general relativity as an effective field theory and allow G and lambda to vary from the Planck era. This is quite interesting as some work by Percacci indicates that we could get inflation, reheating and the cosmological constant for "free" rather than through the introduction of new, unknown scalar fields.
I'll update my reading list for the weekend. Thanks for the tip!
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Old June 5 2013, 08:02 PM   #89
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
That's kinda what I mean. The satellites aren't programmed to account for relativistic distortions; they re-synch manually via ground stations. The claim that the satellites have a corrective subroutine that accounts for relativistic effects is more legend than fact. Besides which, the accrued error due to time dilation alone would be relatively small even if it wasn't corrected.
I assume that most people reading when I mentioned GPS satellites would have understood about the clock problem. That's pretty much what most of everyone thinks of.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
And I've been following enough of those debates to know that several of them are debates between theorists over the nature of the derivative theories and their broader implications in cosmology. Always in such cases I get the sense that theorists are getting way ahead of themselves...
We aren't "getting ahead of ourselves" when we've had pretty conclusive proof from observation and experiment that the basics of general relativity work. Some people get excited over more exotic theories, but until something to support them comes up we generally treat them as being theory only.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
From conversations with a friend of mine working in Fermilab, although I should clarify that this is less a problem with the theorists and more a problem with institutions that fund them (universities and government agencies, for example).
Having been involved in reviewing several grant applications for the UK's STFC, I can officially say that "questioning relativity" will not get you in trouble career-wise. Among other things that have been approved are proposals to study Lorentz violation, which at least to me pretty much counts as "questioning relativity".

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
MY personal bias (call it a pet theory) is that Einstein's interpretation of the implications of Lorentz contractions introduced some potentially unwarranted conclusions and there is actually no need to extend the theory beyond Minkowski spacetime. I think that General Relativity would work a lot better if way could be found to systematically apply Lortentz transformations to a curved spacetime -- say, Minkowsky spacetime with a noticeable curve -- which which point the distinction between special and general relativity disappears.
Well, good luck with that but you've got a fair amount of observational evidence separating special and general relativity to overturn from cosmology, as well as finding a way of making transformations valid only in weak gravity work in a strong gravitational environment with non-vanishing curvature.

It would be an interesting paper to read, to say the least...
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Old June 5 2013, 08:22 PM   #90
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Re: Strange Dark Matter Theory

FlyingLemons wrote: View Post
Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
And I've been following enough of those debates to know that several of them are debates between theorists over the nature of the derivative theories and their broader implications in cosmology. Always in such cases I get the sense that theorists are getting way ahead of themselves...
We aren't "getting ahead of ourselves" when we've had pretty conclusive proof from observation and experiment that the basics of general relativity work.
But not dark matter, which is what that paragraph was referring to.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
From conversations with a friend of mine working in Fermilab, although I should clarify that this is less a problem with the theorists and more a problem with institutions that fund them (universities and government agencies, for example).
Having been involved in reviewing several grant applications for the UK's STFC, I can officially say that "questioning relativity" will not get you in trouble career-wise. Among other things that have been approved are proposals to study Lorentz violation, which at least to me pretty much counts as "questioning relativity".
But are actually related to quantum gravity and m-theory, and -- again, only going by what I hear from gripes -- is a delicate balance of proposing the new theory without offending the biases of establishmentarians.

OTOH, you work in the UK? It could just be cultural.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
MY personal bias (call it a pet theory) is that Einstein's interpretation of the implications of Lorentz contractions introduced some potentially unwarranted conclusions and there is actually no need to extend the theory beyond Minkowski spacetime. I think that General Relativity would work a lot better if way could be found to systematically apply Lortentz transformations to a curved spacetime -- say, Minkowsky spacetime with a noticeable curve -- which which point the distinction between special and general relativity disappears.
Well, good luck with that but you've got a fair amount of observational evidence separating special and general relativity to overturn from cosmology, as well as finding a way of making transformations valid only in weak gravity work in a strong gravitational (highly curved, that is) environment.
If I ever did get around to I'd start from the latter -- getting the transformations work in a high curvature -- and then work backwards to the observational evidence to see if the numbers are (or could be made) consistent with it.
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