Friday, August 12, 2011

Dark Matter, Smark matter. I want antigravity antimatter!

There’s an article over on ( about a paper by CERN physicist Dragan Slavkov Hajdukovic. Rather than the usual hypothesis/experiment paper most of us laypeople are used to, Hajdukovic is theorizing a different explanation for the gravity observations that have led us to the “Dark Matter” concept. (FYI I have given up: hereafter I will refer to Mr. Hajdukovic as “DSH”, because typing out his name gives my English speaking typing fingers vertigo.)

To summarize the dark matter issue: observations of galaxies and star clusters have found that they rotate faster than would be expected given the amount of normal or “baryonic” matter that can be seen in the various wavelengths. There are currently two, main competing ideas to explain this: (1) there’s more matter out there that doesn’t interact with baryonic matter or with light, but does have gravity effects (coined “Dark Matter”) or (2) that pretty much everything we know about gravity from Newton and Einstein is actually totally wrong. I’ve always personally reserved my judgment about BOTH of these ideas because they seem to fly in the face of Occam's razor (

Mr. DSH is hypothesizing a third option which doesn’t propose such a radical definition of what we know about the universe, and that makes me happy. To quote Inigo Montoya “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” We know that virtual particle/antiparticle pairs pop in and out of existence all the time. DSH is proposing that antimatter, as well as having an opposite electromagnetic charge has an opposite gravitational charge. When the virtual pairs appear those opposite gravities repel each other like a magnet would (insert “Magnets, how to they work?” joke here). So like a magnet having a positive and negative charge but summing up to one magnetic effect, this “gravitational dipole” adds to the gravitational field produced by the rest of the baryonic matter in a galaxy. Therefore there’s more gravity pushing/pulling the galaxies around than what would just come from the baryonic matter.

As you can tell, I like this idea. We don’t have to “take physics and bin it” for DSH to be correct. It’s elegant, simple and provides an explanation that doesn’t require a wholesale redefinition of everything we already know about the universe.

But even more than the fascinating idea presented, I loved the tone of the article and DSH’s quotes:
“The key message of my paper is that dark matter may not exist and that phenomena attributed to dark matter may be explained by the gravitational polarization of the quantum vacuum,” Hajdukovic told “The future experiments and observations will reveal if my results are only (surprising) numerical coincidences or an embryo of a new scientific revolution.”
This is science as it should be done. DSH has a beautiful idea and has probably worked a lot on the math to back up his idea, but he still maintains the “Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong” attitude. There is a genuine controversy in science surrounding this dark matter debate. But people like DSH are looking at the problem from a new angle and coming up with new ideas. DSH’s ideas will be peer reviewed, debated, tested, attacked and refined. So will the “dark matter” and “we were wrong about physics” concepts. Even though DSH’s hypothesis sits better with me personally, it could be wrong. I take comfort in the knowledge that in the end the scientific community will eventually come to a consensus and we’ll know a little bit more about this amazing universe we live in.

That makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, now I can enjoy my weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Cool story, Greg. This is an interesting addition to current theories that attempt to explain the anomalies we see in how gravity reacts on a massive scale. Dark Matter theories still seem to have upper hand as they also explain other phenomena such as gravitational lensing.  But the potential of this idea to ultimately explain these anomalies, uncover a new theory of gravity, as well as explain a new cyclical model of the universe alternating between matter and anti-matter is intriguing and extremely cool.  The fact that CERN may be close to testing whether matter and anti-matter are gravitationally repulsive, giving experimental support to the theory, makes it an exciting line of research. 

    I'm not in a position to say which of these theories are the strongest.  Results from CERN on how matter and anti-matter react to each other are going to do a lot to weed out these competing theories. Exciting stuff.