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Dark Matter: Analyzing Conspiracy Theories And Busting Myths

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Author: Aryan Sharma [Cornell University]


This paper will examine and disprove a conspiracy theory that calls into doubt the existence of dark matter, a mysterious and unseen material that makes up about 27% of the cosmos. Despite substantial scientific evidence confirming the existence of dark matter, this conspiracy theory contends that it is a fictional idea invented by scientists to conceal gaps in our understanding of the universe. This paper intends to present a detailed analysis that refutes the assumption that dark matter is a hoax by investigating the assertions made by proponents of this conspiracy theory and evaluating the scientific evidence.

1 Introduction

Since its beginnings in 1933 by Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky, the mysterious notion of dark matter has been an essential concept in the science of cosmology. Despite its invisibility and mysterious nature, dark matter is estimated to account for around 27% of the universe's mass-energy makeup. Because this unseen form of matter does not interact with electromagnetic waves, it is undetected using standard observational techniques. Its existence is instead deduced from its tremendous gravitational impacts on celestial planets and light.

While dark matter's gravitational effects on galaxies and galaxy clusters give convincing evidence for its existence, a conspiracy theory has evolved, claiming that dark matter is a scientific deception. According to this idea, dark matter is a hoax manufactured by scientists to conceal gaps in our understanding of the cosmos. To offer a thorough study and disprove this conspiracy theory, it is necessary to investigate the claims made by its proponents as well as examine the substantial scientific evidence confirming the reality of dark matter.

2 History, Existence, and Characteristics of Dark Matter

Zwicky proposed the presence of dark matter in 1933 after observing the Coma galaxy cluster. Given their tremendous velocity, he realized that the observable mass of the galaxies was inadequate to keep them from scattering. This prompted him to hypothesize the presence of invisible matter, or "dunkle Materie" (dark matter), which serves as the gravitational glue that holds the cluster together (Zwicky, 1933).

Vera Rubin and Kent Ford, however, did not give major evidence confirming Zwicky's idea until the 1970s. They investigated galaxies' rotation curves and discovered that stars near the galaxy's edge moved at the same pace as those towards the center, confounding Newtonian dynamics predictions.

The possible existence of an invisible halo of matter encircling the galaxies was suggested by this "flat" rotation curve (Rubin et al., 1980).

Dark matter can be identified mainly by its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the universe's large-scale structure. It is deduced from processes like gravitational lensing, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), and galaxy cluster formation.

Dark matter is thought to be non-baryonic, which means it lacks the conventional atom's protons, neutrons, and electrons. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) and axions are the top candidates for dark matter particles (Bertone et al., 2005).

Furthermore, dark matter is "cold," which means it flows in the early cosmos non-relativistically. This property is essential for the production of structures in the cosmos since "hot" or fast-moving particles would inhibit the formation of smaller structures such as galaxies (Planck Collaboration et al., 2020).

3 Falsification Conditions for Dark Matter

A. Modifying Gravity Laws: One feasible path for refuting the presence of dark matter is to examine alternative gravity theories that can explain the observable gravitational effects commonly attributed to dark matter. Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND), for example, is a well-known alternative theory that posits a change to Newton's equations of gravity at low accelerations. According to Milgrom (1983), the observed gravitational anomalies in galaxies may be explained without the existence of dark matter. Despite its early promise, MOND presents difficulties in describing the known large-scale structure of the universe and anisotropies in cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation (Sanders & McGaugh, 2002). Thus, while theories such as MOND present intriguing lines of investigation, they have not definitively refuted the requirement for dark matter.

B. Explanation of Galaxy and Galaxy Cluster Behaviors: Another method for disproving dark matter is to demonstrate that the observable dynamics of galaxies and galaxy clusters can be satisfactorily described without the necessity for unseen mass. However, computer simulations and observations have shown that the presence of dark matter best explains the gravitational effects observed in galaxies, such as spiral galaxies' rotation curves and velocity dispersion in galaxy clusters (Navarro, Frenk, & White, 1996; Clowe et al., 2006). Studies that aim to explain galaxy dynamics without dark matter often have difficulties in reliably recreating known characteristics (Lelli et al., 2017). This disparity between simulated and observed behavior suggests that dark matter remains the most plausible explanation for the gravitational effects seen.

C. Existing Observational Support: While scientists investigate potential falsification scenarios, it is critical to acknowledge that existing observations consistently support the presence of dark matter. Astrophysical phenomena such as: i) gravitational lensing (Massey et al., 2007)

ii) cosmic microwave background anisotropies (Planck Collaboration et al., 2020)

iii) large-scale structure creation (Alam et al., 2017), all agree with dark matter predictions. Furthermore, astronomical measurements have revealed the presence of dark matter halos surrounding galaxies and galaxy clusters, lending credence to their existence (Bullock & Boylan-Kolchin, 2017).

4 Major Conspiracy Theory about Dark Matter

A. Modified Newtonian dynamics:

Modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) is an alternative theory that calls into question the existence of dark matter. To explain the known distribution of force in astronomical objects from the observed distribution of baryonic matter, MOND suggests a modification of Newton's law of gravity or inertia. MOND's ability in forecasting the shape of galaxy rotation curves and other empirical phenomena has been claimed to represent a refutation of the cold dark matter (CDM) theory on the size of galaxies.

MOND's ability to reliably forecast galaxy rotation curves using only one free parameter, the visible disk's mass-to-light ratio, is one of its fundamental phenomenological accomplishments. In contrast, the dark matter paradigm often necessitates the use of numerous free parameters to match rotation curves. MOND has been used to analyze several galaxies' rotation curves, and in most cases, the predicted rotation curves match the actual curves with just slight differences.

In addition, MOND explains other systematic elements of galaxy and cluster dynamics. It explains the occurrence of a preferred surface density in spiral and elliptical galaxies, known as the Freeman and Fish laws. MOND also explains the mass-velocity dispersion relation found in elliptical galaxies, as well as the mass-temperature relation observed in clusters of galaxies.

While MOND has been effective in describing a variety of empirical events, it is vital to stress that it lacks a completely defined theoretical foundation. Several theoretical frameworks, including TeVeS (Tensor-Vector-Scalar gravity), have been proposed to give a covariant formulation of MOND compatible with general relativity.

In conclusion, MOND's effectiveness in describing galaxy rotation curves and other empirical phenomena calls into question the requirement for dark matter on the size of galaxies. MOND does not give a full cosmological framework, but it does present an alternate viewpoint that merits more examination and theoretical elaboration.

5 Debunking the Dark Matter Conspiracy Theory

A. Alternative Theories:

MOND, the most well-known conspiracy theory concerning dark matter, has encountered several challenges and objections from the scientific community. One of the most common critiques leveled at MOND is that it fails to explain a wide variety of evidence beyond galactic scales. It strives to explain, among other things, the large-scale structure of the cosmos, cosmic microwave background radiation, and gravitational lensing effects found in galaxy clusters.

Furthermore, MOND lacks a firm theoretical foundation and struggles to explain observed matter distribution in the cosmos. It also fails to account for the Bullet Cluster findings, which show the separation of dark matter and ordinary matter following a collision.

The dark matter hypothesis, on the other hand, gives a coherent explanation for a wide range of phenomena of various sizes, from galaxies' rotation curves to the large-scale structure of the universe, and is backed by a wealth of observable data. Dark matter interacts with regular matter gravitationally and can be discovered indirectly through its gravitational effects on visible stuff.

While other theories like MOND are still being researched, the vast majority of scientists believe that dark matter is the most likely explanation for the observed events. Ongoing research, including particle accelerator experiments and observations with modern telescopes, attempts to directly discover and analyze dark matter, adding to our understanding of the universe's composition and behavior.

B. The Fabrication Allegation:

Science is a process of discovery fueled by the desire for knowledge and understanding. The notion of dark matter evolved from rigorous scientific inquiry aiming at unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos. Scientists did not construct dark matter to disguise their ignorance, but rather to explain observable gravitational phenomena that cannot be explained by visible matter alone.

Gravitational lensing, a phenomenon observed in various astronomical surveys, provides strong evidence for the presence of dark matter. The gravitational field of huge objects bends light, demonstrating the presence of an unseen mass that interacts gravitationally with visible matter. Furthermore, the patterns and changes detected in the cosmic microwave background match the predictions given by the dark matter hypothesis, bolstering its validity.

C. Lack of Direct Detection:

The absence of direct detection does not rule out the possibility of dark matter. Many scientific discoveries are made through observation of their repercussions rather than direct detection. Dark matter's presence is deduced from its gravitational effects on visible matter and the universe's large-scale structure.

Existing observations support the existence of dark matter. Gravitational lensing, cosmic microwave background anisotropies, and the formation of large-scale structures all agree with dark matter predictions. Furthermore, astronomical observations have confirmed the presence of dark matter halos encircling galaxies and galaxy clusters, lending support to its existence.

6 Conclusion

In conclusion, the scientific idea of dark matter is based on a strong basis, which is supported by an abundance of empirical facts and rigorous study. Scientists have amassed convincing evidence that indicates the presence of dark matter as the most complete explanation for the universe's enigmatic gravitational phenomena through numerous observations and tests.

The conspiracy idea that dark matter is a deception, is rather devoid of scientific evidence and fails to offer a credible alternative explanation for the observable facts. It is critical to distinguish between scientific investigation and speculative supposition. The scientific community is always on the lookout for new information, rather than hiding it. The concept of dark matter arose from intense scientific research motivated by a desire to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos.

One of the primary evidence supporting dark matter is gravitational lensing, a phenomena detected in many astronomical surveys. Then the patterns and variations detected in the cosmic microwave background match the predictions given by the dark matter hypothesis.

Furthermore, the gravitational effects of dark matter can explain the development and evolution of the universe's large-scale structure, including the grouping of galaxies and the formation of galaxy clusters. Computer models and observations have consistently shown that dark matter plays a critical role in forming cosmic architecture.

While other models have been offered, such as Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND), they have considerable hurdles in explaining a wide range of data beyond galactic scales. MOND struggles to account for the universe's large-scale structure, cosmic microwave background radiation, and the separation of dark matter and ordinary matter observed in occurrences such as the Bullet Cluster collision.

The scientific consensus firmly supports the existence of dark matter in light of the enormous weight of evidence. Ongoing research, like particle accelerator experiments and observations with improved telescopes, is expanding our understanding of dark matter and its role in the universe's rich fabric.

Incorporating dark matter scientific theory into our understanding of the universe not only broadens our knowledge but also challenges our scientific techniques. We expand our understanding of the cosmos and uncover its mysteries via rigorous study and critical analysis. The presence of dark matter remains a tantalizing conundrum that motivates us to move ahead in our search for knowledge as we continue to explore the boundaries of science.

Works cited

Primary Sources:

Zwicky, F. (1933). Die Rotverschiebung von extragalaktischen Nebeln. Helvetica Physica Acta,6, 110-127.

Clowe, D., et al. (2006). A Direct Empirical Proof of the Existence of Dark Matter. The Astrophysical Journal, 648, L109-L113.

Planck Collaboration et al. (2020). Planck 2018 results. VI. Cosmological parameters. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 641, A6.

Rubin, V. C., Ford, W. K., & Thonnard, N. (1980). Rotational properties of 21 SC galaxies with a large range of luminosities and radii, from NGC 4605 (R=4kpc) to UGC 2885 (R=122kpc). The Astrophysical Journal, 238, 471.

Bullock, J. S., & Boylan-Kolchin, M. (2017). Small-scale challenges to the ΛCDM paradigm. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 55, 343-387.

Lelli, F., et al. (2017). One Law to Rule Them All: The Radial Acceleration Relation of Galaxies. The Astrophysical Journal, 836(2), 152.

Massey, R., et al. (2007). Dark matter maps reveal cosmic scaffolding. Nature, 445(7125), 286-290.

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Milgrom, Mordehai, and Jacob Bekenstein(1987). The Modified Newtonian Dynamics as an Alternative to Hidden Matter. Symposium - International Astronomical Union, vol. 117, 1987, pp. 319–333.

Secondary Sources:

Alam, S., et al. (2017). The clustering of galaxies in the completed SDSS-III Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey: cosmological analysis of the DR12 galaxy sample. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 470(3), 2617-2652.

Sanders, R. H., & McGaugh, S. S. (2002). Modified Newtonian dynamics as an alternative to dark matter. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 40, 263-317.

Bertone, G., Hooper, D., & Silk, J. (2005). Particle dark matter: Evidence, candidates and constraints. Physics Reports, 405(5-6), 279-390.

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