Shadows of two failed searches loom over physics | Science News


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Shadows of two failed searches loom over physics

There were no detections of dark matter particles this year and no signs of supersymmetry

5:30am, December 13, 2016
searching for dark matter

DOUBLE DARKNESS  The failure to detect dark matter particles suggests scientists might need new strategies for unlocking the secrets of the cosmos.

Scientists, like athletes, are obsessed with experiencing the thrill of victory. Just as they fear the agony of defeat. And in the wide world of science, thrills make news much more often than the agony. Winners get the publicity, losers can’t get published.

But sometimes the defeats deserve to make news too, especially when highly publicized experiments fail in their quest. Data reported in 2016 have forced physicists to face the prospect of just such a failure — not once, but twice. Dark matter, supposedly the most abundant form of mass in the cosmos, declines to show up in devices designed to detect it. And it refuses to appear in experiments constructed to make it.

For decades, physicists specializing in subatomic particles have expected to find an entirely new species of matter, a type never seen on Earth, swarming throughout the vastness of space. Galaxies rotate too rapidly and clump too closely if the only source of gravitational force

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