New Study Significantly Narrows Search for Elusive Dark Matter Particles

Big Bang Dark Matter

Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that is believed to make up a large portion of the universe. It is called “dark” because it does not emit, absorb, or reflect light, and therefore cannot be directly detected with telescopes or other instruments that detect electromagnetic radiation. However, its presence can be inferred through its gravitational effects on visible matter, such as stars and galaxies. Scientists believe that dark matter may make up about 85% of the mass in the universe, and its existence is necessary to explain a number of observed phenomena, such as the rotational speeds of galaxies and the distribution of matter on a cosmic scale.

An international research team has made significant progress in the search for dark matter with the use of a precision experiment developed at the University of Bern.

Cosmological observations of the orbits of stars and galaxies have revealed that the gravitational forces acting between celestial bodies cannot be fully explained by the visible matter we can see. This suggests that there may be another, unknown type of matter influencing the movements and development of galaxies.

In 1933, Swiss physicist and astronomer Fritz Zwicky suggested the existence of dark matter, a type of matter that is not directly visible but can be detected through its gravitational effects. It is believed to make up about 85% of the mass in the universe and consists of approximately five times more mass than the visible matter we are familiar with.

Part of the Experimental Apparatus in the Laboratory in Bern

Part of the experimental apparatus in the laboratory in Bern with Ph.D. student Ivo Schulthess. Credit: F. Piegsa

Recently, following a precision experiment developed at the Albert Einstein Center for Fundamental Physics (AEC) at the University of Bern, an international research team succeeded in significantly narrowing the scope for the existence of dark matter. With more than 100 members, the AEC is one of the leading international research organizations in the field of particle physics. The findings of the team, led by Bern, have recently been published in the highly-regarded journal Physical Review Letters.

The mystery surrounding dark matter

“What dark matter is actually made of is still completely unclear,” explains Ivo Schulthess, a Ph.D. student at the AEC and the lead author of the study. What is certain, however, is that it is not made from the same particles that make up the stars, planet Earth or us humans. Worldwide, increasingly sensitive experiments and methods are being used to search for possible dark matter particles – until now, however, without success.

Ivo Schulthess

Ivo Schulthess, a Ph.D. student at the Albert Einstein Center for Fundamental Physics (AEC), University of Bern. Credit: I. Schulthess

Certain hypothetical elementary particles, known as axions, are a promising category of possible candidates for dark matter particles. An important advantage of these extremely lightweight particles is that they could simultaneously explain other important phenomena in particle physics that have not yet been understood.

The Bern experiment sheds light on the darkness

“Thanks to many years of expertise, our team has succeeded in designing and building an extremely sensitive measurement apparatus – the Beam EDM experiment,” explains Florian Piegsa, Professor for Low Energy and Precision Physics at the AEC, who was awarded one of the prestigious ERC Starting Grants from the European Research Council in 2016 for his research with neutrons. If the elusive axions actually exist, they should leave behind a characteristic signature in the measurement apparatus.

“Our experiment enables us to determine the rotational frequency of neutron spins, which move through a superposition of electric and magnetic fields,” explains Schulthess. The spin of each individual neutron acts as a kind of compass needle, which rotates due to a magnetic field similarly to the second hand of a wristwatch – but nearly 400,000 times faster. “We precisely measured this rotational frequency and examined it for the smallest periodic fluctuations which would be caused by the interactions with the axions,” explains Piegsa. The results of the experiment were clear: “The rotational frequency of the neutrons remained unchanged, which means that there is no evidence of axions in our measurement,” says Piegsa.

Parameter space successfully narrowed down

The measurements, which were carried out with researchers from France at the European Research Neutron Source at the Institute Laue-Langevin, allowed for the experimental exclusion of a previously completely unexplored parameter space of axions. It also proved possible to search for hypothetical axions which would be more than 1,000 times heavier than was previously possible with other experiments.

“Although the existence of these particles remains mysterious, we have successfully excluded an important parameter space of dark matter,” concludes Schulthess. Future experiments can now build on this work. “Finally answering the question of dark matter would give us a significant insight into the fundamentals of nature and take us a big step closer to a complete understanding of the universe,” explains Piegsa.

Reference: “New Limit on Axionlike Dark Matter Using Cold Neutrons” by Ivo Schulthess, Estelle Chanel, Anastasio Fratangelo, Alexander Gottstein, Andreas Gsponer, Zachary Hodge, Ciro Pistillo, Dieter Ries, Torsten Soldner, Jacob Thorne and Florian M. Piegsa, 4 November 2022, Physical Review Letters.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.129.191801

The research was funded by the European Research Council and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

16 Comments on "New Study Significantly Narrows Search for Elusive Dark Matter Particles"

  1. Howard Jeffrey Bender, Ph.D. | January 10, 2023 at 7:30 am | Reply

    They can narrow the search for Dark Matter all they want, but they’re looking in the wrong place.

    Another possibility, from a view of String Theory, is that Dark Matter appears to us as an effect of string/anti-string annihilations. As you may know, quantum mechanics requires that strings must be formed as pairs in the quantum foam – a string and an anti-string – that immediately annihilate each other. Quantum mechanics also requires both the string and anti-string to be surrounded by “jitters” that reduce their monstrous vibrating energies. What if this jitter remains for a fraction of an instant after their string/anti-string annihilations? This temporary jitter would be seen by us as matter, via E=mc2, for that instant before it too returns to the foam. That’s why we never see it – the “mass” lasts only for that instant but is repeated over and over and over, all over. Specifics on this can be found by searching YouTube for “Dark Matter – A String Theory Way”

  2. Charles G. Shaver | January 10, 2023 at 10:30 am | Reply

    Quit wasting so much time and money on beating the dead horse of dark matter. Rotation dramatically increases the pull of gravity lines of force being radiated from all cosmic objects. Start looking for what induces those gravity lines of force to radiate in the first place.

    • Fixed gravity for you. | January 10, 2023 at 11:46 am | Reply

      “… gravity lines of force … radiate”

      This terminology is a little confusing to me. For instance, no one says ocean currents follow “lines of force” although vector representations that could idiosyncratically be called “lines of force” can be used to describe ocean flows. In general, to be a good field energy accountant, the number of quantum flows, each abstractable as a flux line, defines the strength of the force collectively generated by the “lines” and this is because every line is of equal weighting in the balance.

      Coincidentally enough there’s a prof who studies gravity using pools of water and drains to simulate black holes.

      • Fixed gravity for you. | January 10, 2023 at 12:22 pm | Reply

        “… the number of quantum flows, each abstractable as a flux line, defines the strength of the force collectively generated …”

        … to continue my thought there with analogous quantum field example, the only way light flux is legitimately concentrated is by matter that generates lensing, so it’s not too much of a stretch to describe any concentrating of spin gravitational flux that could be used to explain DM filaments as a spin-based “gravitational focus” effect, in my opinion.

        The cooler a mass is, absent any other difference, the better it is at focusing gravity, I believe.

        Mass spin, as opposed to thermal mass chaos, can substitute for cooling to generate directional gravity focus. One might imagine nuclei flattening out and individually spinning in a collectively aligned way in the mass spin process.

        Omnidirectional maximal focus (omni-retro-reflection) exchanges of flux energy would require nuclei of a solid to be field generators conforming to something behaving like a cube-corner mirror octet lattice, in my opinion.

        • Charles G. Shaver | January 11, 2023 at 6:45 am | Reply

          Not too ‘Fixed,’ I hope, think of a wire with an electric current running through it; a field of electromagnetic force (EF) is induced along it’s length. Think of coiling that wire; a denser field of EF is more localized. Think of mounting that coil on a wheel and rotating that wheel close to another wheel of magnetic material mounted on the same axis; that other wheel will begin to rotate with the first one and/or stop with the first one. Think of cosmological objects as fat wheels within an ambient field of induced lines of gravity force that pulls in only one direction. My wheel experiments (e.g., “1Gravity” video on Odysee dot com/@charlesgshaver ) demonstrate that those lines of gravity force must be angular, because reversing rotation of the wheels also reverses the action. Help any?

          • Fixed gravity for you. | January 11, 2023 at 9:59 am |

            I prefer an answer in words only here, not asking for links. I’m not interested in gravity control experiments using any size of wheel spinning by electric currents, especially if the mapping from electromagnetism to gravity, which should be easily describable in words, is unclear.

            What you said is not helping me understand very much except you are using terminology reminiscent of quantum flux concepts (“lines of force”) while conceivably allowing individual lines to change the amount of pull they induce. One way to do that would be to use a MoND approach where expanding/thinning gravity flux lines at the edge of a galaxy apparently decide to stop thinning out on consequent increases in distance traveled, as if they can reproduce themselves, to maintain a stable population density. One question would then be whether the lines then travel in packs. Another would be can they hunt and decimate other flux concepts.

            “Rotation dramatically increases the pull of gravity lines of force being radiated from all cosmic objects.”

            You avoided using the word “focus” in your reply for reasons I cannot comprehend. Accordingly, I can’t see whether you agree with a single thing I said about flux lines.

            There are too many issues I see in the rest of it, it would take me many more comments to address them all and that is assuming you don’t start adding more comments.

            Not saying I won’t try though. Toward that, some physicists argue fields don’t require conforming field generators or field generators are beyond visualizable analysis, and this probably encourages people to think the universe is a hologram or simulation and run away from the field while screaming.

          • Fixed gravity for you. | January 11, 2023 at 10:17 am |

            “lines of gravity force must be angular, because reversing rotation of the wheels also reverses the action”

            Gravitational induction is not new, and it’s different from electric or magnetic induction and electro-magnetic induction. Are you predicting a new property of induction? Are you trying to say gravity flux can be concentrated (focused) along the polar axis (or turns axis or spin axis) and absent along the equatorial axis?

          • Fixed gravity for you. | January 11, 2023 at 10:40 am |

            “Not too ‘Fixed,’ I hope”

            Okay, that’s a sort of ambiguity-increasing comment on the anonymizing name I’d like to be able to use here without interference.

            One energy conserving thing about quantum vector fields is each quantum should be representable by a vector of a fixed length. Whether the vector can spin like an air molecule in the wind is not a question, conservation of momentum is not a question if it’s rotational momentum.

            I would sincerely encourage you to adapt an agreement to quantum flux concepts if you are going to avoid confusingly commenting on “gravity lines of force” as if you are analogizing them to magnetic flux. That way it won’t look excessively ambitious to me, as if you are discouraging anyone’s flux visualizations while encouraging the opposite and directing people to another website. My sincere apologies if I am identifying with too much consciousness of non-local effects.

          • Fixed gravity for you. | January 11, 2023 at 10:48 am |

            “Think of cosmological objects as fat wheels”

            Fat? How fat? How about greasy? Just kidding again. Interesting word choice. Thanks for never mentioning “holes.”

          • Fixed gravity for you. | January 11, 2023 at 11:11 am |

            I guess you could be using a magnetic field analogy where increasing the number of wire turns is like increasing the rate of spin, with consequent increase in spin effect. Seems profoundly inadequate to me, but I have difficulty conveying precisely how equatorial concentrations of induced gravity flows can affect galaxy evolution, because they involve substantial equatorial displacements in simple 2D retro-reflection, but please don’t let that discourage you, except maybe for the part about “fat” stuff.

  3. Charles, they are, it’s called the search for dark matter.

    • Charles G. Shaver | January 11, 2023 at 7:00 am | Reply

      Kindlin, I tend to think of it, now, as a ‘search for undeserved funding.’ It began somewhat understandably with repeated misinterpretations of the results of double-slit experiments. Pulsing lines of gravity force, not a small object switching back and forth from being a particle to a wave, is what creates the standard pattern. And, if you haven’t read me elsewhere, in time dilation experiments it’s the clock being forced (e.g., higher altitude and/or aboard a jet plane) to travel faster through ambient lines of gravity force, not time, that slows down. Help any?

      • Fixed gravity for you. | January 11, 2023 at 12:14 pm | Reply


        Seems like a way of impugning motive on anyone trying to suggest this “pulsing” could be like the ice field pulsations on a hockey puck. No, the puck does not “care” because it’s so big and flat and has its own beautiful and shapely “pulsations” to worry about. Any specific scale to these wonderful “pulses?” How about a string of pictures in super-thin frames depicting some lump of what maybe resembles a tiny BH surrounded by light, written in light-enveloped gravity, to replace “pulses” of gravity. I’m trying to turn bent space inside out on the complete size scale here, to keep it largely irrelevant and invisible and multidimensionally continuum-like while describing something as close as possible to a peaceful sunset with reflections off the waves.

        • Charles G. Shaver | January 12, 2023 at 10:00 am | Reply

          My apologies, Fixed gravity for you, but I don’t presently have the words to better explain myself and/or the enormous resources it would take to prove my lay findings. Unfortunately, we are all forced to make our limited observations from within a relatively dense field of solar and planetary lines of gravity force and the absolute proof, if it’s even possible to devise one, may need to be performed in deep space. As best as I can tell, for now, there are consistencies with coherent pulsating angular lines of gravity force and rotation that apply from the atomic to the galactic levels, with an apparent ‘Big Bang’ easily explaining why everything rotates, spins and/or spirals across the vastness of the universe. I, for one, will be casually open-mindedly monitoring the conversations for a better explanation. Thank you for the stimulating comments.

  4. Alan Reyes M.D. | January 11, 2023 at 10:57 am | Reply

    Or, the idea that 85% of all gravity comes from an otherwise undetectable substance that does not manifest below Galaxy level so does not appear in Newtonian scale equations was always vaporware.

  5. The misbehaving galaxies indicate the equations that bore those predictions are flawed.

    Ideal states are not useful. The inertial frame, absolute zero and perfect vacuum are all such unobserved states that represent holes in the logic of the math. We have not stopped time for an inertial frame, we have not stopped the motion of atoms for absolute zero, and we have not reduced the mass of a vessel or space to zero. These are weaknesses in the math that need to be addressed or there will be no progress. The entire foundations of physics are built on nonsense, got you looking for wormholes and time travel remove the fantasy remove the ideal states… get your heads out of the clouds stop blindly following the math and use your brains

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