Could dark matter particles the size of galaxies exist, or a anti-gravitational force field we call “dark energy” that might be getting stronger and denser, leading to a future in which atoms are ripped apart and time ends?
“Inconveniently, dark matter is “dark” in the sense that it hardly interacts with anything, particularly with light. Apparently, in some scenarios it could have a slight effect on light waves passing through. But other scenarios predict no interactions at all between our world and dark matter, other than those mediated by gravity. This would make its particles very hard to find,” says Sergey Troitsky, chief researcher at the Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“There are no laws of physics,” observed Robbert Dijkgraaf, mathematical physicist and director of the Institute for Advanced Study, where Einstein spent his last 22 years. Instead, he observes, there is a terrifying complex “landscape” of possibilities, a nearly infinite, subtly connected network of complementary versions of reality each with its own set of fundamental particles, forces, laws and dimensions.”
By the end of this century, says astrophysicist Martin Rees, we should be able to ask whether or not we live in a multiverse, and how much variety of the laws of physics its constituent ‘universes’ display. The answer to this question, says Rees, “will determine how we should interpret the ‘biofriendly’ universe in which we live (sharing it with any aliens with whom we might one day make contact).”
From the afterglow of the Big Bang, to the world’s premier particle accelerators to mystery particles beaming up from the South Pole, physicists are chasing down promising hints of new phenomena that would extend the standard model — a remarkably successful but incomplete physics theory that describes matter and forces.