If Dragan Hajdukovic’s new theory is to be believed, dark matter is not merely invisible – it is totally nonexistent.
Dr. Hajdukovic, a scientist at the Large Hadron Collider nuclear research facility in Geneva, has published a new report which suggests that phenomena attributed to dark matter may actually be due to an effect known as ”gravitational polarization.”
The notion of dark matter was first introduced by Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in 1933 to explain his observations of the Coma Cluster of galaxies. Stronger gravitational fields cause galaxies to rotate more quickly, and more massive galaxies have stronger gravitational fields. So when Zwicky observed that the speeds in the Coma Cluster were far larger than could be accounted for by visible matter alone, he hypothesized the presence of large amounts of unseen matter, hence the term “dark matter.”
To date, the most widely accepted theory of dark matter holds that it is comprised of weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. These particles are detectable only through the gravitational effects they exert on the visible matter around them. The evidence would seem to suggest these dark matter particles tend to distribute themselves in massive halos surrounding their host galaxies.
But Hajdukovic is not entirely convinced. He has considered the alternative possibility that something other than dark matter is strengthening gravity in galaxies. His new theory reveals his suspected culprit – virtual pions.
Virtual pions are strange, unintuitive objects. They are comprised of a pair of subatomic particles, one made of matter and the other of antimatter. The pairs spontaneously come into being in the vacuum of space, only to annihilate each other (as all matter-antimatter pairs do) an instant later. However, as Hajdukovic argues, virtual pions may possess just the right set of properties to explain what scientists had previously ascribed to dark matter.
The argument relies on a simple, but untested premise – that matter and antimatter are gravitationally repulsive. If this is indeed the case, then as virtual pions emerge out of the cosmic vacuum, the matter particle will be gravitationally attracted toward the center of the galaxy while its antimatter companion will be repelled. Another way of saying this is that the pion will travel along the gravitational field while the antipion will travel against it. This separation in the presence of the galaxy’s gravitational field is referred to as “gravitational polarization.”
The key to Hajdukovic’s argument is this – as the virtual pions are polarized, they generate an incredibly tiny gravitational field between them pointing from the antipion to the pion. If all of space is comprised of these tiny pairs, then their net gravitational effect can be quite substantial, large enough in fact to explain the fast galactic rotation speeds without needing to rely on dark matter.
Despite the plausibility of the gravitational polarization explanation, the theory of dark matter has reached widespread acceptance for its ability to explain many different observations, not just the velocities of galaxies. Its presumed presence explains how galaxies bend light, how galaxy clusters heat gas in their centers, and even how galaxies are positioned the way that they are in the Universe.
Still, Hajdukovic offers a limited number of examples in which dark matter either cannot explain an observation or makes faulty predictions. In these cases he offers a plausible explanation using gravitational polarization.
Ultimately though, Hajdukovic’s argument depends upon the assumption that particles and their associated antiparticles have opposite gravitational masses, an idea that while not new, is highly controversial. Because virtual pairs tend to annihilate very quickly after being formed, performing experiments on them is exceptionally difficult. They are known to have opposite electrical charges, but because the electrical interactions are considerably stronger than gravitational ones, detecting the latter is currently beyond our capabilities.
The gravitational polarization idea also faces competition from other theories struggling for mainstream acceptance. One such is MOND, or Modified Newtonian dynamics, which suggests that the gravitational force depends on more than just mass. Another possibility involves hypothetical elementary particles known as axions, which would have been formed during the Big Bang and could currently be affecting galactic structure and rotations.
Hajdukovic says that “a lot of work” is still needed before his theory can graduate from being a mere possibility to a serious contender. For one, it would need to prove compatible with general relativity, Einstein’s well established theory of gravity which may well break down given Hajdukovic’s requirement of negative gravitational masses. He is willing to admit that there is a degree of conjecture in his work because as he says, “no one has any idea what the gravitational properties of the quantum vacuum are.”