Elusive dark matter may be detected with GPS satellites

November 17, 2014
This two-clocks-illustration shows the pattern of how two atomic clocks would desynchronize and then resynchronize due to a lump of dark matter sweeping through a Global Positioning System or other atomic clock based network. Credit: Andrei Derevianko, University of Nevada, Reno.

The everyday use of a GPS device might be to find your way around town or even navigate a hiking trail, but for two physicists, the Global Positioning System might be a tool in directly detecting and measuring dark matter, so far an elusive but ubiquitous form of matter responsible for the formation of galaxies.

Andrei Derevianko, of the University of Nevada, Reno, and his colleague Maxim Pospelov, of the University of Victoria and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, have proposed a method for a search with GPS satellites and other atomic clock networks that compares times from the clocks and looks for discrepancies.

"Despite solid observational evidence for the existence of dark matter, its nature remains a mystery," Derevianko, a professor in the College of Science at the University, said. "Some research programs in particle physics assume that dark matter is composed of heavy-particle-like matter. This assumption may not hold true, and significant interest exists for alternatives."

"Modern physics and cosmology fail dramatically in that they can only explain 5 percent of mass and energy in the universe in the form of , but the rest is a mystery."

There is evidence that dark energy is about 68 percent of the mystery mass and energy. The remaining 27 percent is generally acknowledged to be dark matter, even though it is not visible and eludes direct detection and measurement.

"Our research pursues the idea that dark matter may be organized as a large gas-like collection of topological defects, or energy cracks," Derevianko said. "We propose to detect the defects, the dark matter, as they sweep through us with a network of sensitive . The idea is, where the clocks go out of synchronization, we would know that dark matter, the topological defect, has passed by. In fact, we envision using the GPS constellation as the largest human-built dark-matter detector."

Quantum physicist Andrei Derevianko of the University of Nevada, Reno has contributed to the development of several novel classes of atomic clocks and now is proposing using networks of synchronized atomic clocks to detect dark matter. His paper on the topic is published in the journal Nature Physics. Credit: University of Nevada, Reno

Their research was well-received by the scientific community when the theory was presented at renowned scientific conferences this year, and their paper on the topic appears today in the online version of the scientific journal Nature Physics, ahead of the print version.

Derevianko is collaborating on analyzing GPS data with Geoff Blewitt, director of the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory, also in the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Geodetic Lab developed and maintains the largest GPS data processing center in the world, able to process information from about 12,000 stations around the globe continuously, 24/7.

The two are starting to test the dark matter detection ideas by analyzing clock data from the 30 GPS satellites, which use atomic clocks for everyday navigation. Correlated networks of atomic clocks such as the GPS and some ground networks already in existence, can be used as a powerful tool to search for the topological defect dark matter where initially synchronized clocks will become desynchronized. The time discrepancies between spatially separated clocks are expected to exhibit a distinct signature.

Blewitt, also a physicist, explained how an array of atomic clocks could possibly detect dark matter.

"We know the dark matter must be there, for example, because it is seen to bend light around galaxies, but we have no evidence as to what it might be made of," he said. "If the dark matter were not there, the normal matter that we know about would not be sufficient to bend the light as much as it does. That's just one of the ways scientists know there is a massive amount of dark matter somewhere out there in the galaxy. One possibility is that the dark matter in this gas might not be made out of particles like normal matter, but of macroscopic imperfections in the fabric of space-time.

"The Earth sweeps through this gas as it orbits the galaxy. So to us, the gas would appear to be like a galactic wind of dark matter blowing through the Earth system and its satellites. As the dark matter blows by, it would occasionally cause clocks of the GPS system to go out of sync with a tell-tale pattern over a period of about 3 minutes. If the dark matter causes the clocks to go out of sync by more than a billionth of a second we should easily be able to detect such events."

Explore further: On the hunt for dark matter

More information: The paper can be found here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphys3137.

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16 comments

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PhineasFogg
1 / 5 (11) Nov 17, 2014
"Modern physics and cosmology fail dramatically in that they can only explain 5 percent of mass and energy in the universe in the form of ordinary matter, but the rest is a mystery."

There is evidence that dark energy is about 68 percent of the mystery mass and energy. The remaining 27 percent is generally acknowledged to be dark matter, even though it is not visible and eludes direct detection and measurement.
Once again, these figures are quoted as fact, when in reality they are derived from the application of discredited laws of gravity to observations.
LagomorphZero
5 / 5 (12) Nov 17, 2014
Hardly quoted as fact considering they start the sentence with: "There is evidence that"
imido
Nov 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
imido
Nov 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
imido
Nov 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
vlaaing peerd
not rated yet Nov 18, 2014
well, I get that a GPS can work as a time dilation amplifier as even the smallest time dilation gets amplified by distance in meters on earth.

But it will still not detect DM, just the extra gravity it accounts for and this is what we know already.
Benni
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 18, 2014
.......... just the extra gravity it accounts for and this is what we know already.


.........No, it doesn't even do this because it has only been ASSUMED that undetected matter is the source of the "presumed speeds" of galactic rotation & "lensing effects" we observe, the gravity itself cannot be measured with mechanical detection devices so it ican only be presumed such gravity exists. Mind you that Einstein predicted & calculated gravitational lensing in his GR field equations using only the mass of observable matter, he did this long before anyone started hypothesizing this Trekkie funny farm science DM stuff.
Benni
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 18, 2014
......and there they are "saposjoint", "Ira" casting their one star rage votes, the usual funny farm science buffs who never saw an Einstein field equation they could solve but who know all about why he was wrong using their mathless perpetual motion science.
Mike_Massen
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 18, 2014
imido claimed
In my theory this dark matter is responsible for heating of oceans and global warming.
Then your "idea" is debunked by evidence deep oceans (below ~2Km) havent warmed.

AND there are no hotspots on land correlated with thinner crust which (should) have higher long wave (LW) radiation, unless U have some evidence to support this ?

We have known for >100 yrs thermal properties of main greenhouse gases ie CO2, H2O & evidence H2O water vapour has also increased on average in the atmosphere riding upon CO2; measured, verified & never refuted. Please then answer this question:-

"How can adding a greenhouse gas to the atmosphere such as CO2 with known thermal properties of IR LW re-radiation NOT increase thermal resistivity ?"

Have U worked how how much energy your dark matter heating "idea" requires AND how it bypasses deep oceans to ONLY heat upper layers & atmosphere over the last 100 years or so ?

theory requires evidence, U had a failed idea :-(
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (7) Nov 20, 2014
"Modern physics and cosmology fail dramatically in that they can only explain 5 percent of mass and energy in the universe in the form of ordinary matter, but the rest is a mystery."

There is evidence that dark energy is about 68 percent of the mystery mass and energy. The remaining 27 percent is generally acknowledged to be dark matter, even though it is not visible and eludes direct detection and measurement.
Once again, these figures are quoted as fact, when in reality they are derived from the application of discredited laws of gravity to observations.
What "discredited laws of gravity?"
Firgoose
5 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2014
[dark matter might be] macroscopic imperfections in the fabric of space-time.

I hereby name this phenomenon "dark potholes". ;o)
liquidspacetime
1 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2014
There is evidence of dark matter every time a double slit experiment is performed; it's what waves.
liquidspacetime
1 / 5 (7) Nov 21, 2014
Aether has mass. Aether physically occupies three dimensional space. Aether is physically displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.

The Milky Way's halo is not a clump of stuff anchored to the Milky Way. The Milky Way is moving through and displacing the aether.

The Milky Way's halo is the state of displacement of the aether.

The Milky Way's halo is the deformation of spacetime.

What is referred to geometrically as the deformation of spacetime physically exists in nature as the state of displacement of the aether.

A moving particle has an associated aether displacement wave. In a double slit experiment the particle travels through a single slit and the associated wave in the aether passes through both.

Q. Why is the particle always detected traveling through a single slit in a double slit experiment?
A. The particle always travels through a single slit. It is the associated wave in the aether which passes through both.
russell_russell
5 / 5 (3) Nov 22, 2014
Q.Are you willing to abandon absolute frames of reference?
A. No.
@liquidspacetime

Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2014
Aether has mass. Aether physically occupies three dimensional space. Aether is physically displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.
@liquidspacetime
aether has also been falsified with the following study: http://exphy.uni-...2009.pdf

so you are promoting PSEUDOSCIENCE
science buffs who never saw an Einstein field equation they could solve but who know all about why he was wrong
@benni-tardi
1- i've never seen Sapo, et al say Einstein was wrong
2- i've seen you make conjectures (like above) but you NEVER supply evidence of your own conclusions (no references=BS conjecture)
3- mainstream science is not funny farm science (which Sapo, et al, suport)

If you aint linking science (from reputable peer rerviewed sources), you is promoting pseudoscience
Selena
Nov 26, 2014
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