Roads may soon diverge in the dark matter wood, and some physicists want to take the ones less travelled.
The most promising candidate for a dark matter particle could be about to show itself at last, as it is running out of places to hide. But should the hunters fail to bag one of these WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles, the search for dark matter could be thrown into crisis.
At a meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last week, researchers debated the best paths forward into the wilder landscape of less-favoured candidates, from alternate particles to changes to our theory of gravity.
"It's really refreshing," says Lisa Randall at Harvard University. "For years I went to conferences where people said, 'We know what dark matter is and we're just cutting out the parameter space'. I thought that was strange, because we really don't know what dark matter is."
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