Thursday, December 05, 2013

Dark matter \(0.11\meV\) axion discovered in 2004 via Josephson junctions

Or at least some deviation may be interpreted in this remarkable way!

Two days ago, Nude Socialist's Katia Moskvitch (yes, it was a Soviet car) wrote an unusually useful article promoting a September 2013 hep-ph preprint by Christian Beck (Cambridge and London; a twin brother of Glenn Beck who is also a Christian, after all, both Mormon and Roman Catholic one) that we apparently missed:
Hints of cold dark matter pop up in 10-year-old circuit (NS)

Possible resonance effect of axionic dark matter in Josephson junctions (arXiv, free)
The probable reason why Nude Socialist managed to notice this interesting paper is that they may follow all papers in PRL where the paper appeared on Monday. And it seems very interesting, indeed.

Note that dark matter, if it exists at all and astrophysical observations make it extremely likely that it does, is almost certainly composed of a new kind of particles. WIMPs and axions are the leading candidates. Supersymmetric theories have a natural WIMP candidate – the lightest superpartner, the LSP – but it hasn't been observed directly although it could have.

String theory implies that the world is supersymmetric at some level so it naturally allows WIMPs. However, the axions are at least comparably natural from the string theory's viewpoint. They're extremely light but massive, extremely weakly (more weakly than WIMPs!) interacting bosons that couple to the "instanton density" of Yang-Mills gauge groups, sort of. String theory may imply a whole zoo of them, the "axiverse".

Now, return to 1962. Brian Josephson who was 22 years old (or young) predicted the Josephson effect in superconductors.

On December 12th, 1973, when a certain physics blogger was exactly 1 week old ;-), Brian Josephson picked his Nobel prize for the prediction. That honor hasn't prevented Josephson from becoming a complete lunatic and the president of the Mind-Matter Unification Project that endorses any supernatural and paranormal phenomenon that you imagine. I've corresponded with him after he wrote an enthusiastic review of an ESP crackpot book and be sure that the exchange hasn't qualitatively differed from the exchanges with supernatural cranks who belong to the broader TRF community. So yes, Uncle Al, Peter Fred, and others, you are about as sharp as a Nobel prize winner. ;-)

The Josephson effect is the phenomenon of current that runs through superconductors indefinitely and without any applied voltage. For certain reasons, something must be sandwiched between two superconducting plates so the Josephson effect either deals with S-N-S or S-I-S or S-c-S where S,N,I,s stand for superconductor, normal metal, insulator, and physical conStriction, respectively. The phase difference across the junction is what determines the current. The phenomenon shows how the wave function of the Cooper pairs is promoted to a classical field (because there are many of them) that has spectacular macroscopic consequences. You should study it elsewhere, for example in the 20-minute video below:

Beck proposes that the normal Josephson sandwiches are affected by the axion (due to its assumed couplings to the normal electromagnetic field) if the Josephson frequency is tuned to the axion mass in the \(\hbar=c=1\) units. A signal should be generated. Why is it so? You are invited to read the paper.

At any rate, the required condensed matter experiment was actually done – without any thinking about cosmology whatsoever – in 2004 in
Mesoscopic transition in the shot noise of diffusive S/N/S junctions (cond-mat arXiv)
by Hoffmann and 3 co-authors. And they found a signal somewhere!

In 2013 Beck, exploiting his cute new idea, may interpret the signal as an evidence for an axion whose mass would be know spectacularly accurately:\[

m_{\rm axion} = 0.11\meV/c^2.

\] Assuming his picture is right, Beck may also determine the mass/energy density of this dark matter axions in the Earth's vicinity:\[

\rho = 0.05\frac{\GeV}{{\rm cm}^3}.

\] That's pretty cool. If you divide the numbers, you will realize that there should be about half a trillion of axions in each cubic centimeter between your face and your computer display. Further confirmations of this theory, if it is correct, could be soon provided by the ADMX experiment at University of Washington.

Meanwhile, I encourage all numerologists who visit TRF to explain why the axion mass is the number above. To kickstart the imagination, note that the mass is of the same order as the lightest neutrino (squared) mass splittings. It is of the same order as the fourth root of the cosmological constant (expressed as an energy density), too.


  1. Hi Lubos,

    This is off topic and you are probobly already aware of it, but I came across this site that monitors retractions of science papers:



  2. Very nice article, as always..
    Happy Birthday,Bud !

    Learning is like a boundless sea, only diligence can reach the shore....

  3. Brian Josephson like robert lanza believe life create universe not other way around.

  4. Óscar Santiago GómezDec 5, 2013, 8:35:00 PM

    Happy Birthday dear Lubos.

  5. Do the arithmetic, Luboš. Dark matter is 5.47 times visible baryonic mass (Planck): summed sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, asteroids, Jupiter, Saturn. The sun masses 1.989×10^30 kg, those planets mass 2.48×10^27 kg; 1.99×10^30 kg total implies 1.1×10^31 kg dark matter within that volume. Saturn's semi-major orbital axis is 1,433,449,370 km.

    [(4)(pi)/3][(1,433,449,370 km)(100,000 cm/km)]^3 = 1.23×10^43 cm^3

    (1.23×10^43 cm^3)(0.05 GeV/cm^3) (1.6022×10^(-10) J/GeV)(1.1127×10^(-17) kg/J) = 1.1×10^15 kg dark matter. Not even wrong.

    Earth's semi-major orbital radius is 149,598,261 km

    [(4)(pi)/3][(149,598,261 km)(100,000 cm/km)]^3 = 1.40×10^40 cm^3

    (1.40×10^40 cm^3)(0.05 GeV/cm^3) (1.6022×10^(-10) J/GeV)(1.1127×10^(-17) kg/J) = 1.25×10^12 kg dark matter. Not even wronger.

    "So yes, Uncle Al..." Run the geometric
    Eötvös experiment in alpha-quartz. If it nulls, I'll send you a bottle of Lagavulin single malt scotch and apologize. If it does not null, I'll embrace your jibe at face value.

  6. Happy 40th birthday Lubos! Turning 40 years of age is often regarded to be one of the big birthdays but may I ask, do you celebrate such an arbitrarily chosen day and if so, how do you celebrate it?

  7. Yes- Rossby waves and here on Earth it is similar if the projection is polar. So in 3d it will look different. Just a game of projections

  8. Brian Josephson is well-known to be a fool. With a Nobel prize but a fool after all (that's the reason why he's still at Cavendish btw).


  10. Happy Birthday Lubos!

  11. Hi Lubos. Sorry for contacting you about an unrelated matter (don't have other way). Have you seen the recent preprint 1308.4892? What do you think about it?

  12. I'm sure he must be a fool to dare and say something like this when atheist and materialist scientist are out there to rip you apart but anyone that study quantum mechanics know that observer is fundamental element.

  13. OT:


    Mandela's dead.

    Batten down the hatches. It's going to get like the Diana emote fest — we'll never hear the end of it.


    I suppose a possible upside is that if people like Girlyboy Bliar of the lithpy quivering lip are tempted to make speeches in public about their favourite diversoid (guaranteed), then maybe others will have been sufficiently provoked by now to gun them down in public too.

    Now let us all be good girls and boys and write to Santa:

    Dear Santa,

    Please, please, please bring all those bastards that special Breivik moment for Christmas.

    Thank you.

  14. Thanks for explaining this very cute finding (should open the paper because I'd like to see the LaTex of it a bit too), and a heartily Happy Birthday from me too :-)

    I wish that the axion will be confirmed in the future as a nice Birthday present for you.

    I am very happy and honored to know you (from afar ;-) ...) and highly appreciate it to be able to learn and have fun here on TRF with you and others.
    Last Saterday I was made aware in the context of a less happy event, that all nice people one has the pleasure to meet should be considered as a precious gift, so dear Lumo the day when you arrived here on earth is a day to celebrate indeed :-)!

    Cheeeeers !

  15. When the cavity's resonant frequency is tuned to the axion mass, the interaction between nearby axions in the Milky Way halo and ADMX's magnetic field is enhanced. This results in the deposit of a very tiny amount of power (less than a yoctowatt) into the cavity. ADMX Experiment

    I thought maybe quote might help hone in on measure? Noticed my site not up dating in your feeds.


  16. Your elegant theoretic exposition, applied to dark matter content Earth's orbit and inward, is measured low by a factor of 8.810^18, as my arithmetic shows below. I'm not the only one who calls it crap empirically falsified,

  17. I incidentally fell on an article a few weeks ago, that might help you to understand this phenomenon.

  18. Uncle Al, the ratio of dark to baryonic matter has been measured at the scale of large numbers of stars and not in the close vicinity of the Sun, as previously discussed on TRF. That still doesn't explain the full discrepancy, but one may still suppose other effects: the suns radiation might over billions of years clear out the axions in its vicinity, there may be additional types of axions, and the paper might be overestimating the strength of the interaction.

  19. Welll, I will mostly ignoring it and that's it. He's been influential, especially in his homeland, so it's common sense that his death is hyped.

    At 95 and after long-time problems, death is no shocking event really. And most of the comments that he was forgiving everything are bizarre. All the people who were trying to hurt him have really helped him something that turned out to be a spectacular career - I would say a much better one than what he would have if he didn't undergo some suffering. So it was a good deal for him, no wonder that he was satisfied.

  20. Indeed, a most happy birthday to you, Lubos. You are certainly the cause of much happiness in others, for which we are grateful. What a guide!

  21. “A Global Symbol of Peace and Justice”.

    Or so says today’s headline in the Wall Street Journal.

    In my case, however, this brings back the following anecdote about that other symbol of peace, justice (of course) and kindness, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Here is the story.

    “Lenin's widow, Krupskaya was telling a class of Soviet schoolchildren what a kind man Lenin had been.
    "One day ", she said, "he was standing outside his dacha shaving himself with a bowl of water and an open razor. A little boy came to watch him and asked him what he was doing. "I'm, shaving little boy", Lenin said.
    "Why did that make Lenin a kind man?" asked one of the class.
    “Because he had a razor in his hand and could have made use of it but he only answered the little brat’s question!”.

    Mandela also did not make use of the “razor” and that is why he is such a great symbol of peace, justice and kindness.

  22. I have an anecdote concerning Michel Rocard. He came to my university where I was a student, and he asked a South Corean who was questioning him on his socialist view of the world: are you from south or north Corea ? The young man told him "what do you think (idiot), I wouldn't be here if I was from the North"... Everybody looked at Rocard who felt really embarrassed. Lol. Rocard is an ass. However he recently said that if France used fracking we would have a huge opportunity to be energetically independent "like Qatar with their oil".

  23. I haven't heard about this "forgiving" business and so can't really comment on that. But I did hear, years ago, that "some" or "many" black South Africans had vowed to let Whitey live while Mandela lived, but to "kill them all" as soon as he died.

    Unlike some ANC politicians who are out-and-out racists and instigators, Mandela genuinely liked (some) white people and this may have been his way of performing a final service for his troubled nation.

  24. Rayleigh Bernard convection?

  25. Happy Birthday Lubos! Enjoy!

  26. Lubos writes "So yes, Uncle Al, Peter Fred, and others, you are about as sharp as a Nobel prize winner."

    They do not give out the Nobel Prize on Lubos' birthday but auspiciously they give it out on mine which is December 10th. And they should. But they wont. This idea that "the radiation leaving mass is gravitationally attractive" is too far-reaching and too disturbing to contemplate for those who have spent years espousing the strange idea of the principle of equivalence. General Relativity rest on this bizarre idea and the notion that mass possesses some unexplained ability to warp space. It is this unquestioned faith in the mysterious powers of mass that the dark matter and dark energy hunters going on for years with very little to show for it. If the application of heat to a ~0.5 kg test mass can change its weight by 9% (47 gm), then this kind of result which also has been observed A Dmtriev and PE Shaw raises serious questions about the remarkably imaginative idea of the principle of equivalence.

  27. If you want to dive down a rabbit hole look up "Hydrodynamic and Hydromagnetic Stability" by Chandrasekhar. For staters he derives triangular, square, and hexagonal patterns for Rayleigh Benard convection. There are other chapters on rotating fluid systems.

  28. Thanks for pointing this out. I notice that there is a 2010 article which points to this mass range for axion/axion cold dark matter.
    It is not clear yet to me much the exclusion curves and predictions are affected by the LHC Higgs mass being now known and by the negative searches. But from what I so far have had a chance to skim it looks like they are suggesting that looking for axions and their axions at this energy range would solve the question why QCD does not show CP symmetry breaking although it requires fine tuning in EW heirarchy problem. I don't know enough nor have I had enough time to digest this all.
    The article advocates more resources to such relic axion searches so it is kind of cool to think that this could be already shown.

  29. Thanks to you - and others! It clearly *has* been studied.

  30. You are a real crackpot's crackpot, aren't you? I can see that Uncle Al and the others have a good reason to feel aggrieved to see their names listed along with yours.

  31. There are degrees of crackpotism, lucretius. On a 1-10 crackpot scale where would you put Peter Fred?

  32. I think you need two scales: one for lunacy and one for dumbness. Josephson is close to the top for lunacy but he is not dumb. Peter Fred seems to be the other way round.

  33. I do not know what to say. The only think I can come up with is that quote at the end of A. Pickering's book, "Constructing Quarks" :
    "The lofty simplicity of nature is all too often left unlofty simplicity of the one who thinks he sees it."
    I do know whether quarks do or do not exists.. But I do know that I have at least five pictures of experiments where there is a observed
    relationship temperature change and weight
    change. Below is a picture of an experiment that is rather graphical. It is my hope when you are outside at dawn and the sun's light starts to warm up your face, this picture of an experiment will start you
    thinking of the possibility that that warming light might be gravitationally attractive.

  34. Ts ts. You are evidently too limited to grasp the truth of what PF is proclaiming, namely that at the end of every ray of light, there is a little hand that grasps and holds. Even the Egyptians knew that!

  35. Now Prof. Josephson, on the other hand...

    Abstract: The problem of how life came into existence is a major challenge for
    biology. I shall argue for an explanation involving the idea that a more
    elementary form of life, not dependent on matter, existed prior to the
    big bang, and evolved at the level of ideas in the same way that human
    societies evolve at the level of ideas. Just as human society discovered
    how to use matter in a range of technological applications, the
    hypothesised life before the big bang discovered how to organise energy
    to make physical universes, and to make fruitful use of the matter
    available in such universes. In addition, our various creative abilities
    are in part expressions of aspects of this original life.

    Hmmm... I''m pretty sure that if there are any authors of science fiction left who are not moonlighting college professors, they are biting into the edge of their kitchen tables out of frustration that they did not come up with the idea first. Then again, it sounds like something from the "golden age" hard sci-fi (the 1940s), which would make it not even original.

  36. Clever lunatics like Josephson are actually the most dangerous kind (unless they stick to writing science fiction of something of this kind) because they gather followers (much dumber than themselves but also lunatic). They become gurus, founders or sects, religious prophets etc. On the other hand, poor Peter Fred will always remain alone: I doubt that he could even make a follower out of a bright 11 year old.

  37. Here you have a 2011 paper which is exactly on topic :
    Unfortunately it is behind the paywall but it explains how polygonal shapes arise from rotationally symmetrical flow solutions. The same was done (I seem to remember) for hurrican eye walls etc.

  38. Even Israel may be able to achieve this. Refusal to frack is a fools' filosofy. >;p

  39. There's one overwhelming fact which may yet undermine the anti-human push: the wealthiest nations take best care of their environments (because they can afford it, and they prefer to do so).
    Eco-hectoring is pointless.

  40. "I've corresponded with him after he wrote an enthusiastic review of an
    ESP crackpot book and be sure that the exchange hasn't qualitatively
    differed from the exchanges with supernatural cranks who belong to the
    broader TRF community."

    Sigh.This from a person whose knowledge of ESP derives from watching TV shows. At least Prof. J has seen the future, however unclearly. The rest are still in the 20th century.

  41. “The hexagonal jet stream is acting like a barrier, which results in something like Earth's Antarctic ozone hole,” Kunio Sayanagi, a Cassini imaging team associate at Hampton University in Virginia, said in the statement.

    Mofo owes me a royalty. And nice of the Cassini team to catch up with reality, five years after.