This page is dedicated to the research on the physical properties of ultra-diluted gas. We propose a new physical model describing such gas and check its consequence. This model takes into account the quantum mechanical effects occurring at the level of individual gas particles. It turns out that such gas will have properties that are different from the ones predicted by the classical theories referring to the so-called ideal gas. One of the most interesting predictions is that such gas can be almost entirely transparent to light and do not react with other physical objects. At the same time, it retains its mass and therefore interacts gravitationally with other objects. Such properties make it an ideal candidate to be a component of Dark matter.
Below you will find a popular science description. If you are an experienced reader, you may refer directly to the papers.
What are the differences between this model and the classical ideal gas model? The ideal gas model assumes that individual particles (atoms or molecules) are independent of each other and look like small “balls”. The balls are in a continuous motion, very often bounce off one another, transferring energy and momentum to one another. Energies and momenta manifest statistically as temperature and pressure etc. In the new model, we have proposed that the particles should be modeled as independent wave functions, subject to the Schrödinger equation. So the particles look more like “clouds” than balls. In addition, these clouds are non-local objects, i.e., they simultaneously “occupy” all space. It is a bit unintuitive, but that is what quantum mechanics is like. The solution of the Schrödinger equation for a free particle tells us that such a cloud becomes more and more smeared over time. Namely, it looks as if it occupied an increasingly larger area. Still, at the same time, the likelihood of any reaction with it occurring in particular places within this area decreased. It is not surprising then that we have called this gas model: smeared gas.
I can’t see
The 300 years old Beer-Lambert law law classically describes the transparency (correct name transmittance) of a perfect gas cloud. In short: the more particles there are, the more light each of them absorbs, and the longer the path of light in the cloud, the less transparent the gas cloud is. You can check this by looking, for example, at a storm cloud or smoke coming out of a chimney. In the article, we demonstrate that the transparency of the smeared gas depends not only on these obvious parameters. It turns out that it also depends on the diameter of the detector we use (e.g., eye, binoculars, telescope, etc.). The smaller detector we use, the more transparent smeared gas becomes! This unobvious increase in transparency is greater the less often any reaction involving gas particles occurs: a photon absorption/emission or a collision with other particles.
Where is it?
Smeared gas is not to be found on Earth. The atmosphere is too dense, there is too much matter, gravitation is too strong, sunlight is too bright. But we have checked that appropriate conditions for spontaneous smearing of particles may exist in space. We have checked this for atomic hydrogen gas, respecting its density and the electromagnetic radiation of the galactic and extragalactic backgrounds (do not confuse with CMB). Hydrogen gas is important because it’s considered to be the most abundant component of interstellar matter.
Experiments, experiments, experiments!
A good physical theory should be falsifiable, and this one is. We proposed several experiments that can exclude or follow its predictions. Even more, we conducted one of such experiments . It involved testing the difference in transmittance measured simultaneously using two detectors with different diameters. We used an infrared laser shining through water vapor under very low pressure in a relatively large vacuum chamber. We are now preparing a new setup configuration. As for experimental physics, this experiment is relatively inexpensive and straightforward. It costs as much as a mid-range car and lasts no longer than several weeks. We are counting on other labs to conduct further experiments.
Why is this interesting? Undoubtedly, ultra-diluted gas is the most abundant form of matter in our Universe – at least in terms of volume but maybe also in terms of mass. The correct understanding of its behavior is critical for all cosmological models, many astrophysical theories, and most astronomical measurements. For example:
- The widely accepted ΛCDM cosmology, among others, relies on the Planck/BAO measurements of cosmological parameters. One of them is the optical depth τ. This particular parameter is constrained using classic transmittance models. It seems that this model is more appropriate there. As all (six) major ΛCDM parameters depend on each other, adjusting τ may change others. E.g., as a consequence, it may release the tension on the Hubble constant.
- The above is just an important example of a transmittance model being a part of the radiation transfer equation. The radiation transfer equation is an essential ingredient for countless physical models. The proper understanding of energy transfer can’t be overestimated. The following astrophysical phenomena depend on this equation, to name a few: galaxy formation, star formation, planetary systems formation, or Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect. E.g., the last one is a tool for measuring Universe expansion and Dark Energy impact.
- Predictions of the model surprisingly resemble Dark Matter requirements. There are dozens of DM experiments, millions of dollars spent, and hundreds of physicists involved. Current estimates by astrophysicists predict that there is approximately 5 times more “invisible” matter in space than the “ordinary” one. Perhaps it is the smeared gas that makes up the missing 85% of the mass of the Universe?
- Quantitative spectroscopy is one of the primary astronomical tools. The model shows how the size of the instrument affects a measurement outcome interpretation on scattering medium density. If the theory is valid, astronomers may need to reinterpreted some observations, e.g., regarding gas clouds mass, composition, etc. This is bold, but the transmittance equation underlies so many models.
- There is an entirely new prediction that a background radiation intensity may directly affect ultra-diluted gas density. If not only gravity affects density, many theories on cosmic structure formations need to be reevaluated.
- The model developed requires the full non-locality of wave functions. Potential experimental confirmation of the model will be an important voice in the discussion about the interpretations of quantum mechanics. In particular, we will exclude pilot wave type interpretations because they contradict the predictions of the rising transmittance of the smeared gas. See a video presentation.
What’s next? We are preparing the next experiment. We work on the smeared gas transmittance equation taking into account detectors of sizes comparable to the wavelength of incident light. This equation is required to carry out the fitting of the experimental data. We investigate astrophysical consequences of the model.
Stay in touch
On this website you will find articles describing the theory, information about the conducted experiment, the extra experiment data, answers to frequently asked questions or our gallery. See the Quantum 2020 conference short video presentation. Throw us questions: info [at] smearedgas.org.