Seeing the Unseeable — Part III
Dark matter might be created at particle colliders, such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, a mammoth experiment that collides protons together at extremely high energies. Dark matter production is dark matter annihilation played backward: if dark matter can annihilate into normal particles, it can also be produced by the collisions of normal particles. The signature of dark matter production would be the observation of collisions in which energy and momentum seem to go missing, indicating that some unreactive particles have been produced and then escaped the detector without registering. These giant experiments, designed to tease out the secrets of the subatomic world, may wind up discovering the dominant form of matter in the universe.
Was it WIMPs or super-WIMPs that seeded the Universe?
Todd Johnson of Fermi Labs shows how Accelerators work using a ping pong ball and a bowl.
Out-Wimping the WIMPs
Recent developments in particle physics have uncovered other theoretically plausible dark matter candidates. This work hints that the WIMP is just the tip of the iceberg. Lurking under the surface could be hidden worlds, complete with their own matter particles and forces.

One such development is the concept of particles even more wimpy than WIMPs. Theory suggests that WIMPs formed in the first nanosecond of cosmic history might have been unstable. Seconds to days later they could have decayed to particles that have a comparable mass but do not interact by the weak nuclear force; gravity is their only connection to the rest of the natural world. Physicists, tongue in cheek, call them super-WIMPs.

The idea is that super-WIMPs constitute the dark matter of today's universe. Super-WIMPs would elude direct observational searches but might be inferred from the telltale imprint they would leave on the shapes of galaxies. When created, super-WIMPs would have been moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light. They would have taken time to come to rest, and galaxies could not have begun forming until then. This delay would have left less time for matter to accrete onto the centers of galaxies before cosmic expansion diluted it. The density at the center of dark matter halos should therefore reveal whether they are made of WIMPs or super-WIMPs; astronomers are now checking. In addition, the decay from WIMP to super-WIMP should have produced photons or electrons as a by-product, and these particles can smash into light nuclei and break them apart. There is some evidence that the universe has less lithium than expected, and the super-WIMP hypothesis is one way to explain the discrepancy.
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The Large Hadron Collider may be able to create dark matter by colliding two photon beams at ultra high energies. If any energy or momentum went missing after the collision, that would indicate that inert matter, or dark matter, had been produced.