The overwhelming observational evidence for the existence of dark matter is only matched by the awkward scarcity of information about what it might actually be. Laboratory searches for dark matter now appear to exclude many of the “weakly interacting massive particle” models that were favored by particle physicists for decades. Where does that leave the hunt for dark matter? If we’ve left the WIMP behind, what are we looking for?
We give a brief, biased, and largely fictional history of the WIMP in order to establish what has and has not been excluded, and why it matters.
This general-interest presentation grew out of discussions with astronomers who wanted to understand why some of their particle physics colleagues are “searching for WIMPs” while the others have decided to live in a “post-WIMP world”.