Are Axions Dark Matter?

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What does the strong nuclear force, the fundamental symmetries of nature, and a laundry detergent have in common? They’re all important parts of the tale of the axion – a tale whose end may take us beyond the standard model and solve one of the most vexing mysteries in astrophysics.

Hosted by Matt O’Dowd
Written by Matt O’Dowd & Graeme Gossel
Graphics by Leonardo Scholzer & Adriano Leal
Post Production: Yago Ballarini, Max Willians, Pedro Osinski
Directed by: Andrew Kornhaber
Executive Producers: Eric Brown & Andrew Kornhaber

The story of the axion is a classic physics tale: intrepid scientists delve deep into trackless mathematics in search of answers to a mystery. And there, against all expectations, they find the hint of a completely new and unexpected denizen of the natural world. In this case the mystery was a subtle inconsistency in the behavior of the fundamental forces. And the unexpected discovery? A brand new particle – the axion – which, while not proven to exist, may explain a much more famous conundrum. The axion may explain dark matter.

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