Dark Matter & Modified Gravity Conference

February 6, 2019 - February 8, 2019
Institute for Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology, RWTH Aachen University

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SuperC Building

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  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Bonn
University of Edinburgh
Princeton University (PhD)
Rochester Institute of Technology
Johns Hopkins University


Universität Bonn
University of Bonn
Complutense University of Madrid

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Interdisciplinary perspectives on the underdetermination between dark matter & modified gravity

Astrophysical and cosmological observations as well as explanatory gaps in the Standard Model of particle physics imply the existence of Dark Matter and/or a modification of our theory of space and time. A decision between the Dark Matter (DM) and Modified Gravity (MG) approaches is hampered by problems of underdetermination at different levels and of different kinds. The plethora of Dark Matter and Modified Gravity approaches, and the corresponding underdetermination, even in the light of the vast amount of relevant collider based and astrophysical observations, clearly illustrates the complexity of this scientific problem. On the other hand, the overlap of the collider and astrophysical domains may allow for reducing the underdetermination, thus leading to a simplification of the model landscape. One focus of this conference is Dark Matter searches at the Large Hadron Collider and the connection between LHC results and theories of gravity. We will address the question of different kinds of underdetermination, both in choosing between the two research programs of Dark Matter and Modified Gravity, and also in choosing between different models within each program. In particular, we aim to provide an assessment of the explanatory power and the explanatory gaps of the Dark Matter and Modified Gravity hypotheses, and the extent to which these might reduce the issues of underdetermination.

Research topics include, but are not limited to:

-Is a strict conceptual distinction between DM and MG justified? How does this relate to the distinction between matter and spacetime?

-What are the explanatory successes and failures of the DM research programme, and of the MG research programme? Which models of explanation are being employed by the respective programmes, and how do those relate?

-Sociology of the DM-MG debate

-How do data, constraints and explanations at the LHC, in astrophysics and cosmology relate? Could the LHC, in principle, confirm dark matter by itself?

-Virtues and vices of simplified (dark matter) models. Do simplified models explain?

-Hybrid models, fifth forces & exotic theories that are neither MG nor DM

-Connections between dark energy and DM/MG

-Novel predictions, fine-tuning and falsifiability

Confirmed Speakers


Tessa Baker, University of Oxford (UK)

Lasha Berezhiani, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (Germany)

Felix Kahlhoefer, RWTH Aachen University (Germany)

Julien Lesgourgues, RWTH Aachen University (Germany)

Stacy McGaugh, Case Western Reserve University (USA)

Mordehai Milgrom, Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel)

Tobias Mistele, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (Germany)

Robert Sanders, University of Groningen (The Netherlands)


Erik Curiel, Black Hole Initiative, Harvard University (USA)

Michela Massimi, University of Edinburgh (UK)

Niels Martens, RWTH Aachen University (Germany)

David Merritt, Rochester Institute of Technology (USA)

Robert Rynasiewicz, Johns Hopkins University (USA)


Jeroen van Dongen, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Jaco de Swart, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)


The organising committee invites participants from physics and from philosophy, history and sociology of physics/science, as well as anyone else who may be interested. In order to register for this conference, please email your name and affiliation to [email protected] by 13 January 2019. Registration is free. (Note that the deadline for abstract submissions has passed.)

Organisation & Contact

This conference is organized by the project “LHC and Gravity” within the interdisciplinary, DFG-funded research unit “Epistemology of the LHC”. For further information, see the conference website:www.lhc-epistemologie.uni-wuppertal.de/dm-mg,

or contact the organisers:

-Niels Martens (RWTH Aachen University) [email protected]

-Dennis Lehmkuhl (University of Bonn) [email protected]

-Michael Krämer (RWTH Aachen University) [email protected]

-Erhard Scholz (University of Wuppertal) [email protected]

-Miguel Ángel Carretero Sahuquillo (University of Wuppertal) [email protected]

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January 13, 2019, 1:00pm CET

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