In Brief
  • Erik Verlinde's emergent gravity theory makes sense of the behavior of gravity without the need for the existence of a dark matter particle.
  • Researchers from the Leiden Observatory have studied more than 33,000 galaxies to see if Verlinde’s theory checks out.

Emergent Gravity

In 2010, renowned string theory expert Erik Verlinde from the University of Amsterdam and the Delta Institute for Theoretical Physics proposed that gravity is not a fundamental force of nature, but rather an “emergent phenomenon.” And now, one hundred years after Einstein published the final version of his general theory of relativity, Verlinde published his paper expounding on his stance on gravity—with a big claim that challenges the very foundation of physics as we know it.

Verlinde’s emergent gravity theory makes one very important implication: dark matter does not exist. His research makes sense of the behavior of gravity without the need for the existence of a dark matter particle.

Researchers from the Leiden Observatory have studied more than 33,000 galaxies to see if Verlinde’s theory checks out—and the results show that it is, in fact, more accurate at confirming the universe’s gravity distribution than Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Watch the video below to know more about Verlinde’s alternate explanation to gravity.

“A Totally Different Starting Point”

Throughout the years, physicists have been in search of dark matter, which would explain the discrepancies between general relativity and the gravitational lensing observed in light space. While gravity is responsible for this bending of light, the problem is that the bending is not consistent with the amount of matter present, suggesting the presence of invisible particles to account for the additional gravitational force.

A lot of effort, equipment, and funds have been dedicated to the quest for dark matter. If proven right, Verlinde would be putting an end to a four-century long search for the hypothetical particle, and what we know of our universe will drastically change.

Verlinde’s calculations were only applicable to isolated, spherical, and static systems, which means that dark matter is not completely debunked. As with any theory, Verlinde’s emergent gravity theory will undergo modifications as more physicists weigh in on the matter over the next years. Verlinde is optimistic about its progression: “Many theoretical physicists like me are working on a revision of the theory, and some major advancements have been made.”

“We might be standing on the brink of a new scientific revolution that will radically change our views on the very nature of space, time and gravity,” he added.