6-8 February 2019
International Conference on
Dark Matter & Modified Gravity

Dark Matter & Modified Gravity

Registration Deadline:13 January 2019

speakers | registration | schedulepractical | contact

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Underdetermination between Dark Matter & Modified Gravity

"Dark Matter & Modified Gravity" is a 3-day conference taking place from 6 to 8 February 2019 at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. It aims to bring together physicists as well as philosophers, historians and sociologists of physics/science working at the interface of dark matter and modified gravity. This conference is organized by the project "LHC and Gravity" within the interdisciplinary, DFG-funded research unit "Epistemology of the LHC".


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) | web

Lasha Berezhiani, Max Planck Institute for Physics (Germany) | web

Felix Kahlhoefer, RWTH Aachen University (Germany) | web

Julien Lesgourgues, RWTH Aachen University (Germany) | web

Stacy McGaugh, Case Western Reserve University (USA) | web

Mordehai Milgrom, Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) | web

Tobias Mistele, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (Germany)

Robert Sanders, University of Groningen (The Netherlands) | web



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

Michela Massimi, University of Edinburgh (UK) | web

Niels Martens, RWTH Aachen University (Germany) | web

David Merritt, Rochester Institute of Technology (USA) | web



Jeroen van Dongen, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) | web

Jaco de Swart, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) | web


Contributing Speakers:

Siska de Baerdemaeker, University of Pittsburgh (USA) | web

Indranil Banik, University of Bonn (Germany) | web

Nora Mills Boyd, Siena College (USA) | web

Marc Holman, Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University (Canada) | web

Abhishek Kashyap, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (India) | web

Marcel Pawlowski, Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik, Potsdam (Germany) | web




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 martens[at]physik.rwth-aachen.de by 13 January 2019. Registration is free. (Note that the deadline for abstract submissions has passed.)

flyer for download



A Google Calendar version of the schedule can be found hereA more detailed schedule including a booklet of abstracts can be found hereParticipants that are already in Aachen on Tuesday the 5th of February are welcome to join us for informal drinks in Zum Goldenen Einhorn (Markt 33, 52062 Aachen) at 20:00.



Practical Information and Location Details

The venue of the conference is the Generali Room on the top floor of the SuperC building of RWTH Aachen University, Templergraben 57, 52062 Aachen. Coffee breaks, the reception on the first day, and the conference dinner on the second day will also be here. A list with suggestions for nearby lunch and dinner locations can be found here.


The following airports are nearby:

Cologne-Bonn. Intercontinental airport.

1h15 by RE (i.e. Regional Express, the least expensive trains)

Düsseldorf. Third-largest intercontinental airport in Germany.

1h30 by RE (i.e. Regional Express, the least expensive trains)

Brussels. (BRU/Zaventem, not South Charleroi) Largest intercontinental airport in Belgium

1h30 by ICE or 1h45 by Thalys (both trains are more expensive than RE, and are best booked in advance to reduce costs; these international trains do not go early in the morning and late at night)

Frankfurt (am Main). Largest intercontinental airport in Germany.

2h15 by ICE (more expensive than RE, and best booked in advance to reduce costs)

Eindhoven. Second-largest airport in the Netherlands. Budget flights within greater Europe

2h45 by bus + train




Organization & Contact

This workshop is organized by the project "LHC and Gravity" within the interdisciplinary, DFG-funded research unit "Epistemology of the LHC". For further information, please contact the organisers: