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Is Earth Weighed Down By Dark Matter?

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the big-boned dept.

Space 247

Nerval's Lobster writes "There may be a giant ring of dark matter invisibly encircling the Earth, increasing its mass and pulling much harder on orbiting satellites than anything invisible should pull, according to preliminary research from a scientist specializing the physics of GPS signaling and satellite engineering. The dark-matter belt around the Earth could represent the beginning of a radically new understanding of how dark matter works and how it affects the human universe, or it could be something perfectly valid but less exciting despite having been written up by New Scientist and spreading to the rest of the geek universe on the basis of a single oral presentation of preliminary research at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December. The presentation came from telecom- and GPS satellite expert Ben Harris, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Texas- Arlington, who based his conclusion on nine months' worth of data that could indicate Earth's gravity was pulling harder on its ring of geostationary GPS satellites than the accepted mass of the Earth would normally allow. Since planets can't gain weight over the holidays like the rest of us, Harris' conclusion was that something else was adding to the mass and gravitational power of Earth – something that would have to be pretty massive but almost completely undetectable, which would sound crazy if predominant theories about the composition of the universe didn't assume 80 percent of it was made up of invisible dark matter. Harris calculated that the increase in gravity could have come from dark matter, but would have had to be an unexpectedly thick collection of it – one ringing the earth in a band 120 miles thick and 45,000 miles wide. Making elaborate claims in oral presentations, without nailing down all the variables that could keep a set of results from being twisted into something more interesting than the truth is a red flag for any scientific presentation, let alone one making audacious claims about the way dark matter behaves or weight of the Earth, according to an exasperated counterargument from Matthew R. Francis, who earned a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from Rutgers in 2005, held visiting and assistant professorships at several Northeastern universities and whose science writing has appeared in Ars Technica, The New Yorker, Nautilus, BBC Future and others including his own science blog at Galileo's Pendulum."

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Impressive (0)

Dunbal (464142) | about 8 months ago | (#45877255)

Well considering the fact that even gravity is still not completely understood (yeah call me when you detect those gravity waves your theories predict), I wouldn't place any bets on the dark matter ring...

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877289)

You mean gravitational wave. Gravity waves are a different thing and have been detected for millions of years.

Re: Impressive (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877321)

Who had been around for millions of years to detect them?

Re: Impressive (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877361)

There are two types of waves in water. Gravity Waves are the ones large enough to be held together by gravity, and capillary waves are held together by surface tension.

Re: Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877691)

There are two types of waves in water. Gravity Waves are the ones large enough to be held together by gravity, and capillary waves are held together by surface tension.

There are two types of waves in water. Gravity Waves are the ones large enough to be held together by gravity, and capillary waves are the small ones held together by catapillars.

Re: Impressive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877397)

Many animals on earth.

Re: Impressive (2)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 8 months ago | (#45877557)

Unless they have peer reviewed papers - however can you trust them?

Re: Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877447)

Two words Dinosaur Scientists, fun fact their favorite delicacy was missing links and beans.

Re: Impressive (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 8 months ago | (#45877797)

Who had been around for millions of years to detect them?

Your question implies you also have a theory about trees silently falling in the woods, right? It is not all about you, sometimes it is about them .

Re:Impressive (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 8 months ago | (#45877401)

Yeah probably, I'm not a physicist. Just a specialist in another field who sometimes reads up on physics stuff as a hobby :)

Watch for Romulans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877257)

Clearly it's Red Matter.

Re:Watch for Romulans (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877267)

The title sounds vaguely racist in nature.

Betteridge's law of headlines (3, Insightful)

thue (121682) | about 8 months ago | (#45877261)

"Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (0)

Picardo85 (1408929) | about 8 months ago | (#45877291)

"Should women be equal to men in the workplace?"

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (2)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 8 months ago | (#45877305)

You fell for the troll. "Can be answered by" "Must be answered by". . .

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877315)

"Should women be equal to men in the workplace?"

This is not a headline, it is a reply to a comment.
Thank you.

"Should women be equal to men in the workplace?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877801)

There you go.

Re:"Should women be equal to men in the workplace? (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 8 months ago | (#45878049)

Subject != headline.

There YOU go.

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877687)

Its called betteridges law of headlines .. not betteridges law of comments.

Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877753)

So if the headline was "Does any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no?", would that blow up that theory?

Readability (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877273)

Making elaborate claims in oral presentations, without nailing down all the variables that could keep a set of results from being twisted into something more interesting than the truth is a red flag for any scientific presentation,

It's standard not to write all the technicalities down in a scientific presentation. They usually last 30 to 45 minutes. There is no way, even for a scientific mind, to follow all the technicalities in 45 minutes when it took several months for the speaker to grasp the subject. Nobody in the audience would understand anything aside from the coauthors. Imagine your 20 hours advanced graduate course on physics condensed in 45 minutes with no simplification at all.

Disclosure: I'm a mathematician, not a physicist.

Let's wait for the proceeding or the full paper even though it's true we should be skeptical at this point.

Re:Readability (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 8 months ago | (#45877311)

Let's wait for the proceeding or the full paper even though it's true we should be skeptical at this point.

This is Slashdot. That never happens.

Re:Readability (4, Informative)

professionalfurryele (877225) | about 8 months ago | (#45877399)

Not to mention that this is a completely bullshit attitude to take to oral presentations. I often present preliminary data at conferences, part of the point of these things is to get feedback from colleagues about things like what variables might explain the results seen and to search for collaborators who have the expertise to help you pin down your result precisely. Most talks I go to are "I collected this data to test X, I saw Y, X either can or cannot explain Y but Z definitely can, comments?".
The exception is some engineering conferences where you are presenting finished work and it is a peer reviewed paper which other can cite, then you should know your shit.

re: (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877449)

The later link from Dr Francis points out that the calculation has yet to be adjusted for the gravitational contributions of the Moon or Sun, and that it also doesn't make any relativistic corrections.

Those omissions puts the dark matter claim on par with "hey guys I haven't looked at it from far away but from right here it looks the Earth is pretty flat, yeah?"

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877581)

Well, it sure looks bad for that research but it doesn't change that the blanket statement:

Making elaborate claims in oral presentations, without nailing down all the variables that could keep a set of results from being twisted into something more interesting than the truth is a red flag for any scientific presentation,

could only be made by someone unfamiliar with how scientific research work and who harbors an idealized vision of the scientist. Scientists are not infinitely intelligent, they have to specialize a lot (an a lot means specialized in a subfield of a field of a discipline), and most people in the audience won't be experts in the subject at hand and would be lost by the full technical details if they have only 30 minutes to assimilate them. This is reality, not TV where the resident scientist knows all physics, all maths, all biology and all of computer science.

it's obviously an alien invasion (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877279)

The excess mass is an invasion force of cloaked ships.

Re:it's obviously an alien invasion (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877283)

It could be the mass of all the virgins waiting to be awarded to muslim suicide bombers.

Re:it's obviously an alien invasion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877495)

Zero mass would have zero effect. And Hell has never been hypothesized to be in a ring around the Earth.

Oil (1)

Nevynxxx (932175) | about 8 months ago | (#45877295)

I thought we'd been using tiny variations in gravity to detect Oil for 20 or so years now, fly over an area and map the underground caverns based off gravity variation.

Re:Oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877383)

Gravitational mapping is already in the toolkit used by oil-hunting geologists. However, it doesn't provide any magical silver-bullet signal --- you won't generally be spotting big, obvious caverns of free oil; instead, you'll have one more among many indicators that slightly improve your ability to understand the terrain.

Re:Oil (1)

Nevynxxx (932175) | about 8 months ago | (#45877831)

My point was more, "how come this thing that's been working for 20 years works, if you theory says it shouldn't". Not if it's actually any use in the field or not ;)

Re:Oil (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 8 months ago | (#45877869)

I thought we'd been using tiny variations in gravity to detect Oil for 20 or so years now, fly over an area and map the underground caverns based off gravity variation.

Yea, this whole thing sounds really sketchy. Like the guy made a miscalculation when helping design the satellites, only discovered after reports of accuracy issues with the system, and now he's floating a balloon about some wild theory so he doesn't have to admit to making a stupid, multi-billion dollar mistake.

WTF (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 8 months ago | (#45877301)

" one ringing the earth in a band 120 miles thick and 45,000 miles wide."

Presumably that would be outside the planet, and therefore would be counteracting the force of gravity towards the centre of the planet.
Or is there some other wierd geometry involved.

Re:WTF (2)

E++99 (880734) | about 8 months ago | (#45877391)

If the ring was perpendicular to the orbit of the satellite, it would have an additive effect to the earth's gravity in proportion to how far out of the plane of the ring the satellite is. If the satellite is in the plane of the ring, it would have no effect, as it would pull equally in all directions.

Re:WTF (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 8 months ago | (#45877425)

How could it be perpendicular to something that's going around in a circle, unless its a ring that is not only perpendicular but also spins at exactly the same rate as the satellite. Otherwise the force will only be perpendicular for an instant, and then be at some angle for the rest of the orbit. Kind of hard to expect from a dark matter ring especially since there are all kinds of satellite orbits.

Re:WTF (1)

E++99 (880734) | about 8 months ago | (#45877791)

I'm saying if the plane of the orbit is perpendicular to the plane of the ring. Of course it doesn't have to be fully perpendicular -- as long as the two planes aren't identical, any satellite orbit will move back and forth across the plane of the ring. The magnitude of the effect would depend on how perpendicular the plane of the orbit is to the plane of the ring, and therefore how far away it moves from the plane of the ring at the extremities of its orbit.

geostationary GPS satellites (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877309)

> geostationary GPS satellites

A what now?

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877363)

he forgot a word. That being said, there are some GEOS PNT payloads, particularly WAAS and EGNOS, that would provide a good delta for him to compare against.

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45877589)

he forgot a word.

Which word? "Not"?

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (4, Insightful)

EasyTarget (43516) | about 8 months ago | (#45877429)

> geostationary GPS satellites

A what now?

Yeah, I had the same thought, if the summary cannot tell the difference between geostationary and lower earth orbits, what hope it there that it gets anything else right?

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (2)

Woek (161635) | about 8 months ago | (#45877547)

GPS satellites are not in LEO, but not quite GEO either...

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (0)

EasyTarget (43516) | about 8 months ago | (#45877987)

lower != low
My pedantry beats your pedantry; ya boo!

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (-1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 8 months ago | (#45877451)

What's the problem? GPS means Global Positioning System, and they're geostationary (or at least some of them are) and they're satellites. Seems pretty straight forward.

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 8 months ago | (#45877475)

No GPS Satellites are geostationary, sure they all orbit in very predictable paths but they are not geostationary.

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877795)

According to general relativity, it's possible the satellites are stationary and the universe moves around them

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (1)

Woek (161635) | about 8 months ago | (#45877543)

and they're geostationary (or at least some of them are)

Are you sure?

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (1)

msauve (701917) | about 8 months ago | (#45877793)

"Geostationary" doesn't mean what you think it means.

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (5, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | about 8 months ago | (#45877885)

GPS means Global Positioning System, and they're geostationary (or at least some of them are) and they're satellites

No they are not [wikipedia.org] geostationary. They have orbits that make at least 6 satellites visible from nearly every point on earth at all times. Each satellite completes two orbits each sidereal day.

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (2)

rnturn (11092) | about 8 months ago | (#45877959)

Sorry. GPS satellites have 12 hour orbits, geostationary satellites have 24hr orbits. I.e., GPS satellites are not geostationary. If they were, they'd be all but useless in many (most?) locations on earth (where PDOP would be outrageously high). Imagine you were near the equator using a GPS comprised of geostationary satellites. You'd know your longitude very well but you wouldn't have any pseudorange data to let you determine latitude worth a damn.

Re:geostationary GPS satellites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877731)

From their perspective, it is we who spin wildly around them.

It's God (-1, Troll)

some old guy (674482) | about 8 months ago | (#45877313)

Given the academic climate in Texas, it won't be long till we hear a local peer issue a biblical creationist refutation.

Gee, big invisible force doing mysterious things in the heavens? Gotta be Jeebuz!

Re:It's God (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877355)

Start burning some goats! God says fuck some burning goats or She'll stab you in the lungs!!

Re:It's God (2)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 8 months ago | (#45877517)

Do NOT burn the goats - they're much better medium rare.

Re:It's God (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877415)

Thanks for contributing nothing to the discussion.

Re:It's God (0)

Dunbal (464142) | about 8 months ago | (#45877457)

And amazingly you managed to contribute even less. Must be pretty hard to come up with less than nothing.

Re:It's God (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 8 months ago | (#45877597)

I'm surprised no one has pointed out yet that this was exactly the behavior predicted by the Flying Spaghetti Monster pressing down on objects to keep them from floating into space.

No! It's Allah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877613)

Allah dat dark stuff gots to be sumwhere!

Re:It's God (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45878021)

Dark Matter something that is completely undetectable by all known scientific instruments, yet it's something that a bunch of people believe that exists because some papers postulate its existence and it conveniently explains away the holes of knowledge in their current understanding of the world. H'mm. That concept seems vaguely familiar.

Dark matter has evolved from being simply being a concept to describe a deficiency in current scientific theories to something that actually exists in the physical materialistic realm.

massive and undetectable (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 8 months ago | (#45877317)

this sounds like a new religion. watch out Scientology!

wedding ring (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877331)

Gaia got married.

Re:wedding ring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877759)

Gaia got married.

An interracial marriage then. Well good, nice to see Earth bucking the trend of Saturn and Uranus. Though I have heard Uranus is more fun in the bedroom.

How? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877335)

How was the accepted mass of earth measured? It should at least be consistent with large-scale behavior of our solar system. Now satellites see a harder pull from earth. The same pull should be seen from the sun. It would make sense to me if satellites saw a lower pull than sun, implying that some mass is at earth, but further out than the satellites. This way, not so much.

Is it drag induced by the outer parts (not perfectly vacuum) of the atmosphere?

Re:How? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877521)

For geostationary satellites, drag is unlikely. The upper altitude limit for atmospheric drag is considered to be 2000km, geostationary are at 36 thousands km high.

The earth mass is computed from the semi axis and the (sideral) period of any satellite (including the moon) orbiting earth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_gravitational_parameter which gives you the standard gravitational parameter. To get the mass, you need to measure the gravitational constant which is harder but can be done with Cavendish experiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavendish_experiment.

creative spirit of momkind held down by hypenosys (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877347)

it's not a trick, mass media madison ave. mongrelism is not even new. free the innocent stem cells & our spirits at the same time is (r)evolutionary new clear intentions

Is Earth Weighed Down By Dark Matter? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877365)

Is Earth Weighed Down By Dark Matter?

yes - niggers

Re:Is Earth Weighed Down By Dark Matter? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877385)

niggers

Let's send them to Uranus.

Let's send them to Uranus. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877489)

Hard to do with his head stuck in there.

Re:Is Earth Weighed Down By Dark Matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877471)

Ha!

I'm a black guy and found that one quite clever.

Re:Is Earth Weighed Down By Dark Matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877555)

Ha!

I'm a black guy and found that one quite clever.

Why do the words "bell curve" spring to mind?

Are dark matter and climate change related? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877371)

Could it be that dark matter is the sinister evil that is actually causing global warming, er, "Climate Change"?

Or perhaps dark matter is the hidden reason behind the sudden occurrences of autism?

Or cancer?

Or the poor economy?

Or UFO sightings?

Paranormal activity?

It's something you can see but we all seem to "know" it's there. Sure sounds pretty hokey to me.

Re:Are dark matter and climate change related? (1)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about 8 months ago | (#45877997)

Nobody can see that you shit your pants while typing that but anyone in the room can easily tell.

Also Maybe Responsible For Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877373)

It is also possible that this dark matter has a direct relation with the crime rate. Hmmm, This could explain my recent weight gain as well.

I Call Bullshit (0)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 8 months ago | (#45877387)

We would of had to know the precise mass and gravitational pull for any of the rockets or satellites we sent into space to work. Given that they have not all fallen back to earth, if their is any invisible matter out there, it is obviously in insignificant infinitesimally small amounts.

Re:I Call Bullshit (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 8 months ago | (#45877773)

We would of had to know the precise mass and gravitational pull for any of the rockets or satellites we sent into space to work. Given that they have not all fallen back to earth, if their is any invisible matter out there, it is obviously in insignificant infinitesimally small amounts.

Well, the linked refutation points out the problems with the argument, but the guy is arguing that the amount of dark matter is fairly small. It wouldn't mess with the ability to launch a rocket. Sure, you might end up in a slightly different orbit than intended, but you'd end up in orbit. Almost all launches involve minor corrections anyway - it isn't like you can just calculate nothing but a burn time when the rocket to LEO spends its entire time inside the earth's atmosphere, and the target orbit is inside the atmosphere as well (just a VERY THIN part of the atmosphere). If you wanted to do everything ab initio then you'd need to know about every single piece of space junk in orbit, every passing rock, and so on...

Re:I Call Bullshit (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 8 months ago | (#45877775)

Usually because they contain fuel and thrusters designed to last the lifetime of the satellite in order to make regular course correction because those, especially in LEO, are actually falling back into the atmosphere. Although part of that may be on purpose incase the sat fails it will eventually fall back into the atmosphere and burn up. But I've heard before the other reason was the tendency for them to want to fall back to earth despite calculations saying otherwise...

Re:I Call Bullshit (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 8 months ago | (#45877875)

We would of had to know

Would've. It's a contraction of "would have".

And, no, we don't need to know the precise mass of Earth for satellites to work. Admittedly, we'd need to be pretty damn close for things to actually be in their design orbits.

However, this guy is making noise because he's seeing long-term effects on his satellites that he (supposedly) can't account for by more conventional means. Personally, I think it would have been noticed before now, if such effects exist, but you never can tell. And a belt of Dark Matter is certainly possible, though extremely unlikely.

Re:I Call Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45878025)

You picked on that, but not "if their is any invisible matter out there..." -- why not both?

It's... (2)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | about 8 months ago | (#45877393)

Yo mama!

You fools! (5, Funny)

east coast (590680) | about 8 months ago | (#45877417)

You laugh at the power of Lord Cthulhu, the Great and Glorious One. You try to come up with "scientific" theories and fancy math but the truth will become apparent to you very soon.

Your screams of terror will be like the song of angels to me.

No, this isn't even published. (4, Informative)

imjustmatthew (1164609) | about 8 months ago | (#45877445)

No, this research wasn't even published, it's a conference talk and a PR release. Go read the actual link, at the bottom of the long post, where Matthew Francis dishes it out. Here it is again in case you missed it:

http://galileospendulum.org/2014/01/02/no-dark-matter-is-not-messing-up-gps-measurements/ [galileospendulum.org]

Re:No, this isn't even published. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 8 months ago | (#45877749)

His calculations are nonrelativistic! Wouldn't that make the satellites seem to be going unphysically fast, implying his stronger-than-accepted value for the Earth's mass?

Hypothesis vs. conclusion (2)

ghack (454608) | about 8 months ago | (#45877467)

The dark matter ring is merely a hypothesis. In my field (or science, engineering, or mathematics generally) we should follow the scientific method when reporting results at a meeting.

This guy was unfortunately presenting a hypothesis. He should have waited and tried to find more compelling evidence before presenting. New Scientist should be familiar enough with the scientific method to avoid publicizing a radical and unproven hypothesis.

Re:Hypothesis vs. conclusion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877537)

why should he have waited? wasn't this about drumming up interest and ideas from his colleagues on how to test or on other ideas on how to explain the data?

Re:Hypothesis vs. conclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45878053)

It might depend exactly what field you're in, as the purpose of presentations various a lot between fields and conferences, from being the summary of what should be peer reviewed quality material, to fresh results, to throwing out ideas for feedback. And it is not like the division between conclusion and hypothesis is anywhere near as clean as what they teach in grade school, as rarely does a hypothesis get thrown out by itself. In this case, there would already be some data to back up the hypothesis. The quality of that data might be debatable and there would be a lot of discussion of how further tests can be produced or refined, but there is typically such gray areas with any conclusion, and it is just a matter of degree.

2014 award for run-on sentences already sewn up! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877509)

A master of the art at work:

"Making elaborate claims in oral presentations, without nailing down all the variables that could keep a set of results from being twisted into something more interesting than the truth is a red flag for any scientific presentation, let alone one making audacious claims about the way dark matter behaves or weight of the Earth, according to an exasperated counterargument from Matthew R. Francis, who earned a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from Rutgers in 2005, held visiting and assistant professorships at several Northeastern universities and whose science writing has appeared in Ars Technica, The New Yorker, Nautilus, BBC Future and others including his own science blog at Galileo's Pendulum."

"The human universe" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877513)

"The human universe" - there's another one?

Speaking of dark matter... (1)

iamnotasmurf (3464141) | about 8 months ago | (#45877527)

There was a lot of it weighing me down, but then one trip to the bathroom later and I feel much lighter!

It's TX, we have our share of media darlings... (1)

DroneWhatever (3482785) | about 8 months ago | (#45877549)

The conclusions I read sounded like science fiction. I try very hard to get on-board and understand what is being explained, even for a layman like myself, I can usually wrap my head around a good portion of science on Slashdot. The claims being made come from a very small observation window, IMO. ...Sorry, that does not seem like enough time to develop anything resembling a reasonable scientific conclusion. For contrast, I got this from the tele watching Professor Andrea Ghez. Before she dared go on international media with her proof of objects orbiting a black hole, she collected 10+ years of data. She undoubtedly believed she was correct, well before the ten year mark, but, she waited, bided her time, and when she showed the orbit of these objects around the black hole, there was simply no argument against her proof. I wish more science was like that, but I understand the need for the theoretical side of it. This just reeks of sensational journalism, more than science. Also, keep in mind, we have the guy who "shot bigfoot" recently and is claiming proof... Oh, and that little war on evolution in our textbooks. *sigh*

unexpected extra bit of speed (0)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 8 months ago | (#45877577)

I think it's a little premature to call a small difference in gravitational pull a by-product of "dark matter". We know so very little about the things we can actually see, measure, interact with and predict that this smells more like science fiction. Let's get an agreeable unified theory first and also a mathematical system which does not break down at scale. So much of what we know is hacked together out of assumption and week-kneed postulations that talk of dark matter is really little more than mental masturbation at this point.

Re:unexpected extra bit of speed (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 8 months ago | (#45877755)

Dark matter's really unambiguous in the experimental data. You need a lot of theoretical solipsism such as weird new forms of gravity to write it back out of the physics.

Since planets can't gain weight... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#45877593)

The earth is getting lighter [bbc.co.uk] ...

And Leon's getting laaaarger...

Inaccuracy in article on what 80% of universe is (2)

RoosterRuley (679152) | about 8 months ago | (#45877605)

This statement is inaccurate: "...predominant theories about the composition of the universe didn't assume 80 percent of it was made up of invisible dark matter" 80% of the universe is made up of with Dark Matter and Dark Energy. The theories suggests the universe is made up of about 27% dark matter (not 80%) which is the subject of the article. Dark energy is a sort of negative gravity and is the force pushing galaxies apart faster and not relevant to this article's topic. Dark energy makes up most of the energy mass of the universe at 68%. Taken together they make up 80%, but affect the universe in completely different ways. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy [wikipedia.org]

Dark matter/energy = Fudge factor? (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 8 months ago | (#45878039)

80% of the universe is made up of with Dark Matter and Dark Energy. The theories suggests the universe is made up of about 27% dark matter (not 80%) which is the subject of the article. Dark energy is a sort of negative gravity and is the force pushing galaxies apart faster and not relevant to this article's topic.

The whole notion of "dark matter/energy" seems a little desperate to me. We have evidence that our models of gravity cannot account for certain observations. That means one of two things. Either A) the model is correct and there is something out there that has mass that we cannot presently see OR B) the we can see all the matter out there meaning the model is wrong and needs revision. So far I've seen no compelling argument that A is more likely than B. I understand the hesitation to revise our model of gravity but invoking dark matter/energy is an awfully big fudge factor in the absence of any plausible explanation for what might constitute dark matter/energy.

How about a synopsis first? (0)

Andover Chick (1859494) | about 8 months ago | (#45877609)

That is a ponderous paragraph for the Slashdot headlines. Your prose needs a diet. How about a synopsis first?

What about Occam's Razor? (0)

davidbrit2 (775091) | about 8 months ago | (#45877631)

"Sir, I think there's a problem with our calculations."

"Uh... uh... dark matter! Yeah, that's the ticket!"

Atrocity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877727)

Making elaborate claims in oral presentations, without nailing down all the variables that could keep a set of results from being twisted into something more interesting than the truth is a red flag for any scientific presentation, let alone one making audacious claims about the way dark matter behaves or weight of the Earth, according to an exasperated counterargument from Matthew R. Francis, who earned a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from Rutgers in 2005, held visiting and assistant professorships at several Northeastern universities and whose science writing has appeared in Ars Technica, The New Yorker, Nautilus, BBC Future and others including his own science blog at Galileo's Pendulum.

That "sentence" is a crime against humanity. Also, it kicked my dog.

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45877841)

They're only considering dark matter and dark energy, what about dark space and dark time?

Weight Gain (5, Interesting)

trongey (21550) | about 8 months ago | (#45878007)

planets can't gain weight over the holidays like the rest of us

Actually they do. It's estimated that the Earth gains at least 164,000 kg per day from meteoric accretion. (Barker, J.L. and Anders, E. "Accretion rate of cosmic matter from iridium and osmium contents of deep-sea sediments." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 32, 627-645 (1968))

Does that mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45878043)

If we were to go to another habitable planet that wasn't circled by dark matter, we'd be able to fly, and steel projectiles traveling at supersonic speeds won't be able to penetrate our skin and clothing?

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