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What If Dark Matter Really Doesn't Exist?

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the what-then dept.

Space 1063

sonar67 writes "According to The Economist: 'It was beautiful, complex and wrong. In 150AD, Ptolemy of Alexandria published his theory of epicycles--the idea that the moon, the sun and the planets moved in circles which were moving in circles which were moving in circles around the Earth. This theory explained the motion of celestial objects to an astonishing degree of precision. It was, however, what computer programmers call a kludge: a dirty, inelegant solution. Some 1,500 years later, Johannes Kepler, a German astronomer, replaced the whole complex edifice with three simple laws. Some people think modern astronomy is based on a kludge similar to Ptolemy's. At the moment, the received wisdom is that the obvious stuff in the universe--stars, planets, gas clouds and so on--is actually only 4% of its total content. About another quarter is so-called cold, dark matter, which is made of different particles from the familiar sort of matter, and can interact with the latter only via gravity. The remaining 70% is even stranger. It is known as dark energy, and acts to push the universe apart. However, the existence of cold, dark matter and dark energy has to be inferred from their effects on the visible, familiar stuff. If something else is actually causing those effects, the whole theoretical edifice would come crashing down.'"

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Hmm.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229932)


OT: Michael Moore == Adolf Hitler? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230150)

"Most people prefer certainty to truth." This bit of wisdom is part of the standard Unix fortune file, and it speaks volumes about why hatemongers
such as Adolf Hitler and Michael Moore enjoy such popularity. If somebody is pure evil -- like the Jews, or George W. Bush -- it's OK to hate them. Right?

Absolutely. Just ask Moore what Bush "has in store for us". Ask Moore what Bush "really wants". Ask Moore about Bush's "greed", his "stupidity", his
"hypocrisy", and his "moral defects". These are exactly the same propaganda techniques used by Adolf Hitler.

How can it be that sixty years after the Holocaust, so many are again pulled in by such a blatant propagandist? Simple. The world has been in an uneasy state for the past two and a half years, chiefly due to Islamic terrorists. It would be nice if we had somebody to blame for it all. But since blaming the actual perpetrators of the crimes would be too obvious, in addition to Not Politically Correct, it's much more interesting (and convenient to the conscience of the "progressive") to just blame any white
Christians within easy reach.

Thus, the Michael Moores of the world engage in some brilliant intellectual contortions, while coming up with truly startling accusations. That Moore's claims tend to fail under the pressure of a little scrutiny, or even common sense, is not the point. The point is that Moore must -- he MUST -- arrive at the conclusion that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are blameless for the world's troubles. We should instead be blaming John Ashcroft and George W. Bush. We know all about them, they're closeby, we can pronounce their names, and they look like us. Hating them is much easier.

This is the key to the certainty-vs.-truth principle. The complex and difficult truth is too much for Michael Moore. He cannot process the
facts. So his mind instead focuses on an easy, satisfying idea -- that George W. Bush is comprised of nothing but negative qualities -- and he believes that idea with a religious certainty. It's not the truth, but it helps him cope with his world.

A number of individuals have been fooled by his ideas, but you don't have to be one of them. Double-check Michael Moore's facts once in a while and draw your own conclusions.

Reading about it recently (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229935)

I've been reading into this topic recently. From what I gather it does not mean conventional theory is yet dead. The Newton observations are at the limits of accuracy, so a mistake could have crept in. Or it could be that astronomers have misunderstood how galaxy clusters evolve. Changing that understanding would be uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as throwing out cold, dark matter and dark energy.

Re:Reading about it recently (2, Insightful)

tigersha (151319) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229966)

Let me see, changing the process about how galaxy clusters (which are extremely complex phenomena) are LESS disturbing than bringing in multiple forms of unexplanied forms of basic substances and forces into our fundamental model of the universe?

This is the part I do not understand.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230039)

The parent post is a verbatim copy from the article after the introductory sentence. It is not insightful, but redundant.

Re:PARENT IS A TROLL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230205)

You're mOM is a verbatime copy of my ass!

and i DoN'T complainen!

what if theory didn't exist? (4, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229942)

So what if it doesn't really exist? We know very little about anything anyway. Trying to find a unified explanation via "String Theory" is spotty at best but at least it "helps".

What's the difference if dark-matter is really just another false theory? In the long run it's not going to make a whole heck of a lot of difference.

Re:what if theory didn't exist? (1, Interesting)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230054)

Indeed - as the summary says, it's not so much a parse error as a dirty hack, so to speak. Our current theory does the job without breaking anything, and in time we will work out a more elegant way to describe the same concept.

Re:what if theory didn't exist? (5, Interesting)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230110)

Sure, in the long run it doesn't matter.

That is, of course, if we keep testing it and trying to see if it is true. (Or the closest approximation of 'true' we have been able to come up with.)

It matters now if it is not true because then we know we need a better theory. And that means we either didn't understand something we thought we understood, or that we hadn't explored our understanding fully. Either way, there is likely something else that will be affected...

Re:what if theory didn't exist? (5, Funny)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230131)

Well actually knowledge of its existence and how much of it exists will determine whether or not the Universe eventually implodes on itself in the "Big Crunch" or whether the universe will keep expanding at the speed of light forever. So technically speaking, "in the long run" it will matter quite a bit :)

I'll tell you... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229948)

I'll tell you what's going to make the Universe collapse:

I didn't get no fucking FP.

Oh Yeah (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229949)

FP Brotha!!!!!!!!!!!!

Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)

But.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229950)

...what if we don't really exist?

It's gotta be said.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229958)

Seriously, do you think the OSDN's Red Head is hot?

Perhaps.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229961)

Yes, but what does the Bible say on it?

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Scientific Method (5, Insightful)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229963)

If something else is actually causing those effects, the whole theoretical edifice would come crashing down.

As it should.

-Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen: The Scientific Method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230213)

Excellent response. It's too bad religion isn't as honest in their theories.

I Wish I Was a Scientist (5, Funny)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229965)

Much like a dog staring at a shiny object, I'm fascinated by this but I don't understand it.

Re:I Wish I Was a Scientist (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230045)

I think I can help - here's a translation of the article: "Physicists are not quite sure what's going on."

If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230103)

you were a crow.

Theory. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229968)

It's a theory. Theories can be wrong.

Re:Theory. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230088)

Just like the Theory of Evolution.

Re:Theory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230195)

At least theories try to explain observation without resorting to to the supernatural or occult.

Re:Theory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230129)

But you can have a theory that is more likely than another to be true.

Re:Theory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230155)

Scientific theory is all there is. All the "laws" are slowly being replaced by theory and will eventually disappear altogether.

Sorry to be nitpickin' (2, Informative)

haxor.dk (463614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230206)

...but theories generally aren't wrong. I think you mean a hypothesis, right ?

No dark matter ? (1, Interesting)

haxor.dk (463614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229973)

Then we're screwed. Life is doomed to die out with the heat death of the universe. We won't go with a bang, but with a whimper...

Re:No dark matter ? (3, Interesting)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230144)

Hey, all the better!

If the end of the universe is a heat death it might be possible to live forever, in smaller increments of time/energy. If the universe crunches, everyone and everything dies...

Re:No dark matter ? (5, Informative)

Pi_0's don't shower (741216) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230154)

It's more than that. If Dark Matter doesn't exist, we will be forced to re-examine more than just our current picture of the universe. Galactic Rotation curves, velocity dispersions of galaxy clusters, the flatness of the universe implied by the CMB, type Ia supernovae data, as well as other distance indicators, all imply that the parameter "Omega_mass" (the mass density of the universe divided by the critical density) is about 0.3. If there is no "dark matter", we don't know how to explain this number. Baryons, i.e. stars, planets, gas, etc., make up only an "Omega" of 0.044 +/- 0.009. This constraint is from Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and is very strong. Although there are plenty of open questions about dark matter, it seems to me (just an astrophysics grad student) that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence for not only dark matter, but the model of "cold" dark matter as well. None of the alternatives can explain even half of what Dark Matter can, including modifying gravity. Plus, Dark Matter is consistent with GR, the big bang, and everything else we hold dear about physics and astronomy, whereas other theories don't. Just my two cents... Ethan

Thank god for the sun... (0)

WordUpCousin (735088) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229980)

Otherwise we'd be flying all over the place.

The remaining 70% is even stranger. It is known as dark energy, and acts to push the universe apart.

Re:Thank god for the sun... (2, Funny)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230136)

We _ARE_ flying all over the place, so is the sun.. If Dark Energy exists it's probably somewhere in the shredded Enron papers..

Resistance to change (5, Insightful)

visgoth (613861) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229982)

It will be interesting to see how scientists who have staked their entire careers upon the existence of dark matter would react to the discovery that it does not in fact exist. Ideally an invalid theory is dropped, and a new, more "correct" theory is created. However, I have a feeling that a lot of people have invested too much time and effort into dark matter to let it go without some serious evidence.

Re:Resistance to change (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230105)

they will continue to work on it for years and years until their death just like Einstein did? A previous mover/shaker forever lost in the past by refusing to move along?

Re:Resistance to change (3, Informative)

vondo (303621) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230177)

Five years ago, every cosmologist "knew" that the universe was flat and matter supplied the critical density (in other words, no dark energy, that 70%). Conventional wisdom has completely changed with the discovery of the accelerating universe.

If the data is there and convincing, the views will change. But any alternative theory is going to have to explain all the observables, not just the two mentioned in the artice.

(E.g., the convincing data on dark energy comes from two independent groups studying supernovae.)

Re:Resistance to change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230220)

I believe the few scientists who kept on believing in Cold Fusion moved to Japan, where they kept working on it...

What difference would it make? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229983)

You can't see it, anyway. It's too dark!

Relativity (4, Interesting)

mozumder (178398) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229984)

Actually, with Einstein's relativity, doesn't Ptolemy's theories hold true? Everything is relative to a point of view?

Sorry I didn't ask this question in Modern Physics's class. It was a morning class, and I was sleeping.

mod him up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230137)

I once had the idea of building a moving model of the solar system with the Earth placed on the central static position, and with the rest of the celestial objects moving as they should.

From our perspective *here*, yes, everything is going around us.

It's the next best thing to building a flat-earth model! ;)

Re:Relativity (2, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230148)

I would have to look more closely at Ptolemy's theory to be sure, but you might be right.

With Relativity, you can pick your reference point, and we normally use the sun for the solar system. However, you could say that the sun orbits the Earth and the other planets orbit the sun. If you then look at the path of the other planets relative to the Earth, they may well be traveling in something close to what Ptolemy described.

I've long thought that Rennaisance astronmers would have gotten in a lot less trouble with the Church if they had left the Earth fixed and said that the other planets orbited the sun, which orbited the Earth--all mathematically equivalent, but politically safer.

Re:Relativity (4, Insightful)

RLW (662014) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230197)

A theory of how things work is only as good as that theory's predictions. Ptolemy's model must have been very useful for predicting the position of celestial objects or it would have been put aside even 'longer' ago. It's only when a model is in direct conflict with observed data that it is in trouble: even if there is no formulated model that works with the new observations.

'Dark' energy and matter will only be in serious trouble when that model no longer explains observed data.

Dust (-1, Offtopic)

Gil-galad55 (707960) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229986)

Everyone knows that Dark Matter is really Dust--Shadows--particles created by and vital to consciousness. Come on people! (See Philip Pullman's *His Dark Materials* trilogy... that's the American name; I think it's different in Britain.)

Re:Dust (1, Funny)

GonzoDave (743486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230002)

In Britain it's called His Dark Materials. Our supply of asterisks dissapeared along with our dentists

Brief History... (2, Interesting)

mwheeler01 (625017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229987)

Anyone who's read a Brief History of Time would know that any theory that describes something accurately is pretty valid. Whether or not it's elegant is another matter. Most Physicists believe that God created the laws of physics to be elegant and try to iron our the complexities of their theories. If dark matter doesn't exist it pokes a rather large hole in things but going under such an assumption may lead to a more elegant picture of how the universe began, and the nature of matter etc...

So, uh, if we find out it really doesn't exist (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229988)

are we in trouble or something? Is the universe going to collapse next week or what?

Correct me if I'm wrong... (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229991)

...but doesn't String Theory tend to suggest that "dark matter" isn't actually dark matter, but instead is gravitation bleeding from other universes? The same theory also explains why gravity in this universe is so weak. Because most of it bleeds of into other universes via the higher dimensions, it's weak enough for you and I to move our limbs.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (1)

skarmor (538124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230169)

You know, I've always cringed at the use of the term "universes". Isn't the term universe supposed to encompass all that exists?

So if "stuff" exists in other dimensions then wouldn't that "stuff" just be a part of the one universe?

I could be wrong though - I'm no astronomer/cosmologist....

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (5, Funny)

Zoolander (590897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230196)

That's what I love about physics: it's so out there that you'd think the person who just said something like that was smoking crack, if he didn't have a PhD.
Gravity bleeding between universes...
Who needs science fiction?

I Agree (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8229996)

I couldn't be bothered with the article but I think I probably agree with this guy, not those other guys.

What does it matter? (3, Interesting)

MrPCsGhost (148392) | more than 10 years ago | (#8229999)

Are planes going to drop from the sky? Will we be thrown out of orbit? This sounds like the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs floats on air because he never studied the laws of gravity (I know I've probably got the reference wrong, but you get the idea).

Your experiment fits the model, or it doesn't. If it doesn't then one or both need to be tweaked, or scrapped.

No friggin way? (5, Insightful)

Bryan Gividen (739949) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230003)

We don't understand something fully? Wow... that's about as brilliant as deciding to cut my sandwich in triangles instead of in squares.

The truth is this. We have such a little understanding of actually governing laws that we can't begin to fathom it. However, that doesn't stop us in progression to learning. Just because this theory might not be right (and probably isn't) doesn't mean we are any less an idiotic species. We've been working on these theories for many millenia. One of them turning out to be wrong won't be a surprise... it's a probability. Without the wrong hypthosesis, we can never stumble onto the correct ones. Its Edison's, "Every time I fail, I know one more way how to NOT build it" idea.

Then Dark Suckers would be useless (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230005)

If there were no dark matter, then Dark Suckers [netcom.com] would be useless.

Since we know Dark Suckers aren't useless, dark matter must exist.


What if ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230011)

What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.

Woody Allen.

Inverse Tachyon Phase Inducers (3, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230016)

"What If Dark Matter Really Doesn't Exist?"

Then wait for Star Trek to invent a new theory.

If it doesn't exist.... (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230017)

...then 99.9999999% of the world won't notice. But it will be on CNN anyways.

Energy = Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230022)

It would be nice to find a better form of energy transportation. Electricity is lossy and causes interference, electromagnetic radiation is hard to contain. If we could find a "purer" form of moving energy, efficiency would dramatically increase. Also, if our universe is so loaded with energy, why do we have to resort to breaking chemical bonds in oil/coal and splitting uranium for energy?

Well.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230024)

Well, we'd have star ship fuel and a poop machine that makes dark matter.

Blogzine.net [blogzine.net]

Dark matter? (0, Interesting)

dustmote (572761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230031)

A friend of mine is doing his master's thesis on a theory that rather more elegantly explains the phenomenon without having to resort to dark matter, but unfortunately I don't understand enough of physics to know if he's right or not. Something about gravity. (I know, I know....in physics, that really narrows it down, since there's so little about gravity out there...) In any event, I suspect we will find something a little more elegant, just like the article said, because dark matter sounds......well, silly.

Re:Dark matter? (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230210)

With all of these theories coming out I keep wondering how much real info they stand on and how much are concept. It seems there is a lot of concept coming out these days to explain all of the things we just can't explain yet. Like we need to explain everything right now even if all the facts and info aren't in yet.

Is this something that a GUT could solve (1)

use_compress (627082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230033)

Does anyone kwow whether a Grand Unified Theory would help this problem? I can see how it would explain these unseen forces but from what I've heard, proposed GUTs don't really deal with forcse other than EM, Gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Would a GUT help to explain the force that is currently said to be caused by dark matter? Thanks.

What does eating too much have to do with physics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230101)

America's too damn fat anyway. It's not like if everyone ate four Big Macs for lunch each day we'd add up to enough mass to hold the universe together anyway (although if we could clone Rosie O'Donnell we'd have a chance...)

(Yes, I know what a GUT really is. This post is what's known as a "bad joke". And some would call it a GUTH instead of a GUT, though.... :-)

Stephen Hawkin has an idea. (2, Insightful)

JawFunk (722169) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230041)

I have read half of this man's short book "a Brief History of Time", and he did not claim, but discussed a theoretical possibility that if this energy pushing the universe outward is moving at a decreasing speed, the trend would eventually reverse and the universe would begin to collapse. As of right now, researchers have determined that the universe is still expanding, if my memory serves me correctly.

the economist? (1, Insightful)

Naksu (689429) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230051)

so let me get this straight... the economist is a reliable source for news about astrophysics? I guess i should just read bash.org then for news about politics...

Re:the economist? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230167)

so let me get this straight... the economist is a reliable source for news about astrophysics?

If it had been in the New York Times, you would not have made this complaint -- and the New York Times doesn't specialize in anything, much less economics or astrophysics. At least The Economist can claim to be expert in at least one field.

This is not insightful. The veracity of a news story is not a function of where it is published, so long as the sources are reliable.

FF (2, Funny)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230063)

All of this sounds like the core setting of a new Final Fantasy game. I can see it now: the effeminate antagonist finds a way to control this dark matter/energy and threathens to destroy the world, then the spiked-hair, badly dressed hero comes to destroy that antagonist, who happens to be his former friend. Insanity, stupid names and buxon girls ensue.

Before the idea of dark matter was put forward (2, Funny)

GonzoDave (743486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230064)

Wasn't the missing mass accounted for with Dyson spheres?

Something odd with gravity (5, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230068)

There seem to be growing "hints" that something is wrong with current theories about the very nature and behavior of gravity. This includes alleged dark matter that cannot be identitied, planetary space probes with slight deviations from expected sun "pull" [1], and the fact that there is no identifiable "negative" gravity while the other forces do have negative values or particles.

[1] It was originally thought that heat generated from nuclear fuel cells was "pushing" the probes, but this was mostly ruled out because the heat lessens over time, but the pull was constant.

PS: forgot something important (1, Funny)

haxor.dk (463614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230075)

An open universe, that is, one where spacetime doesn't contract back into a singularity (Big Bang), implies a fundamentally different spacetime geometry that the one of a Closed Universe.

Open Universe is Hyperbolic (Infinite)

A Closed Universe is Spheric (Finite but boundaryless)

I've always felt the explanation lay in ... (1, Offtopic)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230076)


Saavik: "Protomatter. An unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable."
David: "But it was the only way to solve certain problems."

Im scared of the dark (-1, Offtopic)

MonkeysKickAss (735143) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230080)

If its dark matter then you cant see it duh. Any way I am scared of hte dark there are monsters that come out in the dark like the boogie monster.

The real conundrum (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230085)

Is not to figure out what it isn't if we are wrong but really what not to do if it turns out that we aren't right. That is the nature of Physics.

I hope its a kludge (4, Interesting)

mnmn (145599) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230108)

Science has been progressing on the basis of constantly proving theories as kludges and bringing about something newer and more real. Imagine if our currently held view was true (before Standard Model), we will never be able to travel faster than light, we'll never harness energy bigger than a hydrogen bomb, we'll never really travel far beyond the Solar system, travel back in time etc.

Before the cannon was invented everyone thought the arrow was the greatest weapon, and few could really predict the power of "Little Boy" on Hiroshima. Quantum Mechanics has given us so much hope, of unknown and unexplainable realities, and that far more is possible than we first thought. It means the road before us is much longer, but far more interesting. I'd prefer it that way.

All I know is... (5, Funny)

npistentis (694431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230118)

Dark matter had better exist- otherwise, I've wasted a hell of a lot of money on that dark matter damage insurance I bought a couple years back...

Most excellent (4, Funny)

anandamide (86527) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230119)

Then I can walk down the hall in the middle of the night without fear of stepping on my little boy's building blocks.

quantum matter (2, Interesting)

planckscale (579258) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230132)

Perhaps scientists are looking at dark matter and the universe incorrectly. Looking for 'matter' in 3-4 dimensions (light, heat, matter) when judging the weight of all matter and its relevance to the size of the universe. I think until we grasp that all that's seen and measured as a way quantifying a 10-20 dimentional universe, we'll be stuck at a dead end. Perhaps the 'matter' in the universe is a small portion of it's quantum octuplets in different dimensions, parallel universes, and infinate possiblities all rolled up in a 11 dimensional quantum state. Empty space may be just and 'place' in a super string soup that isn't actually empty but an infinately wide probablity of being any possible particle at any point in time. Seems like this could provide a little extra 'weight' to dark matter.

Elegant Universe (1)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230151)

I recently picked up Elegant Universe [amazon.com] after a colleague of mine recommended it. I am only 75-100 pages into the book and its a pretty intense read. I probably have to start it all over again 'coz there is a lot of stuff that just doesn't make sense the first time round though. Me not so smart, eh?

Magnetism.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230156)

Until they can explain what magnetism and gravity is and how it's created.. and not just that "it's there.. we can measure it".. then there's no chance in hell that anyone can explain the rest..

I've always thought Dark Matter was a little funny (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230158)

Something just rubs be the wrong way about any theory of the universe that lumps 96% of the universe into "and the other stuff...".

It's like the damn superstring theory. Superstring doesn't really make any decent predictions. It does explain things that we could never observe, thus It's not testable. (And the standard model has a pretty decent working description of what we do see already.)

Dark Matter to me is a fudge factor created to explain by cosmolgist's math is off. It would be like me inventing "virtual customers" to explain shrinkage at a store.

Bummer (1)

shubert1966 (739403) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230159)

. . . the whole theoretical edifice would come crashing down.

Does that mean that my Login/Password won't work anymore?

Kind of like WMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230164)

Yep, this is kind of like there not being any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It doesn't matter that they don't exist, because we did the right thing anyway. See -- so even if dark matter doesn't exist, it's OK for scientists to invade space and look for it. Space will be better off anyway ; )

Isn't all of physics like this though ? (1)

openSoar (89599) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230165)

Doesn't this notion of a kludge apply to all of physics at any point in time though? Someone creates a theory for something which is backed up by current knowledge and experimental evidence. That's all it is though - at some point later when some new piece of knowledge appears, things can change dramatically and a whole new theory is born.

I've always wanted someone who was really good at physics to create a book that explained common phenomena like gravity, electricity or light in radical new ways but was able to back it up and cover all the angles with solid theory.

I thought this was all a known kludge (1)

sielwolf (246764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230172)

anyway? My first experience with Dark Matter and Energy was all that it was "well, things are going faster and so people just postulated this idea." I wasn't told that anyone really believed in it (unlike terracentrism or whatnot).

My prof mentioned it was like that Far Side where it has the equation on the chalkboard that said "Here a miracle occurs".

talk about dumbed down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230175)

From the article:

"...launched in 2001 by NASA, America's space agency."

Excuse me? 10yrolds in all but the most backward countries know what NASA is. Just who does the Economist think it's target audience is?

In 100 years... (4, Insightful)

iiioxx (610652) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230182)

Dark Matter will be taught to school children as the Aether [wikipedia.org] of 21st century science.

Another theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230184)

There is also a theory that does not require any other matter or energy to account for the structure of the universe. The Electric Universe [holoscience.com] This is build on the work of Halton Arp who believes the is an error in our use of redshift to determine the distance of objects and likewise their age, and the work of plasma physicists who have their own theory [lanl.gov] about things

It must exist (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230185)

If the majority of /. readers think "Light Saber" is the best hand to hand weapon then there's no doubt. Fuck you fucking stupid nerds!

What a bunch of losers!

Spending their best years with the computer while other dudes like me drive home with the prom queen and fuck her brains out!!!

Universe full of possible crap then(?) (1)

janbjurstrom (652025) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230204)

the obvious stuff in the universe [...] is actually only 4% of its total content. About another quarter is so-called cold, dark matter [...] The remaining 70% is even stranger. It is known as dark energy, [...]

But what if dark matter/energy does exist?

We already know that 90% of everything we actually can see is crap. Think of how much crap we theoretically have yet to discover!?

Makes you think, or something.

The Sky is Not Falling (3, Insightful)

Apostata (390629) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230209)

There's nothing wrong with a kludge, aesthetics aside. Every evolving line of discovery needs it's necessarily flimsy connectors of reason. It's only when we allow our pride/ignorance/greed etc. to deny that the kludge is just a kludge: this is where mistakes are made, and thus we fail to evolve.

The fact that the universe may not boil down to 3 categories of matter is not earth-shattering. If we discover something to the contrary we must look at it plainly.

The problem with kludges is that it's only a kludge when it's a theory that is revealed to be inherently flawed. Before this realisation, it's just the best theory we have at our disposal. Just because something is revealed to be inelegant doesn't mean it wasn't serviceable, or simply the limit of our reason at the time it was presented.

Dark Matter and CMB (1)

doogiefoo (556453) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230214)

The problem with the article is that CMB is only one of the ways to verify the existance of Dark Matter. The reason why Dark Matter was proposed was because of the rotational velocity of stars in galaxies. Stars orbit galaxies at the wrong speed given the matter we see. Dark Matter "Halos" are used to explain why the speeds don't add up. CMB only indirectly is used to prove the existance of Dark Matter. The measurements only really measure how "clumpy" the universe was right after the Big Bang.

"I Want to Believe" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8230215)

Everyone knows that dark matter is all the alternate dimensions and source of supernatural powers. Fox Mulder believes me...

"Dark Matter" isn't something strange... (2, Interesting)

zx75 (304335) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230221)

The term 'Dark Matter' refers to all celestial matter that does not radiate to a significant degree rendering it 'invisible' from this distance at which we view it.

The existence of dark matter should be obvious, since we know of the existance of numerous asteroids in our own solar system, there should be many throughout the universe, but since they don't radiate energy we are unable to see them and thus cannot account for how much mass they contribute. Astronomers, by examining the change in the rate of expansion of the universe (a tricky prospect, prone to errors that I do not completely understand) it is believed that such 'dark matter' makes up roughly 70% of all mass in the universe. Which means that we cannot account for 70% of mass because we cannot see it.

Even stars fall into the category of dark matter, old dead stars, halo stars in other galaxies (those in a sphere around galaxies which we have only recently confirmed exist around our own galaxy) and likely many other astronomical bodies exist that we simply have not observed.

Dark matter has too many connotations in lay-man's speech that are overly misleading. I'm sorry, but Star Trek did not 'get it right' by any stretch.

Not as Big of a Change (1, Interesting)

PineHall (206441) | more than 10 years ago | (#8230222)

I don't think what Dr. Shanks is proposing is as big of a change as that article makes it out to be. Dark energy has always been a kludge of sorts. He is proposing a theory to define this dark energy factor/constant. It does not radically change the Big Bang Theory, rather it adds to it.
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