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posted by martyb on Tuesday June 03 2014, @07:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the now-you-don't-see-it-and-now-you-still-don't? dept.

I happened upon a very readable and thought-provoking article on dark matter and thought others might find it interesting, too.

Dark matter is the commonest, most elusive stuff there is. Can we grasp this great unsolved problem in physics?

The past success of standard paradigms in theoretical physics leads us to hunt for a single generic dark matter particle -- the dark matter. Arguably, though, we have little justification for supposing that there is anything to be found at all; as the English physicist John D Barrow said in 1994: 'There is no reason that the universe should be designed for our convenience.' With that caveat in mind, it appears the possibilities are as follows. Either dark matter exists or it doesn't. If it exists, then either we can detect it or we can't. If it doesn't exist, either we can show that it doesn't exist or we can't. The observations that led astronomers to posit dark matter in the first place seem too robust to dismiss, so the most common argument for non-existence is to say there must be something wrong with our understanding of gravity -- that it must not behave as Einstein predicted. That would be a drastic change in our understanding of physics, so not many people want to go there. On the other hand, if dark matter exists and we can't detect it, that would put us in a very inconvenient position indeed.

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  • (Score: 2, Funny) by iWantToKeepAnon on Tuesday June 03 2014, @08:12PM

    by iWantToKeepAnon (686) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 03 2014, @08:12PM (#50763) Homepage Journal

    Dark matter is the commonest, most elusive stuff there is

    Really? I thought it was hydrogen and stupidity.

    "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." -- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Tuesday June 03 2014, @08:37PM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Tuesday June 03 2014, @08:37PM (#50770)

    I believe that according to current observations, if dark matter exists it is more prevalent by mass than hydrogen.

    Whether it is more prevalent than stupidity depends on two things: whether stupidity has mass, and whether stupidity is limited to Earth. (I'll call the latter the "strong form" of extraterrestrial intelligence: that alien species are actually intelligent, as opposed to being kind of like us.)

    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
  • (Score: 1) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday June 03 2014, @08:55PM

    by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday June 03 2014, @08:55PM (#50784) Journal

    At first glance I thought the author was accusing dark matter of subverting capitalism.

  • (Score: 1) by Alfred on Tuesday June 03 2014, @09:08PM

    by Alfred (4006) on Tuesday June 03 2014, @09:08PM (#50793) Journal

    Stupidity is hardly elusive.