Dark matter comes out of the closet

I had long misunderstood. I had only causally paid attention but I thought dark matter was just ordinary matter that was in too low of energy state to emit light or other radiation. Wrong. And now they have actually proved it’s existence. What really got my attention was this:

The two galaxy clusters passed through each other at an incredible speed of 16 million kilometers per hour. As they did, the bulk of the luminous matter in the two clusters, which is in the form of hot gases, bumped into each other and slowed down. But the dark matter sailed ahead because it does not interact with normal matter the same way.

Sean Carroll is a cosmologist at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the observations. He says particle physics laboratories around the world are trying to capture dark matter in an effort to determine its properties.

“So there absolutely is a new particle that physicists get to go out there and find,” he said. “That’s great news because it tells theorists what to think about – to think about models for dark matter – and experimentalists what to do to go out there and look for that particle.”

A completely new type of matter which composes the majority of the mass in the universe. Wow! There has got to be some science fiction stories enabled by this. Parallel universes come to mind…

This is like going through life thinking people like you were the norm and then one day having the majority of the population “coming out of the closet” and finding you actually were a very small minority.

2 thoughts on “Dark matter comes out of the closet

  1. Robert J Sawyer’s Starplex features dark matter-based life.

    Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee series of novels and short stories cover a millenia long war between normal matter life, and dark matter life.

  2. This is entirely new to me. I’ve read about dark matter from several sources, and the definition has been; matter that does not emit detectable EM radiation– Its presence having to be estimated by attempting to observe its net gravitational influence, or by other more speculative means.

    A related topic years ago (I haven’t kept up) was whether neutrinos have mass. If they do, the future of the universe was said to be very different, compared to a universe with massless neutrinos. The difference, it was speculated, would define a gravitational environment that either would or would not stop and then reverse the expansion of the universe.

    Interesting stuff none the less.

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