Blog 34 Dark Matter – Is it real? By Mark Kingston Levin PhD an award-winning author, adventurer and scientist
Figure 1. Measuring and detecting dark matters is extremely difficult. We really have not found dark matter after all these years. Credit: WGBH
The universe is comprised of five times more dark matter than ordinary matter, according to most astronomers (matter 5%, dark matter 25% and dark energy 70%). Many astronomers think dark matter is spread out across the cosmos in a network. Galaxy clusters are held together by the mass in the dark matter, according to scientists in the field.
Scientists and technicians have narrowed the limits of its size, assuming dark matter is ‘a weak interacting particle (WIMP).’ Results to date are not conclusive. We still do not know what dark matter is made of or how it really behaves. New results of 279 days of data add to our search for answers. Researchers from Rensselaer, headed by Elena Aprile, said we are trying to narrow the options by refining all possible radon errors.
Why are dark matter and dark energy so elusive and invisible to our instruments and eyes? Will dark matter ever be seen? I think the answer is yes, but we are still in the dark ages in cosmology. We have a long way to go to understand our multi-verse.
Figure 2. Fritz Zwicky. Photo credit:
Fritz Zwicky was the first astronomer to propose the existence of dark matter, supernovas, neutron stars, galactic cosmic rays, gravitational lensing by galaxies, and galaxy clusters. However, his peers generally ignored his predictions and observations. He has been called “the most unrecognized genius of twentieth century astronomy” by many. He remains virtually unknown to the public to this day.
One of the greatest scientists of his time, Fritz Zwicky was born in Bulgaria in 1898 to a Swiss father and Czech mother. Fritz was sent to his grandparents in Switzerland to study commerce at age six. Zwicky enrolled in physics in 1916 at Zurich’s Polytechnic Institute and in 1922 received a PhD at the same college Albert Einstein attended two decades before.
Zwicky came to the U.S. in 1925 to work for Robert Millikan at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). There, he began his collaboration with fellow German-speaking observational astronomer Walter Baade.
Astronomy: Cosmic Predictions
In 1933, Zwicky proposed galaxies harbor huge quantities of unseen matter. Based on the motion of outlying galaxies in the Coma galaxy cluster, Zwicky concluded there was not enough visible matter to hold these fast-moving galaxies together. He insisted something invisible was producing additional gravity out there in the heavens. Zwicky dubbed this still unknown substance dark matter. Fritz and Walter discover the neutron star. Fritz was not well liked because he was ahead of most others, and they saw him as arrogant. But in the long run his theories were verified.
Dr. Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, also called the theory of general relativity, is just over 100 years old. It is only a classical theory, as it does not adapt to quantum theory, and there are some problems with the equation we have so far ignored. There are several troublesome areas where the theory of general relativity doesn’t agree with quantum mechanics. These gaps have confounded researchers for almost a century. Black holes cannot be infinitely small, as predicted by Einstein’s theory. Quantum theory tells us nothing can exist smaller than a Planck’s length, which we know from quantum mechanics.
Figure 3. Erik Verlinde is a professor of Physics and Mathematics at University of Amsterdam. Credit Wikipedia
Some physicists do not buy into these explanations. Erik Verlinde, a professor of science mathematics and informatics at the University of Amsterdam, is one of them. He’s developing a theory that takes another look at the mechanics of gravity, and it seems to be out of the box in the world of slowly adapting physics.
“Emergent gravity,” as Verlinde calls it, is the idea that gravity is not a fundamental governance of our universe, but instead a reaction to the makeup of entropy or information called Qubits. Verlinde does not think of gravity as a fundamental force, something that “just is.” It could be possible that gravity is the result of the positions of quantum bodies, like the way temperature is derived from the motions of individual particles.
“Einstein’s theory of gravity, called general relativity, may be thought of as being derived from a more microscopic picture,” Verlinde says. We learned about black holes from Einstein’s theory and that it looked like a failure where everything goes to infinity. Verlinde’s lectures are available on the internet. He may be onto something great–the next advance in the theory of gravity. Time will tell.
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Dr. Levin was born and grew up in Vermont with many winters spent in Florida as a child. As a teenager he wrote poetry, served as a lifeguard and played football. He currently enjoys sailing, exploring underwater caves, snorkeling, writing science fiction and other pursuits. After working on the Apollo and Mars projects, he returned to school to study under Nobel Laureate Paul Dirac, obtaining his PhD in 2.5 years. Dr. Levin founded two companies and served the science policy apparatus in President Ford’s administration. He has been published over 44 times in scientific literature and was awarded over 32 US patents. The science fiction writer is now emerging with his first work, a trilogy entitled 30th Century. The first award-winning book, 30th Century: Escape, is currently available on Amazon. Book two in the series, 30th Century: Revived, should be released before the end of April 2018.