Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reflections on an old Post: Dark Matter and Luminiferous Ether

A few years ago I was very excited to propose that physicists were on the crux of a breakthrough in cosmology, namely the reduction in the size of the size of the unknown Dark Matter that is prevalent in our universe. I drew parallels to the prevailing theory of cosmology that the Michelson-Morley Experiment and Einstein disproved supposing that the scientific community was falling victim to 'groupthink' again. Well, I was wrong.

There is a saying: "Complex problems have many simple, easy to understand wrong answers". As I researched Dark Matter (I must explain that I am an armchair physicist, not an academic physicist) I discovered more details about the problem and what the observations were indicating. From what I've read it appears that we are in the post Michelson-Morley and pre-Einstein phase with regards to Dark Matter.

That is to say that in the late 19th and early 20th Century we (the scientific community) faced experimental data that challenged our prevailing theories. Theories that held the world together. Nature's mysteries were staring us in the face and we were at a loss for explanation. That is where we are today. Back then, Einstein came to the rescue with a theory so bizarre, yet so simple and elegant, that it must be one of those 'easy to understand wrong answers'. Today we are waiting for an Einstein to help us understand what we are seeing.

This fresh mystery may require as dramatic a paradigm shift as Einstein's theories or Quantum Mechanics. Perhaps instead of unifying gravity with QED we will be incorporating a new, third variant to explain all this missing matter and energy? Perhaps our understanding of space-time will be turned inside-out or upside-down and this will all make sense. My suspicion is that our understanding of time is to blame and will be revolutionized in the answer to this mystery. What if space-time is composed of a defined minimum quanta (string theorists seem to believe space is at minimum 1 plank meter in size, so why not space-time. 1 plank metersecond?) that expands in all 10 dimensions in the presence of energy, but remains static in the presence of matter? Would shape of space-time would inflate and deflate constantly, almost breathing, as energy passed through, or would the expansion cease to contract as energy passed? Could this be reconciled with relativity? QED? Would the math help explain those moments after the big bang?

The great thing about the mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy is the possibility it represents. It shows us that the further we reach with our understanding the further we realize we have to go before we understand our universe.

Dark Matter may be found to have prosaic explanations like the WIMPS or something similar but I sure hope not and I think the mystery of Dark Energy is a clue that something we haven't even imagined is at work out there.