Radio DM to Update News on the Missing 95%
The Known Unknown – Embarrassment or Adventure?
Does IT matter? By “it” we mean, of course, dark matter. Does dark matter matter, and for that matter does dark energy matter? If it does should we deploy money, talent and genius on it?
Paraphrasing Douglas Adams - author of "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" - if we had any sense of perspective the more delicate amongst us might lose whatever shreds of residual sanity that remain, curl up our toes and swiftly slide back into the slime and dirt from whence we came. The more Feynman-like amongst humanity may of course be more quizzical and / or awestruck by the wonder of it all and say that of course dark matter and dark energy matters. Even Professor Brian Cox is wondering about it!
How can we say we understand the universe or multiverse or whatever it transpires to be if we extrapolate everything from the roughly 5% of the energy density that we have analysed thus far in our exciting journey at the seaside of knowledge? We are standing on giants’ shoulders but the fog of ignorance still obscures a lot.
Dark matter reportedly makes up about 25% (27% according to NASA) of the energy density of the universe with another c70% (68%) as dark energy. We only “know” about 5% of the known universe - a bit embarrassing really! Or exciting – what dark matter periodic table awaits us? [Scientists at Stanford in Manlo Park and Fermi Lab in Chicago are attempting to take advantage of particle – wave duality to search for dark matter waves rather like tuning into a radio station using SQUIDS (Superconducting QUantum Interference Devices) so not AM radio, nor FM but DM Radio! An accessible explanation of how SQUIDS are to be used in the search for DM can be found either in an Astronomy Now article here or on Stuart Gary’s Space Time podcast here with an update to the search from his April 2018 podcast .
For a great podcast on how dark matter was discovered try ‘Daniel & Jorge Explain The Universe - - What Is The Smallest Piece Of Matter?’ from 16 Oct 2018. Incidentally for a very good explanation of Cherenkov radiation listen to ‘Daniel and Jorge Explain The Universe – Can We Build A Warp Drive’ 22 Oct 2019 podcast (about 11 minutes in) using the example of muons travelling through ice faster than photons of light are able to travel through the medium of ice thus producing a luminal bloom – a blue glow.
( DJ Cosmic Jellyfish may soon be playing heavy music from the light metal band Dark Matter Halo on FM Radio)
Who is to say what our experiments might uncover? Might basic research enable ways to expand extreme sports to gravity wave surfing or dark energy powered galactic travel or maybe the deeper understanding of quantum biology meshed with composite material engineering could enable a step change in practical lifespans?
Who knows but it does seems fair to say that just as 15th century citizens would not comprehend the technology and science that we use in our everyday life. We may experience STEAM powered 22nd century life with equal incredulity.
Spending on basic research might be seen as somewhat wasteful and yet the work of previous centuries should persuade us of its utility and return to society. Perhaps the simplest way of making it politically saleable is to echo … maybe one day tax it.
William Gladstone to Michael Faraday
“What is the practical worth of electricity?”
“Why sir there is every probability that you will soon be able to tax it!”
“New directions in science are launched by new tools much more often than by new concepts.
The effect of a concept led revolution is to explain old things in new ways. The effect of a tool driven revolution is to discover new things that have to be explained” [which then leads to technological and social spinoffs)