Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dark Matter: looking at the invisible

Dark matter is the invisible and yet not fully understood stuff the universe is mostly made of: its mass is five times higher than "normal" matter (i.e. atoms). Its presence in the universe is inferred from its current influence within galaxies and clusters of galaxies, and the gravitational effect it has had on the evolution of structure in the universe.
The first direct detection of dark matter was made this past year and now an international team of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope has created the first three-dimensional map of the large-scale distribution of dark matter in the universe.
Fascinating.
Follow UP Links: The Planetary Society, NASA, ESA

3 comments:

theartistwhowasoncecalledPrince said...

There is a famous painting that depicts a pipe and has written under the pipe "ceci n'est pas une pipe" (this is not a pipe) meaning that that was not a pipe but a picture of a pipe.

The same goes with dark matter. There is no dark matter (and there are no atoms). Dark matter is a name we choose for something we only "know" through some of the effects it has (or we suppose it has - are they the only effects? Are we reading correctly the effects? Is the "thing" inserted in the logical system we take for granted and through which we analyse the effects and therefore assume the origin?). For some reasn we like to call names to things we do not know about. Dark matter or "electricity": Ah! It's electricity! But then again.. What is electricity? We only know what electricity causes (not what it IS).
A matter for us to discuss one of this days?

Claudia said...

Ah, dear economist, there are many levels of "knowing" and empiricism is invaluable in the scientific process. There are no absolute truths in science and the humility to question everything is forever present.

Rauf said...

nobody went to space to see with their own eyes that this world is indeed round and spinning around the sun. First came assumptions then came calculations. Visual proof came much later.

Entire quantum physics can be called a belief.

All theological debates begin and end with 'when it all began ?'

We can also say it never began. The entire universe could be an illusion.
But we are here !