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Monday, March 12, 2007

Source of Dark Matter Discovered

One of the hallmark mysteries in cosmology is whether or not the universe will continue to expand forever or will eventually collapse in on itself in a Big Crunch. Either way, I'm not likely to be around to see which way we end up. However, this morning I was thinking about these issues and in particular the source/existence of so-called dark-matter in the Universe. Although this area is far outside my own expertise (that being hydrocephalic earth studies) a visit by my mother-in-law provided the inspiration for solving one of cosmology's most enduring riddles. How much dark matter is in the universe and what is dark matter composed of? The leading candidates according to modern physics are baryonic and non-baryonic (hot dark matter and cold dark matter). Dark matter is important to expansion/contraction/flat theories of the universe because according to Martin White (UC Berkeley):

This is quite interesting because as the Universe expands the value of Omega changes. In fact the value 1 is unstable, and the Universe would prefer to evolve towards one of the two natural values: 0, if the expands forever further apart until the Universe is almost totally empty ; and infinity, if the matter recollapses to a state of higher and higher density. Then the observation that Omega is fairly close to 1 today, means that it must have been even closer to 1 in the past. It is unsatisfying to believe that we just happen to live at the time when Omega is just starting to depart from 1 by a small factor.

It's the last sentence that got me. Why should omega be departing from 1 at the present time. Following a morning coffee discussion with my wife and mother-in-law, I propose the following alternative. A brief explanation for the inspiration is needed:

(1) My mother-in-law is in her 70's and yet she loves her Windows98 computer. She'll often call me up to say that files just disappeared from her list and she is unable to find them. Most recently, she received a new dial-up service package and she mentioned that all her phone number files just 'disappeared' from her computer. She said "I know they're out there somewhere".

It was an aha! moment for me. Indeed, those lost files are out there. They are winging their way through the cosmos. Tiny electrons (baryonic matter) or even WIMP's (non-baryonic matter) containing phone numbers, soup recipes, e-mails with photos of some cute cat or dog performing a trick, photos of ice covering cars in Switzerland distributed to a list of friends, advertisements for Viagra at a discount are all part of the root cause for omega's departure from unity in the present era.

Gravitational lensing caused by spam e-mail electrons in Abell 2218 (Hubble Image). Note the cute-kitty, soup recipe and lost phone number in the image.

There's more of course. My mother-in-law helps with the laundry and invariably the dryer eats some of my socks. It is my hypothesis that baryonic dark matter is also made up of socks that were sucked up by the dryer, thrown at light speed from the vent and now populate the cosmos causing additional gravity ripples and excess matter in the Universe.Astrophysicists spend millions of dollars looking for objects like MACHOS (MAssive Compact Halo Objects) as candidates for dark matter such as brown dwarfs. The real search should begin at home. If we consider the TLSN (total lost sock number) based on the current global population of ~6 billion people. Each lost sock contains a mass of 100 grams (plus some static charge build up) and if each person loses 3 socks per year, we are adding about 1.8 x 10^9 kilograms of matter to the universe per year + an unknown number of charged particles. It follows that socks must simply appear from nowhere via some quantum fluctuation in order to add mass to the universe rather than a simple transfer of mass. This would account for locating socks which have no match and that I have no memory of owning.

Socks orbiting Brown Dwarf in Orion's Trapezium Cluster (courtesy Hubble)

If these socks were to gravitationallly collapse amongst themselves, they may create dark regions of space thought previously to be black holes. In fact, the black hole at the center of our galaxy may simply be nothing more than a sock repository (though probably the socks may be fully ionized). I'm beginning to think that additional matter (far exceeding the mass of lost socks) is also entering the universe from playgrounds and elementary schools around the globe in the form of mittens, hats, gloves, coats, homework, report cards etc.....


Joe Meert


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