Posts Tagged ‘the universe’

the wonder of it all

April 25, 2010


40 years of the Hubble telescope…  enjoy the music, the pictures and the wonder of it all.

Sometimes we need to pause and think about how small we really are.


Dark Matter of a Light Nudge Theory

January 16, 2010

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City
The Dark Matter of a Light Nudge  Theory

My first visit to the Science North Inco Cavern was most satisfying.  Not only because of the theatre setting carved out of solid rock and the friendly staff, but for the subject matter being presented by our guest speaker, Professor Stephane Courteau of Queen’s University in Kingston..  Or should I say, because of the Dark Matter…

Professor Courteau is an energetic astrophysicist that quickly warmed up to his subject by reminding us of the great men of science past, Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton among others and how their contributions lead us to where we are today in our quest for knowledge about the universe.  Professor Courteau entertains us with the current thinking of the beginnings of the universe.  Where time and space beginnings the size of a pin head started, not with a haphazard “big bang” but more like a benevolent, light nudge.

With the measurements concocted using Einstein’s theory of relativity, Newton’s discovery of gravity and Galileo’s realization of objectivity, we gained further evidence of mass and substance in our universe.  Planets were theorized to exist though they could not be seen based on the “wobble” of their neighboring planets or the stars set in their orbits.  Mathematical calculations based on the patterns of movement and the precise expansion of the universe gave evidence of black holes, black stars, black energy and the perplexing dilemma of dark matter.

Dark matter in space has all the characteristics of mass but cannot be seen, though its presence is theorized because of its gravitational effects on visible matter.  There are rotation curves of spiral galaxies and other signs of missing mass that appears to be more dense than its visible counterpart, which comprises less than 10% of the known universe.  The movement of galaxies adds to the strength in the belief of dark matter as other star clusters wink off and on while the density of other solar systems pass by.

Interestingly, here in our area is the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory which Professor Courteau predicts will be receiving the Nobel prize within the next 10 years because of its research coinciding with the existence of dark matter.  Neutrinos are elementary particles that travel through mass near the speed of light and are not diminished by distance.  Because they are very hard to detect, Professor Courteau estimated perhaps one or two a year may be found at SNO.  Will neutrinos unlock the secrets of dark matter?  Is dark matter comprised of neutrinos or does it emit neutrinos, somehow affect neutrinos or simply eat neutrinos for breakfast?

All of this discussion of the origins of the universe started giving me a colossal headache until I recalled what I had read recently about dark matter discovered in the human brain.  Pictures of the brain’s “dark matter” had direct correlation with the universe’s “dark matter” when their photographs were placed next to each other; in fact, their characteristics were identical.

Could this “light nudge” theory of the origins of the universe just be the sparking synapse of some cosmic brain’s creative thought, “Let there be light”?

Dark matter, it’s not just for astrophysicists anymore.