Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Orbiting Dwarves

Apparently, there are at least nine dwarf galaxies orbiting our galaxy, which are supposedly made up of 99% dark matter.

I'm a little skeptical about the whole "dark matter/energy" thing. It seems to me, at least, that dark matter and energy could be viewed as cosmological fudge factors to explain why what astronomers observe doesn't line up with the theories which explain what they should be observing.

Recall that over 150 years ago, astronomers couldn't explain why Mercury's orbit was the way it was. So they hypothesized that there was a small planet, very close to the Sun, which affected Mercury's orbit. They looked hard for that planet, but they never found it. Many decades later, Einstein developed his theory of general relativity, which, when applied to the observations of Mercury's orbit, explained why it was like that.

So I'm a little skeptical of the "we infer X because of Y" reasoning. I'd rather see direct evidence of X. And so would a lot of scientists, which is why they are working on experiments to directly detect dark matter and energy.

1 comment:

mikey said...

But the good news is we respect science, so we do research and observation and are entirely willing to adjust our understanding based on new information - unlike the idiots who want to end the conversation with the declaration "God did it".

Dark Matter is a certainty - galaxies simply can't spin as fast as they do without the additional mass. Dark energy is a placeholder - it tells us that there is something that is accelerating expansion over gravity - and gravity is the biggest question of all.

Unlike the self-satisfied idiots we have to listen to every day, we form these hypotheses knowing they are inaccurate and incomplete, but willing to update them as new information becomes available. And with the LHC re-starting at 13 TeV this month, more will be learned, and we'll be able to think about the questions with more data.

One of the challenges is the academic love affair with string theory, which is similar to religion in that it is a lovely story that cannot be falsified and it cannot be tested. Much like multi-verse theories, these are dumb distractions when we're doing some of the most exciting science in human history...