Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dark Matter

One of the great puzzles in Physics today is the supposed existence of Dark Matter. The theory goes like this: We observe galaxies far away; these galaxies are rotating at a certain rate; the rate is too high given the amount of matter we can see in these galaxies therefore there must be an invisible type of matter that contributes to gravitational effects but is otherwise undetectable.
Now, hang on. That is exactly the same as saying "it's magic".
Invoking a magic ingredient (up to 90% of the mass of some galaxies, "they" say) is completely against the "rules". It explains everything and nothing in the same breath. If Science goes down this route elsewhere we might as well stop doing Science.
My own view is that Dark Matter is complete bollocks.
To adumbrate a little. Physics can explain the movement of two bodies moving in response to their mutual gravitational fields. It can not explain the motion of three bodies (called, quite unimaginatively, the Three-Body Problem). Attempting to explain the movement of billions of stars and planets in a galaxy far away might be a bit beyond our capabilities. Additionally, we can explain all sorts of orbital motion in our local area (Sun, planets, comets etc.) without wheeling in the smoke and mirrors that is Dark Matter. Surely it exists here as well? If not, why not? Is that magic too?
In his masterful book Most Secret War, R.V. Jones (a personal hero) outlines what he calls "Crow's Law": Before you think what you want to think, know what you need to know.
Wise words for modern Physics, I feel.

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