The Search for the Invisible

August 30, 2008 at 11:13 am | Posted in Science, Space | Leave a comment

The excellent TED conference series has released a talk from earlier this year on the search for Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Patricia Burchat explains the search and the markers that flag the presence. Or absence as it were.

She illustrates some of the markers for invisible mass and observes that the expansion of the universe is an expansion of space itself, not just things moving further apart from each other.

However, she also illustrates part of the issue scientists are having with conceiving the very small and very large. Now I’m not a physicist but I do have a sense of when ideas are chasing themselves off into folly.

For one, physics discovered a while ago that matter is not particles, but a wave form. It is only a particle, localized, when perceived. This does not fit the conceptual model so they stay with particle research, leaving out the obvious impact of the observer and thus missing part of what’s going on.

She also illustrated the tendency to look at space in 2D, for example, laying rulers over a flat map. Yes, she did talk about 3D lensing, but people tend not to think of space in 3 dimensions. We mostly use 2D models. I spoke about this over on Quite Enough. It really changes our conception of space if we get out of the idea that planets ‘orbit’ on a plane, for example.

To simplify the formulas, scientists will tend to leave things out so they can get results. Like spin, or pretend it’s a closed system. But then they forget they have left parts out.

The result is they are building models, and then spending billions on devices to test the models, that are stuck in too small a box. They see the influence of what’s outside the box but it remains “dark” as it does not interact measurably with what’s in the box.

That kind of observation is always a flag that the model is not large enough, that you need to take a step back and get a bigger picture. Go vertical as it were, stop thinking solid world. As Patricia observers, visible mass seems to be held in a sphere of invisible mass, mass that is much greater than observable mass. But the particle model means they are looking for more mass rather than seeing the existing mass has a point or particle value and a more generalized value. What is physical exists in a field of pre-physical. This is a very old idea only fairly recently rejected. But like cold fusion, it’s bad news for a scientist to consider. Yet there they are, illustrating it in a presentation but giving it a fancy physical name.

I have also noted the idea of the Electric Sun, an alternative view of the physics of the universe that is much simpler and apparently explains it better. But it’s a new competing theory so has to build further before it will be taken seriously. Tricky to gamble your career on the success of an idea.

I’m pretty sure the whole “dark” concept will go the way of the dodo when they get a deeper grasp on the subtler mechanics. They have the basic ideas there, they are simply seeing it wrong in my books.

There’s another point to make that I consider useful. Science has the tendency to get lost in the details. Quantum Physics is a little like that. Because they don’t understand the container, they are looking finer and finer into the particles. Atoms, particles, quarks, superstring, each a considerably smaller scale than the previous. But what they don’t get is that the smaller they go, the more they will find. It’s a rabbit hole they are creating with their attention. Remember? Attention localizes what is not and will do so at whatever scale.


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