Wednesday, March 9, 2016

There's Nothing There - Part 18

Fritz Zwicky. Making science.
OK, not Fritz. Some Swiss guy on an alpenhorn.
Making noises.
There was this guy named Fritz. Fritz Zwicky. He was Swiss.

My sources tell me that he was ... irritating. Obnoxious. Unpopular. Curmudgeonly. That's the word Wikipedia uses.

Actually, he was lucky. If he'd lived in an English-language based country, he'd have been called Icky Zwicky. Or worse. That would have made anybody irritating. Actually again, he lived a long time at CalTech in Pasadena, CA, where the natives speak English after a fashion, so "Icky Zwicky" might have been spray-painted on his locker, maybe.

Not really. That's at Cern. This is ... not at Cern.
I lived in Switzerland. Three times. When people ask me sometimes how come I lived in Switzerland three times, I say that it's because God loves me more than he loves them. Cuz Switzerland is very cool. Alps. Cheese. Chocolate. Wine. Skiing. Biking. Hiking. Not a big hiker, but if I were, I'd hike there. Plus, you know. CERN. Particle physics. The Higgs. The World's Largest Microwave Oven.

Anyway. I digress. Fritz. You could rhyme something with that, too, that we won't do because "crapload" is kind of our swearing limit.

Fritz. Way back in the '30s, right after the General Theory kicked in, Fritz was looking at galaxies (which we didn't even really know for sure existed until like 1927 or -8 or -9), and, being a smart guy, noticed that they were spinning too fast to be able to hold themselves together.

You know how if you get on a merry-go-round (do we still call them that?), or a thing that you go around and around on so that you can get merry, but you up your chuck instead? Or you fall off, if you're not holding on? Or both?

Well. Galaxies are spinning so fast (not that you can tell by just looking) that they would throw all of their stars out into space, and they wouldn't technically be galaxies anymore, since, um, you gotta have stars to be a galaxy.

So he (Fritz) wondered, what was holding the galaxies all together?

Well, the answer is, gravity. Gravity is what holds galaxies together.

That is, all of the gravity in all of the stars in each galaxy is added up and holds the galaxy together. The stars make a gravitational well, and the galaxy sits in the middle of the well.

Actual scientists experimenting with spinning galaxies.
Um. OK. Actual idiots with a motor cycle.
But he (Fritz) noticed that there weren't enough stars in ANY galaxy to do that. At least, the ones that he could see. So there wasn't enough gravity in ANY galaxy if you just counted up all the stars.

We needed more gravity.

And what makes gravity, you ask?

Stars. That is, matter. Stuff made of matter.

So we needed more matter in every galaxy. EVERY galaxy.

How much? you might ask.

About 5-6 times more matter than is actually there.

5-6 times more stars than are actually there. 

That would be like, in our solar system, we'd need 5 or 6 more suns, plus maybe instead of 8 planets, 40 or 48 more planets.

Now, if you'll go out and look around, you'll notice that we have one sun, tops. And rumor has it that we only have 8 planets. Sorry, Pluto. Maybe 9 if the mystery planet turns out to be a planet.
Apparently the universe has all the idiots it needs.

So there is a crapload of matter missing in the universe.

We could have known this in 1933 when Fritz discovered it, but he was kind of irritating. So we didn't pay attention.

And then, in 1975, a much nicer scientist person named Vera Rubin discovered it all over again. She was just as smart, but not such a pain. Not a pain at all, in fact.

She should win a prize. Not for being not a pain, but for discovering all over again that a crapload of matter was missing from the universe.

Darth Matter. Not Dark Matter. Get it? Get it?
We decided to call it "Dark Matter". Since it's missing, we have no idea what it is, don't know what it's made of, and can't quite figure out how SO MUCH MATTER is out there that we CAN'T FIND. 

We're not upset. OK, maybe a little.

Worse yet, it turns out that we really really need Dark Matter in order for the universe to work.

Because without Dark Matter, there would be no galaxies, and without galaxies, there would be only isolated stars, and for various reasons, no planets and no life. Anywhere.

No Dark Matter = no galaxies = no life = no you, no me, no us.

No Dark Energy = no universe = no life = no you, no me, no us.

So, you might ask. How much Dark Energy and Dark Matter do we need? In order for everything to, you know, be here?

Ah. Good question.

Here's what we can see. Matter, which makes up, um, everything. Stars. Planets. Dust. Galaxies. Everything we can see.

That turns out to be ... 5% of the universe. + or -. 

The rest of it - 95% or so - is Dark. Energy and Matter. 68% and 27%. In case you were wondering.

95% of the universe is invisible to us. A mystery.
Looking for Dark Matter. It's a metaphor.

Because it only interacts gravitationally. So we can't see it. Touch it. Hear it. Taste it. Smell it. 

It's all around us, but it doesn't interact with us except via the very very weakest of all the forces, gravity.

Dark Matter. Dark Energy. Gotta have 'em in order for us to be here. Don't have a clue what they are.

Oh. Here's what else.

This might be true. Or not. Hard to tell.

But. Since Dark Matter is, after all, Matter, and since the non-Dark Matter that we can see started out as particles, and then became parts of atoms, and then became atoms, and then became dust clouds, and then became stars, and then became 1) elements and 2) galaxies, and then became 1) planets and 2) life, and then became 1) you and 2) me, then ...

Dark Matter might have done the same thing.

So. There might be Dark Galaxies, and Dark Planets, and Dark Life, and ...

Dark You. And Dark Me. 

There might be a whole Dark Universe with Dark People in it, or Dark Aliens, that we can't see because it's, you know, Dark, and ...

It's 5-6 times bigger than the universe we do see.

And to them, we're Dark, too. And they're all around us, and we're all mixed up inside of them. And they can't see us and we can't see them. But we know that there's something there that we can't see. And maybe they do, too.

What a great universe!

Not Dark Aliens. Darkish. Not a merry-go-round.
Dark aliens tend to get nauseated on merry-go-rounds.

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