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What We Don't Know.

Dark Matters from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Great Web Comic I spotted on Boing Boing

I still find the idea of dark matter a little dubious, but, who knows. Nobody, I guess.



It would be interesting to know how many cosmologists are uncomfortable with the universe's"matter pie" consisting of only 5% "normal" matter. Are the otherwise unexplained observations so profoundly inexplicable as justify a view of the universe that wasn't around 15 years ago? I'm not well educated enough on such matters (heh heh) to say its goofy, but I would like to hear the chronology of the field that so swiftly brought us to this point.

Brian Greene is by far my favorite author on such matters, for the layperson (as I'm only one of those, I can't vouch for the actual cosmologist/physicist), even better than Hawking & Sagan. His 2004 book The Fabric of the Cosmos explains this matter in a lengthy way, and I think his first book The Elegant Universe also does, albeit that book is about string theory. His latest book is on my list and should have updated information, but money's not what it used to be, and I'm done buying hardcovers.

IIRC the thing started with the two 1998 independent observations that the universe was not slowing down, but accelerating its expansion, which were explained later by modifying the BB theory to an inflationary theory. Dark energy is used to explain this expansion if I'm not mistaken.


Brian Green tends to ham it up a little when it comes to substance. Most of what he says is true... but just be a slight bit wary. He said it in such a way that a technical audience would get the nuance of what he is saying and would then groan a little because the message he conveyed was not what he said but something more unsubstantiated (but perhaps more palatable to a wider audience). Him and Michio Kaku tend to do that a lot when it comes to String theory, multiverses and parallel dimension (so called Brane theories). That is what it takes to sell books I guess.

Do you have any particular examples? I've seen Greene in interviews, "debates", and read his first two books. He makes things unambiguously clear as to what is speculation and what is not. His language is very straightforward and free of woo (I don't think he even makes "God" metaphors like Einstein, Hawking and so many other popular scientist writers did).

Of course he gives special time/writing space to string theory, but that's his specialty, and what his first book was about. I've also read criticisms against string theorists, which usually are based on the fact that there's no evidence and that they're basically dreamers, and I don't think that applies to the guy, cause he says so himself, only instead of "dreamer" I guess the worst you could say is "overly optimistic".

Michio Kaku, that's something else, that guy does speak in such an exaggerated manner.


Ah ok. He spoke at my alma mater once and while he was technically correct, he seemed too eager to speculate. If he openly admits that in his books, then that's fair - no harm in speculation. I had assumed that he was representing string theory as mainstream accepted physics, which is quite far from the truth, and hence put him in the same bin as Michio. I actually just today heard an interview on NPR with Brian Green and he did seem to clearly point on that he was being "optimistic" and I revised my mental bin for him.


Here's why

Lawrence Krauss explains why cosmologists have the quandry that they do.

I had seen (and very much enjoyed) Krauss's video, but it didn't give me a sense of the robustness of the theory in that I didn't get from it the number and quality of independent observables that require a "normal matter" percentage of less than 5%. I like this better for that.

re: "What we don't know"

Where did I put the damn cell phone charger????

The wall.

A short-term intern at Australia's Monash University appears to have cracked a problem that's been baffling astrophysicists for decades - the so-called missing mass problem. It's been known for some time that the universe contains much more mass than is visible in the form of stars, planets and other objects.

Check out Tim's link above. That's not true at all (typical science reporting).


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