Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Some amazing news from science

Sometimes a scientific headline just slaps me across the face, making me blink and go "Whoa!  Did that say what I think it said?"  I came across one today.  It read:

This has been one of the 'holy grails' of scientific investigation ever since the existence of 'dark matter' was first postulated in 1932.  Here's an excerpt from the report.

Scientists have, for the first time, directly detected part of the invisible dark matter skeleton of the universe, where more than half of all matter is believed to reside.

The discovery ... confirms a key prediction in the prevailing theory of how the universe’s current web-like structure evolved.

The map of the known universe shows that most galaxies are organized into clusters, but some galaxies are situated along filaments that connect the clusters. Cosmologists have theorized that dark matter undergirds those filaments, which serve as highways of sorts, guiding galaxies toward the gravitational pull of the massive clusters. Dark matter’s contribution had been predicted with computer simulations, and its shape had been roughed out based on the distribution of the galaxies. But no one had directly detected it until now.

“We found the dark matter filaments. For the first time, we can see them,” said Jörg Dietrich, a physics research fellow in the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Dietrich is first author of a paper on the findings published online in Nature and to appear in the July 12 print edition.

There's more at the link.  I don't have access to the illustrations in the Nature article, but I daresay they'll appear in the popular press in due course.

This just boggles my mind.  To actually see the framework that underlies our universe . . . wow!



SiGraybeard said...

If you saw the recent version of "The Hitchhiker's Guide", you saw the scaffolding being used by Slartibartfast himself. I'll be here all week. Remember to tip your waitress.

But seriously, the dark matter problem is vexing. What it says is that something like 95% of the universe is not what we can see. Then you get into dark energy which is even more bizarre.

I think it was Haldane who said, "The universe is not only more strange than we imagine, it is more strange than we can imagine."

Anonymous said...

Slowly, we learn to see/detect various phenomena in this astounding universe. Remember the history of "invisible" X-rays? Cosmic rays? Infrared and ultraviolet? And much more. Now these routine observations can be made.
I'll bet that soon we shall be able to visualize dark matter and other wonders.