Hello to everybody out there with access to a computer,
After telling a fellow free-thinker that god was essentially a “Hey! What’s that? I guess god did it” fill in for what we don’t know he replied to me with what is a very good question, “Then aren’t dark energy and dark matter just the gods of astrophysics?” and I had to think about this one, but I did find one key difference between the two.
First of all, what is dark matter? Well, nobody knows for sure, but we do know about its properties, and it has been observed. It is a type of matter which only interacts with other matter through the fundamental force which is gravity, it does not interact through any of the other three forces. It was first hypothesized in 1932 to account for the large difference between the spin of galaxies predicted by physics and what was actually being observed. At the speed that galaxies where spinning, stars should be flung from the galaxy willy-nilly, but they weren’t, so it was theorized that there was more matter in these galaxies than what we could see. The other line for the theory of dark matter is that the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) shows that there should just be more stuff that what we could see. Dark matter is that extra stuff.
Dark energy is the same. It is an explanation for the accelerating expansion of the universe, and is thought to be the opposite energy to gravity, it makes up about 73% of the stuff in the universe. A lot less is known about dark energy than about dark matter but it explains a heap of the observations we have made about the universe.
Now, to the difference between god and dark matter and dark energy. The main difference, I think, is the intent of the label. When a christian or philosopher says something to the effect of ‘goddidit.’ (its one word now) then that is the end of their investigations, they look no more into the matter, because it is rude to intrude upon god’s mind and creation.
When the scientific community decided upon the two labels of dark matter and dark energy, they had already looked as deeply as the could have at the time into the subject, and after genuinely not being able to come to any other conclusion they decided that there was more stuff there, but that wasn’t the end of their endeavors. Labeling what they found was not the end for them, the label ‘we don’t know what this is’ was not the end of the road, when new technology or ideas come along they investigated the dark matter and dark energy with those new ideas, and we are starting to get a better understanding of these two things now. If when scientists were baffled by how galaxies stayed together they just said “Well, I guess god is holding them all together then, isn’t he?” Then we would know nothing about it.
That’s it for today’s post, I will leave you with a quote from Linus Pauling, “Facts are the air of scientists. Without them you can never fly.” Linus Pauling, Chemist, Biochemist, peace activist, author and educator of some note.