The Gravity of the Dark Matter Problem
The composition of dark matter has people from many disciplines of science scratching their heads in wonder.
What exactly is Dark Matter?
If we are to answer this question I propose that we first change its name to something which better describes just what it is that we are looking for.
You see, the term ‘dark matter’ is very probably a misnomer, even the leaders in the field of study regarding this phenomenon admit that all we have is our study of the ‘results’ that we would observe if dark matter actually existed.
So, we see the effects of the phenomena that we call dark matter. To date, it has not been possible to observe a single atom of dark matter in our universe.
This is extremely worrying to most astrophysicists and cosmologists because this dark matter, according to contemporary beliefs, comprises over 99.9% of all of the gravitational energy in the known universe.
Let’s put it another way.
Every single particle of matter that we have observed in our universe, from molecules of interstellar dust right up to enormous galactic conglomerate’s, accounts for less than 1% of the gravitational energy that we have calculated is required for maintaining the universe in its present state.
All of the observed matter in the universe; stars, planets, dust and galaxies, appear to be no more than the equivalent of the visible white caps on the peak of the waves in an ocean whipped up by high winds. We see the white caps suspended in empty space, doing just what they would do in response to the wind as they sit atop of the ocean being created and destroyed by the wind, but no matter how hard we look, we just can’t find the ocean below.
So what’s gone wrong with our reasoning here?
One of the problems might be that we seem to be looking for physical matter that just doesn’t exist. We seem to have tagged this phenomena as real matter by calling it ‘Dark Matter’, when all that we have really observed is a visceral effect, one which we would expect to find if that amount of matter actually existed in the space that we have observed.
In essence, we have an unexplained ‘gravitational effect’ and, being human we have an irrepressible urge to poke around in the unexplained until eventually it becomes the explained.
The fundamental fact that we have jumped the gun with dark matter doesn’t seem to bother most scientists at all.
If we accept that ‘Dark matter’ is a misnomer, and what we are looking for is a ‘Gravitational effect’, shouldn’t we first go back to poking around with gravity.
Gravity is an attracting force, felt by all objects which have ‘mass’.
‘Massive’ objects attract each other. The more massive [dense] an object is, the stronger the attraction. This is really a case where size just does not matter.
We should ask the basic questions again, because they have never been answered. Perhaps the most difficult question, which was passed over because it was just too difficult is ‘Why?’
Why do massive objects attract other objects?
It’s not enough to say ‘That’s just the way it is’. We might as well say, ‘It’s because these objects are lonely and seek out company’.
Of course, that’s utterly ridicules, matter generally doesn’t feel loneliness, unless it’s put together in a certain way which results in a particular shape, size and cussedness that we already know so well!
The reality is that we just don’t know what gravity is, any more than we know what dark matter is.
If we start from this premiss, and admit that we know practically nothing about the phenomena of gravity, instead of compromising our efforts to explain dark matter, we may find that it liberates our thought processes and enables us to move forward in our quest to explain dark matter.
In the spirit of ‘back to basics’ we can look at the problem from an entirely different angle.
When looking for dark matter we are essentially attempting to identify a phenomenon which pervades the entire universe, including the empty space between the tiny amounts of visible matter we have observed.
We agree that there must be something which is spread out across the vast reaches of space which is having a positive [from our perspective] effect on the structure of space and time.
We already know of one thing that fits this search criteria reasonably well. Gravity.
Could gravity itself be the force which binds the universe together?
Yes, of course it is. But in our limited view of things it is the gravity that is produced by the totality of regular [visible] matter that sets the starting point in the race to explain the rules of our universe.
It could be that the gravitation effects felt by ‘massive’ objects in our universe are not the primary effects of the phenomena known to us as gravity.
One of the questions we need to ask is whether or not it could be possible for an ‘effect’ to have an ‘effect’, albeit a proportionally diminishing one?
If we are ever able to answer the question ‘What is gravity?’, we may just find that the answer to the question ‘What is Dark Matter?’ was tugging at our hanging cuffs all along.