Friday, June 10, 2011

WisCon Panel: Meanwhile, In the Dark Matter Universe....

(another science panel)


Universe is not only expanding, but it’s accelerating

Not sufficient ordinary matter or energy to account for this

Dark matter is a concept used to fix the math (stuff we can’t see)

Dark matter/dark energy

Dark energy contributes to expansion

Dark matter affects the shape of galaxies

Are they related?

The only way dark matter interacts with ordinary matter is through gravity (no light)

All observations come from astronomy data

Only light matter collapses and forms stars

Dark matter density isn’t uniform, doesn’t interact to form black holes

We think it’s everywhere (could be on Earth too)

“If you can detect it, it’s not dark matter”

Are ghosts dark matter? (doesn’t seem to fit what we know about dark matter)

Ghosts are like trying to prove something with faith

Not reproducible

Where does SF use dark matter?

We have no idea of what dark matter is like at quantum mechanical level

We currently have no idea how to measure it (even neutrinos can be detected more easily than dark matter)

Scientists are willing to admit that some possible dark matter detections are really machine error (more skeptical than ghost-hunters)

Dark matter may not be able to enter the solar system

Examples of dark matter in science fiction

Vernor Vinge—Fire on the Deep, Deepness in the Sky, areas of the universe move from fast time to slow time (affect speed of light)

Are the rules of physics different in dense areas of dark matter? (pure speculation)

Don’t use the concept lazily

Try to extrapolate something interesting, even if it’s wrong; it’s fiction, after all

Flashforward—Robert J. Sawyer

Greg Egan

If dark matter doesn’t interact itself on a macro scale, would life forms be possible?

Entangled dark matter might stay entangled for a long time

There could be some small areas where dark matter interacts with itself that we just don’t see

It would be a stretch to speculate about dark matter chemistry

Could dark matter be gravity from a parallel universe?

Every time the universe splits, it leaves a trace (is this real or speculation? It’s all theory)

We can’t see gravitational forces on nuclear level (unlike the other three forces)

If we can’t run any experiments on dark matter, how can we deal with it scientifically?

String theory and dark matter do fit with each other

We can’t throw out general relativity; it’s been well-proven

Late 19th century physicists were gloriously wrong about how much they knew (they thought physics was over)

What’s the difference between ether and dark matter?

Ether was considered the medium through which light traveled; however, Michelson-Morely showed that the speed of light was constant regardless of which direction you measured it

Some physicists believe we just don’t understand gravity and that dark matter doesn’t exist

His Dark Materials—coexisting alternate dimensions

Gravity is the elephant in the room for physics; we don’t understand the basis of gravity (CERN is looking for the God particle to explain masses of particles)

Gravity is the force of attraction between two objects based on their masses and the distances between them; so far, no particles for gravity have been found (general relative: gravity is a curvature in the fabric of space-time)

Time prevents everything from happening at once

If the speed of light is set to 1, time and space are the same

What’s the worst thing you can do when writing about dark matter?

If dark matter was used in such a way to convince people to harm themselves (mark fiction as fiction)

What could scientist fictional characters say about dark matter/energy?

Don’t say things that have been disproven

Don’t try to use “dark matter” as a fancy way of saying alien or something similar (parallel universe)

Can propose a universe with different physics

Real scientists would discuss freaky results with their coworkers

Real scientists would do experiments, get odd results, keep testing

Resources:

Check panelists on Twitter (Jake Kolojejchick)

Michio Kaku

Brian Greene –The Fabric of the Cosmos

Are Sagan and Hawking relevant?

Read accounts of the experiments (Experiments in Modern Physics)

3 comments:

Rogue Mutt said...

I love this concept of "dark matter." We can't figure out what's going on, so let's just chalk it up to something no one can see and measure! In accounting we call that "cooking the books" or "fudging the numbers."

Another note for you: "Dark Matter" by Andrew Bird is a great song. I love the opening lines: "When I was just a little boy I put away all of my action toys as I became obsessed with Operation."

Briane P said...

This was like A Skeptic's Poem On The Universe. Interestingly written and provocative. Rogue Mutt linked me to your blog, so I'll be checking in from time to time.

I'd like to know your thoughts on this:

http://www.troublewithroy.com/2010/03/best-way-to-prove-scientists-are-making.html

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Thanks for the song and link recommendations, Rogue and Briane!

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