Deep in an Australian Gold Mine, Dark Matter's Last Stand
If the current experiment doesn't yield positive results, scientists say they will be forced to go back to the drawing board about what makes up dark matter, i.e. 80 percent of the universe.
What's the Latest?
About 80 percent of all the mass in the universe is missing, or least we can't detect it with our scientific instruments. Strange, but true, at least according to our current conception of certain physical laws. Among other functions, this missing mass, which scientists have dubbed dark matter, is what keeps galaxies spiraling instead of being flung apart. So where is the missing stuff? Scientists are looking for it everywhere, including at the bottom of an Australian gold mine. At the bottom of a mine, they figure, all the cosmic rays shooting through the Earth will have been diffused, allowing their new class of instruments to pick up traces of the elusive dark matter.
What's the Big Idea?
The going theory is that dark matter is composed of "weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs, which should occasionally collide with ordinary atoms and create a telltale signal." That signal is what physicists hope to find in Australia. To date, only two instruments (of the many scientists have placed around the globe) have measured WIMPs directly. If the current experiment doesn't yield positive results, scientists say they will be forced to go back to the drawing board. Project leader Elisabetta Barberio of the University of Melbourne said: "If we don't see anything, those experiments [which failed to detect WIMPs] will be right."
Read more at New Scientist
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Research in plant neurobiology shows that plants have senses, intelligence and emotions.
- The field of plant neurobiology studies the complex behavior of plants.
- Plants were found to have 15-20 senses, including many like humans.
- Some argue that plants may have awareness and intelligence, while detractors persist.
Most people think human extinction would be bad. These people aren't philosophers.
- A new opinion piece in The New York Times argues that humanity is so horrible to other forms of life that our extinction wouldn't be all that bad, morally speaking.
- The author, Dr. Todd May, is a philosopher who is known for advising the writers of The Good Place.
- The idea of human extinction is a big one, with lots of disagreement on its moral value.
Since the idea of locality is dead, space itself may not be an aloof vacuum: Something welds things together, even at great distances.
- Realists believe that there is an exactly understandable way the world is — one that describes processes independent of our intervention. Anti-realists, however, believe realism is too ambitious — too hard. They believe we pragmatically describe our interactions with nature — not truths that are independent of us.
- In nature, properties of Particle B may depend on what we choose to measure or manipulate with Particle A, even at great distances.
- In quantum mechanics, there is no explanation for this. "It just comes out that way," says Smolin. Realists struggle with this because it would imply certain things can travel faster than light, which still seems improbable.