Astrophysicist claims "dark fluid" fills the missing 95% of the Universe
An Oxford scientist's controversial theory rethinks dark matter and dark energy.
- An astrophysicist and cosmologist Dr. Farnes published a paper while at Oxford University with a novel explanation for dark energy and dark matter.
- His theory claims to explain the missing 95% of the observable universe by the existence of "dark fluid".
- This fluid has negative mass, repelling other materials.
While it seems we are making great strides in unlocking the mysteries of the Universe, there is a sizable hole in what we know – up to 95% of the cosmos appears to be missing. We are talking about dark matter and dark energy, two useful, groundbreaking, but yet-to-be-directly-observed explanations for the vast majority of what exists. While there have been various attempts to pin down these ideas, inferred from their gravitational effects, a recent theory from a University of Oxford scientist claims to do away with them entirely. Instead, his model proposes something which may be even more unusual – what if the Universe is actually filled with a "dark fluid" possessing "negative mass"?
Dark matter takes up 27% of the known Universe (per NASA), while dark energy, a repulsive force that makes the Universe expand, gets 68%. Only 5% of the Universe is the observable world, including us and our planet. According to the model, proposed by Dr. Jamie Farnes, both dark matter and dark energy are unified in a fluid which has "negative gravity". It repels all other material away.
"Although this matter is peculiar to us, it suggests that our cosmos is symmetrical in both positive and negative qualities," wrote Farnes, astrophysicist, cosmologist and data scientist who worked at Oxford at the time of publishing his paper, and has since moved on to Faculty, a leading AI company.
Negative matter was previously discredited because it was concluded that such a material would become less dense with the further expansion of the Universe. Yet that's not how dark energy seems to be, with research showing it would not thin out over time. The study by Dr. Farnes proposes there's a "creation tensor" that would allow for negative masses to be continuously created and not become diluted, behaving "exactly like dark energy, as the cosmologist explains.
Dr. Farnes sees his work to be building on Albert Einstein's, who in 1917 discovered the cosmological constant, which became associated with dark energy in modern research.
"Previous approaches to combining dark energy and dark matter have attempted to modify Einstein's theory of general relativity, which has turned out to be incredibly challenging," said Dr. Farnes, adding "This new approach takes two old ideas that are known to be compatible with Einstein's theory—negative masses and matter creation—and combines them together."
Check out the dark matter halo simulation created by Dr. Farnes:
This computer simulation is based on the properties of negative mass, predicting the formation of dark matter halos like those inferred by observations via radio telescopes.
Testing the theory by Dr. Farnes will fall to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world's largest telescope to be built in Australia and South Africa between 2020 and 2025. This international radio telescope project would have an area of one square kilometer and be 50 times more sensitive than any other radio instrument in existence.
Since Farnes's theory is speculative at this point, the scientific community has been split in its reviews of his work.
Physicist Krzysztof Bolejko from the University of Tasmania in Australia, said: "Farnes' maths is fine", and that he believes "Inside cosmic voids the signal will be clearer and so it will be easier to distinguish between processes caused by dark energy and those caused by a constantly created matter with negative mass".
Alex Murphy, Professor of Nuclear & Particle Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh, conceded that Farnes's discoveries had an elegance and that "It's one of many efforts trying to provide answers to deeply troubling issues with our understanding of the contents of the universe. It's just possible that an idea like this might provide the breakthrough that's needed".
However, others were more critical with Sabine Hossenfelder from the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, noting that: "negative masses have not revolutionized cosmology" while "Farnes in his paper instead wants negative gravitational masses to mutually repel each other. But general relativity won't let you do this". She also took issue with the "creation tensor," stating "A creation term is basically a magic fix by which you can explain everything and anything".
Further tests will show whether the theory holds, but in the meantime you can read Dr. Farnes's paper yourself in Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Physicist Lisa Randall on Dark Matter:
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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