Dark Quest for Dark Matter

Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog about
the effects of gravity and wondered when we would have a better understanding
of this powerful force.
Earlier this year, we came several steps closer to understanding gravity when
researchers at LIGO
detected gravitational waves.
In my article about gravity, I also commented that “there
may be as much as five times more dark matter
than ordinary matter in the universe.” Dark matter is non-luminous material
that does not interact with radiation (visible light and other portions of the spectrum). At least, that was the accepted understanding of dark
matter at the time; but that view has been called into question in 2016 by the
results of two experiments that failed to detect dark matter despite the
elegant systems established to do just that.
Now researchers are wondering if dark matter exists at all. This is a great
reminder that scientific theories of the universe are ever in flux. What is today
accepted as a model for how things work in our universe may, on the basis of a
few experiments, be discarded tomorrow. Now, let’s be careful here; let’s not
get confused. This does not mean that the scientific method is inaccurate. In
fact, this demonstrates that science is a powerful tool for understanding our
universe. For, if the method truly works, it will find some theories to be
correct and will prove other theories to be incorrect. The fact that these two
experiments failed to find dark matter gives us greater confidence in science,
even as they cause us to question the existence of dark matter.

So, three experiments
in 2016, which all ranked high in the top news stories of the year,
show us that there is still much mystery to our universe. They also show us
that we can trust in the logic and methodology of science. Gravitational waves
are real, and we are uncertain as to the existence of dark matter. What might
2017 teach us?

Dive in!

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