Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Off Topic: Dark Matter Hunter

Wired has a story on attempts by physicists to find the elusive Dark Matter that "must" be there. The story, by Brandon Keim notes:
“Even if we don’t know what dark matter is, we know how it must act,” said Eduardo Abancens, a physicist at Spain’s University of Zaragoza and designer of a prototype dark matter detector.

According to physicists, only around five percent of what makes up the universe can presently be detected. The existence of dark matter is inferred from the behavior of faraway galaxies, which move in ways that can only be explained by a gravitational pull caused by more mass than can be seen. They estimate dark matter represents around 20 percent of the universe, with the other 75 percent made up of dark energy, a repulsive force that is causing the universe to expand at an ever-quickening pace.

At the heart of Abancens’ team’s detector, which is called a scintillating bolometer and resembles a prop from The Golden Compass, is a crystal so pure it can conduct the energy ostensibly generated when a particle of dark matter strikes the nucleus of one of its atoms.

Three things struck me about this story. First, it is really cool that modern technology can come to the aid of physicists in this way. Two, this is how science is supposed to work, with hypothetical questions being answered in either confirmation or non-confirmation of a theory (existence of dark matter). Three, if an evolutionist said anything like this, creationists would be sounding it from the rooftops and popping the champagne corks, celebrating the "death of evolution" as a theory. Every day, the Discovery Institute proclaims that evolution cannot explain this, that or the other. Funny how this never seems to apply to cosmology or astrophysics.

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