Matter and Energy - The Dark Side

Sunday, June 2, 2019
First Aired: 
Thursday, October 6, 2016

What is it

All the matter we have ever observed accounts for less than 5% of the universe. The rest? Dark energy and dark matter: mysterious entities that we only know about from their interactions with other matter. We infer their existence to satisfy our laws—but are we justified in making conclusions about what we cannot directly measure? How far can we trust our scientific laws? Where do we cross the line from theoretical science to metaphysics, and can the two overlap? John and Ken see the light with Priya Natarajan from Yale University, author of Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos.

Part of our series A Philosophical Guide to the Cosmos.

Comments (2)

Marcel-Marie LeBel's picture

Marcel-Marie LeBel

Sunday, December 23, 2018 -- 5:31 PM

Dark Matter and Dark Energy

Dark Matter and Dark Energy

A substance is what we interact with to produce an “experience”. Essentially our reality is the sum of all our experiences.

In the present context, a cause is a logical reason for something to happen. Because it is “logical” it normally follows or is spontaneous. Then, the “Cause” is a logical reason for something to happen spontaneously.
The universe has existed and evolved for 13.8 By before we showed up to experience it. We require a substance to account for this long existence, as well as a (type of) cause to explain its spontaneous evolution, all before we started making our reality out of it.

The universe obeys the rule of non-contradiction. Its behavior is well described by mathematics which is based on logic. The universe is a logical substantial system.

As a logical system, the universe works by simple logical operations at the most fundamental level. Such a substantial logical system is allowed only one type of substance or one nature. This is because only elements of a same nature – same substance may participate in a logical operation.

Since the whole universe is allowed to contain only one type of substance, the Cause has to be some aspect of that single type of substance.

Everything in the universe is made of the same substance which may be found in different forms. For example, a clock must measure Time via a logical operation between the two of them. The clock is obviously a more complex form of the substance. Time is a simpler form of the substance. We will say Time is the name of the substance. In other words, the clock is made of time, but a more complex for of it.

We know that Time goes at different rate here and there, like in a gravitational field. This tells us that the substance “Time” is actually a dynamic process and the local rate of its evolution is a variable.

The substance has a variable. How then is the substance recognized as the same substance in all its different forms. The substance must have a property or “constant” throughout all its different forms. (Think like the Planck)

If, for some of the substance A, the value of this property somehow changes from A to B, the substance with the B value for the property becomes a different substance for it is not logically operational with substance A. Then, the substance with the B value for the property belongs to the B universe. The A and B universes could be overlapping without any logical operations happening between the two. In other words, they are non-existent with respect to each other because they are not logically operational with each other.

(Say you have a magic bottle that could contain any substance. You could fill it with substance A. You could then also fill it with substance B because to substance B, the bottle is empty since it does not interact logically with a different substance. Of course, one could imagine some sort of such magic bottle at the Big Bang where piles of universes A, B, C, D ... etc. would be filling it for the sake of squeezing as much as possible into the small bottle... Let us imagine something a bit more complicated, like the property is not constant but rather oscillates between values A and B. That substance, in our universe A, would seem to appear and disappear without explanation... (Try something, anything and see if it fits the data... )

A substantial logical system allows only one type of cause. There is no simple logical rule to determine which of the two causes has precedence... One example of this only type of cause allowed involving the rate of time is known as gravity.

‘ .. A more accurate way of summarizing the lessons of General Relativity is that gravity does not cause time to run differently in different places (e.g., faster far from the earth than near it). Gravity is the unequable flow of time from place to place. It is not that there are two separate phenomena, namely gravity and time and that the one, gravity, affects the other. Rather the theory states that the phenomena we usually ascribe to gravity are actually caused by time’s flowing unequably from place to place... “Bill Unruh arXiv:gr-qc/9312027v2 17 Dec 1993

In conclusion, to me, Dark Matter and Dark Energy could simply be the modern names for the “Substance and Cause” of Ontology or Natural Metaphysics.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, May 12, 2019 -- 12:14 PM

As with other remarks I have

As with other remarks I have offered on other previous posts, I took the way-back machine to October, 2016 and some things I said about Roger Penrose, and so on. Whatever the 95% comprises, matter; energy, dark or not so much, we probably will never have definitive proof, one way or another. OUR scientific laws are only as good as what they allow us to discover, empirically. It is something like what I recently offered concerning infinity: not a destination; not an achievement; none of us can ever 'get there' because there is no 'there' to get to. If we cannot measure something, either quantitatively or qualitatively, it would seem futile to assign any properties to it. I realize cosmologists must grapple with abstractions and formulate speculations. They are educated to do so and their use of mathematics to examine (to whatever extent) plausibility; possibility; and probability, is only useful if it delivers results, in some way measurable. The scientific law thing is slippery, at best. And, to this observer, it appears likely there are things we will never know---or as Rumsfeld's Corollary held: unknown unknowns. So, let the cosmologists and physicists continue their important work. As for the rest of us, we will have to be content pounding sand... unless someone discovers some new scientific laws, while also understanding what those mean.



Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor of Astronomy, Yale University


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