The Contracting Universe

 
  Welcome to the Autumn 2015 issue of Scifihorizons!
  For the last few years I’ve been attempting to construct an argument sufficiently strong enough to at least present a creditable challenge to the current model of the formation of the Universe. At this point, I feel like I have succeeded. When I began this series of articles, I had no idea where it would lead. If you had told me seven or eight years ago that I’d end up here, now, propounding a theory of a Contracting Universe, I would have laughed. And yet, here we are, right?
  TUT is going to take few months off (my head deserves the rest) but will be returning sometime during the first half of 2016. Our next “printing,” which should be out before the end of the year, will be a NEW issue of Scifihorizons! But for now, though, all I can say is, prepare to be amazed!!!!
  Enjoy!
 

The All-Conquering Darkness

  A supercomputer simulation which appeared in the January 2015 issue of National Geographic caught my attention a few months ago. It was, quite simply, a “photograph” of the Universe. If you haven’t seen this simulation yet, then I think you might want to take a look at it, because what you’ll see really is both majestic and thought provoking.
  For those of you who haven’t seen it, allow me to give a very brief description of what this simulation purports to show.
  In the foreground there are three main regions of bright dots which immediately attract the eye. One is to the middle right and slightly below the center line of the frame. The next region is to the far left of the picture, and at the same level vertically as the first. The third main region is below and slightly to the left of the second one. In each of these regions there are sparkling clouds of light spread throughout. And each cloud of light is made up of many smaller dots. But these glowing pinpricks of light are not galaxies, they are galaxy clusters. That is the type of scale we’re dealing with in this simulation. All three of the aforementioned regions are imbedded within, and connected to one another by, an immense cloud of dark matter. This titanic cloud is so incredibly huge that it seems to extend out of both the right and left sides of the frame. Stretching far above and below the roughly horizontal spire of dark matter which encloses these three regions there is a tangled spider’s web of lesser arms, which crisscross the Universe. In many places one strand joins into another, and there are junctions where three or more meet. At the heart of these junctions, just as all throughout these various dark matter strands and pools, there are tiny pinpricks of light. (This is especially true at the junctions where three or more arms meet.) In the smallest arms, (those that are only about as large in circumference as, say, the region of space occupied by our local galactic cluster) at the point where one or more galactic clusters have formed, the web-like strand appears to be dissipating, leaving the pool of dark matter where the galactic clusters formed hanging, like a balloon, at the end a slender thread of dark matter. But this is only taking place at this lowest scale. There are larger strands of dark matter here, too, and many of them appear to have circumferences so immense that they dwarf the smaller strands. Many spider-like bits of dark matter webbing are connected to these larger strands, or arms, and they show no signs of fading. As to the far background, essentially, all the empty spaces in between these dark matter webs, these are colored a pale violet grey. This wan grey backlighting is, we are told, dark energy.
  Here is what the scientific community says we are seeing. The web-like strands of dark matter exist because dark matter pushed some matter halfway (or more) across the Universe to shove it into one particular pocket. That, they say, is the reason for the myriad strands which we are seeing. Dark energy, they say, is filling in all the empty spaces, and stretching the fabric of spacetime as it does. Due to this expansion of the void, which is occurring at a pace that is faster than the speed of light, all of these galaxies and galaxy clusters are moving further away not only from us, but each other. Basically, this is how astrophysicists interpret this simulation.
  Here’s what I see.
  As anyone familiar with this site already knows, I maintain that what we call our Universe is actually what we call Matter. (Which is stars, moons, and planets, and everything else in the Universe, both great and small, that is not dark matter or dark energy. That is our Universe of Matter.) Also, I go even further and say that our Universe is surrounded by, and floats suspended in, an ocean of dark matter, whose volume is so large that to us it would literally seem to be infinite.
  So, the first thing I see when I look at this supercomputer simulation is the enormous amount of empty space. To me this is quite significant because I believe that all the dark matter contracting around our Universe of light once occupied this space, and may have done so for gulfs of time uncounted, until all the Matter which makes up our Universe was introduced into this medium. At which point dark matter began to move towards Matter, to encompass it, enclose it, and push it into pockets, then to begin to squeeze these pockets, and that it was from this interaction with Matter what we call our Universe was born. I don’t see galaxy clusters being pushed halfway across the void-instead, I see galaxy clusters forming in the midst these monstrous strands of dark matter. And as to the strands of dark matter themselves, what I see when I look at this simulation are massive feeder lines, just like those fragile tendrils that connect globes of dust to their parent nebulas. I believe the same process is going on here, as well. These gigantic tendrils are feeding additional dark matter to all the places in the Universe where large amounts of Matter are already concentrated. And they are drawing all that dark material from the near limitless ocean of dark matter that lies beyond the edges of the known Universe. And remember those smallest feeder lines, the one where galactic clusters had formed within them and the rest of the tendril appeared to be dissipating? Well, I think these tendrils were minor pipelines which once led to the larger clusters of dark matter, and when small clusters of galaxies formed within them, these galaxies began attracting all the dark matter coming down the pipe, which is why the other section of the line, the one that was connected to a greater mass of dark matter, was shut down. (Because the group of galactic clusters was using up all the dark matter that was being sent its way, there was simply nothing left to pass along down the line, and so the line collapsed.) But there’s more! Do you remember those mid-sized, and even truly massive strands of dark matter, the ones where larger galaxy clusters had formed inside them, not just at one point, but all down the line? Well, I think that all of these lines were moving whatever Matter they came into contact with as they coalesced from the boundless, placid cloud of dark matter that must have existed before Matter was introduced, and that by some process all the Matter these conduits of dark matter had picked up along the way and were carrying started to accumulate in one spot. As to how this was done-well, it seems possible that there were eddies within these gigantic pipelines of dark matter, especially in the most massive ones, and, as Matter was being swept along, it accumulated in these eddies, which led to the formation of all those groups of galactic clusters that we see imbedded within the tendrils of dark matter. Or, it could be that these strands may have originally contained multiple junctions with multiple inflows of dark matter, which led to the formation of these same groups of clusters. At some point in the past the smaller tendrils feeding these junctions no longer became necessary, and so they collapsed. Lastly, as to those junctions, great and small, where multiple lines meet and end? Well, what we are seeing here are those pockets I’ve been telling you about-pockets in space where all matter is shoved into, from every conceivable direction, and then endlessly compacted. And as to all that empty space? Well, it’s just empty space. There is no such thing as dark energy. All that dark matter that is now constricted so tightly about our Universe once had to have filled that space. And now it is drawn close around all the matter in the Universe. The thing scientists should be amazed by is how something that has so a much greater volume than the total mass of all Matter in the Universe, could be compacted into such a small space, and yet still need feeder lines to draw in even more material. (That’s the thing that really blows my mind.) So why is everything getting further and further away? It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. You see, the Universe isn’t expanding, Matter is contracting. Dark matter is busily compacting all of the Matter in the Universe, and has been doing so since the beginning of time. As to all of those galaxies out there-you don’t need to worry about them. They aren’t getting further away. They, we, and all the other Matter that makes up our Universe, is just shrinking.
 

The Mega Planet
Or
How to Build a Star without even trying

  One of the biggest problems I’ve had to face during the last few years is this-how does a star form? I mean, I already had worked it out in my head, I knew how stars were born. With gravity, as soon as the first star started to form in a nebula, using the motions created by its formation and mass, then I could easily build every other star in the aforementioned nebula. But, I couldn’t build the first star. Not, at least, with gravity.
  Despite all my efforts, I kept coming up with (initially) a solid rocky core, around which hydrogen began to accumulate. Now, as to how and why only hydrogen was going there, I couldn’t make any sense of that. Anyone who has read the Life, the Universe, and Everything article which I wrote previously (located near the bottom of this page) will know that there was a lot happening in the globe of dust, and how or why just one object could receive an exclusive amount of any specific gas or solid-well, it just couldn’t.
  Then, I tried focusing on a nebula, and building a star out of it using dark matter. And not only did it work, but I was able to turn the entire nebula into stars!
  Let me show you how it’s done!
  First, we need to take a look at all those billowing clouds of stardust call Nebulae. And as we do we need to realize that there isn’t what we’d call traditional weather in space. And certainly no air pressure. So, when we see billowing clouds in space, then something funny is going on because many nebulae (probably the more freshly minted ones) don’t have these familiar, stormcloud shapes. Okay, so what’s up with that?
  What we are seeing in these billowing clouds is dark matter at work. It is taking measured portions of Matter and compressing them into globes of dust. Why does dark matter simply not take the whole nebula and make one huge star out of it? Haven’t got a clue (yet). But it is fascinating how, like some conscientious cook, dark matter leavens out enough for the basic recipe and makes a star, while right beside one slowly bulging dome another is starting to form. And that is why we see billowing starclouds, because dark energy is happily building one or more stars within each billow. In following this process, dark matter teaches us a curious fact. From the macro all the way down to almost the micro scale, dark matter apportions out Matter in smaller amounts, and begins to compact it. This is probably the reason why the entire Universe isn’t just one giant galaxy. Dark matter creates larger pockets, then fills them. Then, within these pockets dark matter divides Matter again, and starts to compact it. And then the process is repeated, over and over again; from the largest galactic cluster right down to the smallest grain of dust. So, dark matter does have rules that it plays by, and this is one of them.
  Dark matter takes a portion of nebular cloud, and begins to compact it. And as it does, the material within starts to get hotter, and hotter. And chemical reactions start to occur, creating more complex elements. Hydrogen, along with enough heavy elements to create a Moon or Earth sized body, settle into the center of the quickly forming globe of dust. The globe of dust becomes a chemical factory, creating more and more new elements and gases. At the heart of the globe of dust, the gas giant that will one day be a star continues to form. Once it begins to rotate, the planets begin to form, and once the planets have formed and they begin to rotate, they spin up moons, too.
  All of this continues right up until the star ignites, and then everything changes. Dramatically.
  (For the next bit we’re going to use our own star, Sol, as our example, to see how this relates directly to us.)
  While I hate to even entertain the idea, the most likely scenario is that the Sun exploded into life (I’d much rather the Sun smolder and slowly ignite, but the evidence we see all around us says that’s not so). The globe of dust from which we sprang still surrounded a large amount of space, and our Solar System sat right at the heart of it. But, as soon as Sol burst into life, it threw out a massive wave of heat and light. This colossal wave of energy moved out and away from the Sun in every direction, not just laterally along the center line where the planets had formed. The wave swept up all the material of a certain size and smaller (from grains of dust to asteroids) and carried this material directly out and away from the Sun. (Imagine the Sun with a great big ball expanding around it like a balloon.) This expanding wave crashed all the ring systems around the planets in the inner solar system, cratering the surfaces of every planet and moon inside the orbit of Jupiter. (Although, it should be noted that it was the moons that took the brunt of these impacts, since they were already located within said ring systems.) Whatever ring systems Mercury or Venus might have had were blown away, while the size of our Moon, plus its lover’s embrace with this planet, helped in part to hold it in place. But only partly. Although we are only out as far now as the orbit of Earth, the wave is starting to lose steam. The wave appears to be weakening noticeably by the time it reaches Mars, because two ring fragments, partially formed moons, still remain in orbit around the red planet. The fact that there are so many asteroids in the Belt (really big asteroids) also seems a strong indication that the wave was losing a lot of momentum by the time it reached that region. The most likely reason for this is that as the wave expanded and compacted more material, this bunching up of stuff began to slow its original impetus. By the time the wave reached the edge of what we consider to be the “planetary” part of the solar system, it had lost most of its energy, which is why all those objects were spat out there, and continued to drift further out into the solar system. Eventually the Sun caught most of them before they got away, and they settled into more stable orbits. Still, it can even be argued that a hot ring of dust was dumped into the Kuiper Belt, out beyond Pluto, made up mainly of leftovers from the inner solar system, and, that before that region cooled, additional dwarf planet formation may have taken place. However, that balloon like wave was still expanding. Now, along the center line where the planets were located, there was a lot of material, but that was not the case everywhere else. Once again, evidence indicates that there was a misty, opaque globe of dust at that time, which may have extended right up to the surface of the gas giant Sun. Keep in mind that until shortly after the Sun ignited, we still had a tendril of dust attached to our globe of dust, which was the tendril our globe of dust was using to draw material from our parent nebula. Bottom line is, there was still a lot of dust and gases falling into the solar system, even after the Sun exploded into life. The dust which was not on that center line, where the planets could be found, still continued to expand in a circular bubble, and apparently, this material was still carrying some heat while it did. Why? Because, by the time that misty cloud reached the outer edges of the globe of dust, that is where a globe of comets formed. (There is a globe of comets which encircles our entire solar system and it’s located about two light years out.) Simply by their presence, these comets show us the shape and size of the globe of dust within which our Solar System was born. There is no longer any question about the globe of dust. Its outlines are easy to see. Our own private little dark matter pocket.
  For those of you who understand exactly what I just said (and note that this is the first time in Human History that one of us has been able to put all this together), you’re welcome!
 

Starwalkers

  I’ve been wondering for some time now about the whole speed of light thing. How dark energy can spread apart the Universe faster than light, and yet it is supposedly impossible for us to travel at such speeds. To which I say-well, it’s not polite to print what I say to such a patently ridiculous statement.
  After giving the problem much thought, I came up with what appeared to be an equitable solution. But, before I could print it here, a scientist came up with a theory that closely resembled my own. So closely, in fact, that I was forced to reconsider the issue at some length. But that may have been the best thing, after all, because I’m starting to see space travel in a whole new light.
  Before going any further, I’m going to give you a basic outline of the theory that the scientist came up with, and then tell you what I had in mind, and what I chanced upon after further consideration.
  This scientist (sorry, I didn’t catch the name-he was already well into his spiel before he caught my attention) proposed that we could partially cancel out dark matter as we traveled through space, and that this would lower the natural resistance of dark matter to the passage of matter through it at near relativistic speeds. Neat, huh? But there was more-once we had lessened the effect of the proceeding wave of dark matter, the one that was resisting us, the following wave, the one that was pushing us, would accelerate us even greater speeds. So, not only would it push the spacecraft along, but, the faster you go, then the harder the following wave would push. Using this type of approach could allow us to slice through interstellar space at what would seem to be unbelievably fantastic speeds.
  Beautiful theory, isn’t it? Truly elegant. Well done, sir!
  And almost (but not quite) what I had in mind. You see, I think that over time, and possibly within a very short span, we’re going to learn more about the true nature of dark matter and dark energy. And, as we do, we’ll also develop theories about canceling its effects. So, my idea was to take a dark matter canceling beam, wave, or whatever form it ultimately took, and place it on the forward most point of the spacecraft. Cancel (read eliminate) the dark matter directly in front of the ship, and then enter that point in space only the tiniest fraction of a second after you did. As long as you got the timing right, then you could travel so fast that you might be able to reach the other side of the galaxy in mere days, or take a trip to one of our nearest companion galaxies, Andromeda, in only a few weeks or months. Without dark matter to hold you back, the only limit on your speed is the one set by the structural integrity of your ship.
  Some of you are probably holding up your hands right now, so let me answer the question before you ask-since we’re canceling out the effects of dark matter, we don’t need to worry about running into any objects in space because, without the compression provided by dark matter, such objects will dissipate. They will cease to be, and so will not be an issue. However, what this does mean is that we will have to plot our course carefully, since we don’t want to flash through the heart of some massive star, or a living planet. Although we wouldn’t notice a thing from our vantage point inside the ship, the consequences for any object (of any appreciable size) that we encountered during our journey would be catastrophic. We might have to plan our travels in a series of jumps, just to avoid such encounters.
  To me, at least, the main benefit from having such a mode of propulsion would be the relatively small size of the engine. Since we’re canceling out dark matter, we don’t need a massive engine to push us. This would leave a lot of empty space inside our craft that we’ve never had before. Which means that while this sort of travel might never be luxurious, it could certainly be made more comfortable.
  As to the following wave pushing us along at even higher speeds, well, I missed that one entirely. As ironic as it seems, me, the guy who has be promoting this idea, first as a gravity bow wave, and then later as a circular, shield shaped wave created by a dark matter compression sphere, yet I still managed overlook the effects of the following wave completely.
  Once again, kudos to you, sir.
  All right then-he had a good idea, and so did I, but he beat me to the punch, which meant that before I could go to press, I’d have to take it a little further. So, after some additional contemplation, here’s what I came up with.
  As strange and otherworldly as dark matter seems to be, still, it has certain rules which it follows. In space the behavior of dark matter is almost akin to that of a liquid, and I think that this is how we should view that medium when we think about using it for interstellar travel.
  Now we know that once we learned to fly, we had to constantly change the shape of the craft to fly faster, just as we had to change the shapes of ships and submarines to increase their speed. So, when it comes to traveling in space, over time I believe we’re going to find that certain shapes move through the void more efficiently than others. But, simply streamlining the shape may not be the answer. In fact, it may turn out that what we might otherwise consider to be a non-Euclidean shape could be the most conducive to interstellar journeys. The composition of the spacecraft (what it’s made of) may also be critically important. Just as a specific shape and special materials can stealth a plane enough to fool radar, we may, by using some as yet undetermined construction materials, be able to “fool” dark matter, as well.
  Mathematics may solve this, or it may be accomplished through trial and error. (First we have to get out there, of course.)
  However, there is another element we have thus far ignored, and it is central to this whole discussion. And that element is time. You see, if we travel faster than light, then the whole Einstein paradox thing kicks in. Travel faster than light and, according to the most reliable estimates, you go back in time. The higher your rate of speed, the more pronounced your dislocation in time. Now, I don’t agree with the previous statement at all, and here is why. The main way which most humans perceive our world is through photons of light, and so our lives are ordered around that time frame. To go faster than light is to exceed our rate of apprehension, which seems impossible to us. Go faster than light, leave the frame of our perception, and you must be going back in time. But I don’t think you are. It is my belief that if you travel faster than the speed of light, you’re really just going very, very fast.
  But what if that isn’t the case? What if Einstein was right?
  One of the principal obstacles to traveling faster than light (other than the fact that we don’t have a suitable power source) is that the closer you get to the speed of light, the more time seems to slow. So that by the time you have attained the speed of light, time almost seems to stop. But this is only for a passenger onboard the spacecraft. Outside, in the Universe that exists beyond their slowed bubble of reality, time is still passing at its normal rate. This is why a trip to the quad Alpha Centauri system, our nearest interstellar neighbor, would take slightly over four and one half years traveling at or near the speed of light to get there, and it would require the same amount of time to return. At least, as far as the passengers on our spacecraft were concerned. Meanwhile, back here on Earth, decades would have passed during the intervening period. The family and friends which our erstwhile astronauts left behind would either be ancient by the time they returned, or dead and buried. Which means that anyone who chose to embark upon such a journey would quite literally be giving up everything, just to make the trip.
  Maybe not.
  If it is indeed possible to travel faster than light, then your journey simply becomes of matter of pacing out your speed so that you travel back in time while on the way to your destination, then slow down to just below the speed of light so that you can travel forward in time before you arrive. All we need to do is to balance out the difference between faster than light and near the speed of light travel, and you can still take that trip to Alpha Centauri, and the same amount of time will pass for you on your spacecraft, as passes here on Earth. So, as far as you and your family and friends are concerned, you will have been apart for the same amount of time. Four and one half years to get there, a year to explore the system, and four and one half years to get back-with no time dilation or dislocation. It’s all simply a matter of working out how fast you need to go, and how slow you need to go, so that everything balances out. Then, both our astronauts, and the near and dear ones they left behind, would believe that they had been apart for the same amount of time (which, technically, they would have been).
  Breaking the speed of light barrier (the SLB) would also be a boon to the communications industry. Right now the delay between here and the Moon is roughly the same as it is when talking to someone on the other side of our planet. We’ve all seen this during a news broadcast. Whenever people on one side of the Earth talk to people on the other side of the Earth, we all wait patiently, and usually a bit uncomfortably, for the response. Now, if there is such a noticeable delay between talking to someone on the far side of the Earth (or on the Moon), then you can imagine what it would be like trying to talk to a person on Mars, which is still over thirty-four million miles away even when it passes closest to Earth. Think about the lag time on that, and then remember that that is when Mars is close to us. But, if we accelerate our messages to faster than the speed of light, and the person on Mars does the same, then they can speak in what both of them would perceive as “real time.” There would be no perceptible delay (unless somebody failed to time out their communications properly).
  Not only would the ability to communicate faster than light be of great help when making contact over long distances, but it would also allow us to use robotic systems in real time, even if they were located in the outermost reaches of our solar system. The operator could give the machine instructions, and then immediately seen the results of their actions, without having to wait minutes, hours, or even days to see what happened. With faster than light communications, it would be possible to hold a conversation with someone on the far side of the galaxy with no noticeable lag.
  Sounds kinda kewl, right? But, before we can do any of this we have to get past the greatest scientific barrier of all to faster than light travel-the entrenched scientific community which says that such a thing is impossible. While privately any astrophysicist worth their salt will tell you, “when the money is there, we’ll figure out how to travel at, or faster, than the speed of light,” in public they all toe the line. They tell us that the speed of light is the limiting factor for all matter in the Universe, and that humankind will never be able to travel at or even near the speed of light, much less go any faster. Ultimately, this comes down more to politics than to science. Many scientists (but not all) suspect that the SLB can be reached, and possibly even broken. But, for a variety of reasons (which I will not detail here) they refuse to go on record with any statements that will contradict the party line. Nor will they pursue lines of investigation that could lead to faster than light travel. (It is my personal opinion that this kind of pandering seems to be more appropriate to the sly machinations of snake oil salesmen than to the efforts of earnest, hard-working scientists.)
  So, we can go to the stars, and maybe, just maybe, we can even get there very, very fast. But, before we can start making plans for such a journey, there are a few problems we have to deal with here, first. And they may be some of the most insurmountable problems of all, because, when it comes to traveling to the stars, our greatest obstacle is not the Universe, but ourselves.
 

Cure for the Disease

  Recently, as I perused the interactions of matter with dark matter, a curious and very unsettling notion occurred to me. In fact, of all the things that I tell you here (and all the things I don’t) this one troubles me the most. So, if you choose to read on, then remember, you were warned.
  Astrophysicists appear to be at least partially right about the whole big bang thing-originally, there was an expansion of the Universe, and when this initially took place, matter was thrown willy-nilly. But, the near infinite (by our standards, at least) cloud of dark matter that surrounds our Universe immediately begin to collapse in upon this expanding matter, and then started to compress it into pockets, which led to the formation of galactic clusters. Essentially, what this means is that, while there technically was an expansion of matter just after the big bang, and that matter did spread out over a vast amount of space in a very, very short amount of time, the mere act of its expansion triggered an opposing response, the contraction and compression of said matter by dark matter, which not only interrupted but reversed that expansion, almost as soon as it began. And that led to the formation of the galaxies, and us.
  Now, here’s the part that bothers me. Dark matter reacts to matter in almost the same way that anti-bodies react to disease in the body. Like dark ‘white’ blood cells, dark matter clusters around matter and makes it smaller and smaller, so that, like an infection, it slowly fades away. Our reality of light and love and laughter must truly be an anathema to the darkness, for it seems that dark matter is determined to erase us, and all the rest of the Universe, from existence. To what purpose, it is impossible to say. And, at the moment, dark matter is doing a great job in its self-appointed task. Even more surprisingly, this is actually a good thing, because our very existence depends on this continuing interaction of matter and the dark forces. Their combined efforts not only shape the entire Universe, but they also hold everything together. Therefore, we have no choice but to revel in our destruction, for without the contraction of matter by dark matter, we, and all that is, was, or ever will be, would simply not exist. Which means that we live because of the cure, even as it destroys us.
  Remember, I warned you.
 

Another Round of Applause for the Big Guy

  Albert Einstein. Think of all the images which just the mention of that name conjures in your mind. That he was one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century (or any other century, for that matter) is one of the most widely acknowledged “truths” that we, as Humankind, adhere too. Einstein, through his equations, gave us a tantalizing glimpse into the innermost workings of the Universe. (A very privileged glimpse, as Einstein saw it, into the actual mind of God.) And we honor him for all he accomplished in bringing us this revelation, as well as the many new lines of scientific investigation which he opened to all Humankind.
  That said, I’m going to do something here that I rarely ever do. I’m going to issue a partial retraction to an earlier statement made in a previous issue regarding this particular gentleman. In a previous issue I stated that Einstein had been saddled with the phantom force of gravity (not his fault, since nobody knew about the dark forces then), and, because of this, then his great theory must be seriously flawed. That statement was partially incorrect, as further mental gymnastics have shown me.
  Here’s how brilliant Einstein was, kids. Einstein, without even knowing about the existence of the dark forces, managed to describe the interactions between matter and dark matter and dark energy. He even had a name for the invisible, unseen force he had discovered, which was space/time, and he called this stuff the fabric of the Universe. Although he ultimately decided on using an expanding Universe as his model, rather than the disconcerting reality of a contracting Universe with which we are actually faced, still, this choice was a matter of personal outlook (and a hopeful one at that) more than anything else. It’s easy to see why, of course. The thought that we, as well as all other matter in the Universe, are being constantly compacted by dark matter at slightly more than half the speed of light, and that time is simultaneously accelerating at a speed commensurate with the rate of that contraction-well, the whole concept does seems rather bizarre and intimidating, doesn’t it? (And if Einstein had chosen to lay down that particular slice of reality down on the world, then it’s possible that we might not remember him with the fondness that most of us do.) But, as has already been noted, since Einstein knew nothing about the true nature of the dark forces that his equations had uncovered, much less the sheer volume of said dark forces (a volume so great that it dwarfs the known Universe), then the possibility (and the promise) of an expanding Universe must have been not only more appealing to him personally, but he must have also understood that such a concept would also be a heckuva lot easier to sell to the world at large. (Which, as reality has shown us, it quite obviously was.)
  No matter how you choose to look at it, the fact remains that this esteemed professor was able to describe, through mathematics alone, a substance (actually substances) of which he knew absolutely nothing at all. And in doing so he fired the imagination of an entire planet. This, more than anything else, is a testament to the man’s true brilliance. As we uncover more and more new data over the next few decades, I think that we are going to come to a better appreciation of just how great an intellect Einstein possessed, just how deeply he could see into ‘the mind of God.’ So, in consideration of this, how’s about another round of applause for the big guy!
 

Dark Worlds

  After studying those tangled, galactic cluster sized cords of dark matter, the ones which seem to stretch across the Universe, and then seeing the clusters of galaxies that had formed within some of them, a rather disturbing thought suddenly occurred to me. Since dark matter does behave like Matter, at least in some instances, then that meant that, just as galactic clusters could form in the very midst of a monstrous stream of dark matter, then it follows that not only dark planets, but entire dark planetary systems could form in the stems that connect the globes of dust to their parent nebulas.
  What this means is, that in a truly massive globe of dust, such as the one that our nearby neighbor star, Sirius, may have formed in, entire solar systems of rocky planets, and/or gas giant planets, complete with dark moons to orbit them, may have been created in much the same fashion. The difference between these smaller, planetary systems is that they have no sun, no central star. The central body in such systems is a large planet, most likely a gas giant of some size. So they are dark systems, with a gas giant, surrounded by smaller gas giants (or rocky worlds) with only the light of the distant stars to create slightly darker shadows on their surface. Such systems (or single worlds) would be difficult to pick up telescopically, even if you knew exactly where to look. With so little light falling upon them, they would be very faint, perhaps even dimmer than the glow of the most distant galaxies, making them very hard to see. The best chance of catching them (at the moment) is probably when these worlds occult stars. Of course, you’d have to be looking for them, and know what you were seeing, to interpret them properly. Otherwise, such an occultation would be simply be classified as a passing asteroid, or some much closer dark world, such as one of those beyond the orbit of Pluto, in the outer reaches of the solar system.
  A dark world, or a dark system, would form in much the same way as what we consider to be the main part of our own solar system, but with one glaring difference-no globe of dust. Without the globe of dust much of the chemicals manufactured by it would be absent. Which would mean no central star, only a dark gas giant, in many ways quite similar to Jupiter or Saturn, or even a dark rocky world that could be even larger than say, Earth and Venus combined. Just as our own planets formed around the gas giant sun, other planets would be spun into existence around this central object, and if they grew large enough, then they would spin up one or more companions of their own.
  So how, exactly, does this affect us? Well, it’s possible that such a situation as the one described above could have catastrophic consequences for our solar system, as well as for all life on Earth. How, you may ask?
  Allow me to explain.
  We know that since its birth, our planet has suffered repeated cataclysms and mass extinctions. They occur on such a regular basis that these events can be fairly accurately mapped. Roughly every thirty million years or so, the Earth undergoes a major cataclysm and/or a mass extinction. It happens like clockwork, right? And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it, except to hope we have time to prepare. (Keep in mind, the very fact that we are here shows that we, or our ancestors, have survived every previous cataclysm and mass extinction that has taken place. So we should be okay for the next one, too.)
  As those of you playing along on the home version will already know, I’ve speculated on the cause of this phenomenon in a previous issue. It was noted that the one big thing we have in our sky that runs more or less like clockwork is our Sun, and I postulated that the sun was responsible for said periodic extinctions. I still stand by that hypothesis. However, after due consideration, I am now willing to put forward another potential world killing culprit. And this one is the most sinister of all, because it is almost impossible to catch it in the act.
  Over time there has been some speculation that our Sun might have a darker companion. The belief is that a small brown dwarf star may orbit far away from our own star, and that it only passes close to our solar system every thirty million years or so. And this object is what sets the outermost parts of the solar system in motion, eventually leading to the calamities we’re subjected to here. Like the dark worlds and systems we’ve been discussing, a small and very dim brown dwarf would be difficult to detect. And, so far, no such object has been detected.
  What if it’s not a brown dwarf that’s causing all the commotion? What if it’s something even harder to detect? Like a massive dark gas giant, with attendant moons, that formed in the tendril of dust and gas that connected our globe of dust to its parent nebula? Such a massive planet (think of Jupiter, and then throw in Saturn for good measure), on a long and highly elliptical orbit, could exert profound influences on our solar system, and we would never be aware of its existence. Why? Because it lies “below” what we consider to be the plane of the solar system, which is the one place nobody would be looking for it!
  The orbit of such and object is what concerns me most. Every time I run this simulation in my head, here is what I see: the tendril of dust and gas which connects our globe of dust to the parent nebula collapses after the Sun ignites. Part of that material is still drawn sunward, into what will be our solar system. The rest falls back, down towards the dark planet that has been forming a light year or more below us. The dark planet accepts as much material as it can gather, and spins some of it up into moons. But it is not nearly as massive as the globe of dust, and so cannot continue to draw a constant flow from the nebula. Which means the tendril of dust continues to collapse, and as it does, the material closest to the dark world is added to that system, while the rest of the column falls back into the nebula.
  All right, seems pretty clear cut so far, but here’s where the whole thing starts to get tricky. No matter how many times I run this simulation in my head what happens is that as the tendril continues to fall back into the nebula, at first it actually pulls the dark world (or system) along with it. Keep in mind, while the mass of the tendril was nowhere near that of our solar system, it’s circumference was probably still larger than what we tend to think of as the planetary part of our solar system (in other words, from the center of the Sun to as far out as Pluto), which would mean that the column of dust and gas would have had a great deal of volume, and an appreciable amount of mass. This is why the dark world follows it at first, because all that mass so close by actually exerts more influence than our solar system. So the dark world follows it, but does so only slowly, very slowly. As the tendril continues to fall down and away, it gets further and further from the dark world, and its pull upon said world begins to lessen. At this point the draw of our own solar system becomes stronger, and the dark world is pulled back towards us. And here is the problem. Every time I run the simulation, the dark world falls back into our solar system. But it obviously has not (although this may explain the existence of some objects in the outermost parts of our solar system). Instead, what appears to be happening is that there is another object out there that we can’t see that is influencing the dark planet. Perhaps it is another dark world or system, or maybe even a dwarf star. But, whatever the reason behind this phenomenon, this object keeps the dark world from falling into our system and looping around the Sun. That is the only explanation I can come up with to keep it from bulldozing its way right into the heart of our solar system.
  There are two more “logical” scenarios, of course. The first is that the dark world moves on a horizontal plane identical to that which all the planets in our solar system moves on, except that it is far below our solar system. In this scenario, the dark planet goes out very, very far, then comes back and loops around the lower portion of the dark matter compression sphere which surrounds our solar system. While this does work, I have a lot of trouble maneuvering the dark world’s orbit into that configuration. It doesn’t want to occur naturally, but when I place the dark world there and then start the simulation with it in that position, it plays out just fine. In the second scenario (the only one most astrophysicists would take seriously) the dark world goes far down and away from the solar system, then loops back and passes relatively close (astronomically speaking) over the top of our solar system, and then starts back on its downward path again. It would be during this rather extended period, while it was passing over the top of our solar system, that it could play havoc with the outermost parts of the solar system, which would lead to not just one, but perhaps multiple disasters in the main portion of our system.
  So, are such dark systems possible? When one considers the volume and the mass of the dust and gas filled tendrils that connect globes of dust to their parent nebulas, I think the answer is a resounding yes. Could there be such a dark world, or system, somewhere near our own which periodically interacts with us? I think that once again, the answer is yes. Is it the sole cause for all the mass extinctions this planet has gone through during the last four and one half billion years? Probably not. I still think the Sun has an important role to play in this drama. However, a rogue dark world with moons, or an entire dark system, which had a very distant orbit of as long as thirty million years, could indeed bear some responsibility for the calamities and mass extinctions that have occurred periodically throughout the geological history of the world. While not a major player (like the Sun could be), such a dark world or worlds could still wreak havoc on all of us, just from passing by.
  Which reminds me-astronomically, as well as geologically, speaking, it’s just about time for another of those catastrophes. Guess I’d better go close the shutters.
 

  That’s it for this issue! Join us again, just before the turning of the year! Until then!!!

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