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Mar 03, 2005
Just Add "Dark Matter"

In the picture above, something not seen in the inscribed circle has astronomers excited. At an estimated 50 million light-years from Earth, they found a large mass of hydrogen a hundred million times the mass of the Sun—a galaxy of sorts, but containing no stars.

Hydrogen gas releases radiation that can be detected at radio wavelengths. Using radio telescopes in England and Puerto Rico, a team of investigators detected the massive cloud in the Virgo Cluster. They named it “VIRGOHI21”.

The challenge they faced began with the fact that the cloud is rotating way too fast, in apparent defiance of gravity. Without some other force acting on the cloud it should fly apart. The astronomers assumed this fast rotation must be a gravitational effect of something not visible. As reported in the BBC story on the discovery, “there must be a stronger gravitational force acting than can be accounted for using visible matter”. But this is the same problem posed by galaxies: they rotate too fast for gravity to hold them together. Due to the similarities in rotational dynamics, the investigators of VIRGOHI21 concluded that the remote cloud is a starless “galaxy”, held together by the same invisible stuff that they now claim holds all galaxies together—“dark matter”.

To give their mathematical models of galaxies integrity, astronomers envision a universe of invisible matter at least five times as voluminous as visible matter. So they’ve applied the same theories to the hydrogen cloud, except that the proportions of dark matter are much larger. The theorists were not constrained by any consideration other than the calculation of invisible “mass” using their gravitational equations. In this case, however, adding just a little dark matter would not suffice. According to Dr Robert Minchin, of Cardiff University: "From its speed, we realised that VIRGOHI21 was a thousand times more massive than could be accounted for by the observed hydrogen atoms alone”. (emphasis ours)

One might have thought the investigators would pause in the face of such proportions. To get the results they were looking for, they posited a thousand times more invisible matter than visible matter, with the freedom to place the invisible stuff wherever it is needed for their gravitational equations to work. Is such a leap of faith permissible?  The investigators’ confidence was undimmed. As reported by Dr Jon Davies, one of the Cardiff team members  "The Universe has all sorts of secrets still to reveal to us, but this shows that we are beginning to understand how to look at it in the right way. It's a really exciting discovery."

It sounds as if a leap of faith produced an “exciting” scientific breakthrough.  But this is the kind of “breakthrough” that causes plasma cosmologists to wonder aloud about the state of science today. They know all too well that it does not take “dark matter” to produce the rapid rotation of a vast hydrogen cloud. Even the weakest electric fields imaginable can routinely achieve such results over vast distances. And since magnetic fields and filamentation—the most direct pointers to electric currents—appear everywhere we look in space, the experts on plasma and electricity are growing increasingly impatient with a “science” unwilling to consider the obvious.

Contribution by Michael Armstrong


David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Amy Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Mel Acheson, Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Michael Armstrong

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