Last night I attended a fun event put together by the Illinois Science Council on the science of the spooky. My friend Dan Hooper, an astrophysicist at Fermilab, was presenting on “The physics of ghosts” (specifically: why they wouldn’t work), and it seemed like there might be some opportunity to heckle.
Before Dan, though, there was a talk was on the evidence for “psi” — which is just ESP, but called psi because the proponents know that people realize ESP research is bunk. It was, shall we say, typical of the form: Lots of plots showing effects that are just barely statistically significant, a discussion of how the methodology of previous studies was hopelessly flawed followed by a statement that this one was free of bias, and even a claim that Carl Sagan himself had agreed that psi was worth of study. (You’ll be shocked to learn that the last one was quote-mined.) Yawn.
Dan’s talk was much more entertaining. (more…)
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Very broadly speaking, the universe is made of three things. About 22% of it holds stuff together. This is called dark matter. Another 74% of it is pushing everything apart; this is dark energy. The last 4% is “everything else” and attends to inconsequential details like galaxies, stars, life, light, and Brad Pitt. While a fair amount is known about the last 4%, due to the successful research program known as “almost all science ever done”, very little is known about the first two.
Now, in a stunning breakthrough, we find the theory that dark matter is made of ghosts. Aside from a couple flaws*, the idea makes sense. After all, dark matter got it’s name because you can’t see it, and you can’t see ghosts either.
However, it seems to me much more likely that dark energy is made of ghosts, since dark energy provides a repulsive force and ghosts are scary.
*Specifically, the main flaw is that it’s completely nuts. Pamela gave a nice run-down of why in her post in case you actually needed convincing.
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