Do you imagine a vast expanse of open space that fades into an endless inky nothingness?
The sheer enormity of the Universe lends difficulty in conceiving its essential nature. Some imagine an unknowable Infinity, as boundless as it is incomprehensible. Others describe an inherent roundness, wherein an enterprising interstellar explorer charting an unswerving course would inevitably (if time were somehow suspended) find herself returned precisely where she started.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Emerging from a lively planet on the outskirts of the Milky Way Galaxy, human curiosity is the upshot of 4.5 billion years of Earthly evolution. As perhaps the pinnacle of our collective accomplishments, humankind has perforated the protective sheath of our own planet’s atmosphere to venture into parts unknown.
Invoking inimitable ingenuity, we set our feet upon the lunar landscape.
Acting as inter-solar ambassadors, our devices relay extensive data and gather rarefied glimpses of realms far beyond our Earthly reach.
Yet, despite epic leaps in our technological travails, the nature of the Universe remains mysterious. Ironically, as our knowledge of the cosmos accrues, new and evermore confounding questions emerge.
How Big is Space?
When it comes to conceptualizing the cosmos, the sky is literally the limit for Earth denizens. As intrepid neophytes on the cosmic campus, the size and shape of our astral construct corresponds to a chronicle of rather recent discovery. Despite the unquenchable ardor of human curiosity, the breadth of our perspective is often delimited by the dearth of our knowledge. But each discovery advances our scientific acumen. And as history testifies, the more we learn, the broader the scope of our imagination, and the greater the expanse of space.
At the dawn of human domain, prehistoric peoples gazed upward into the night sky and marveled at the mysterious mantle that seemed to shroud the landscape with sprinkles of shimmering speckles.
In the 3rd century b.c.e., the confines of the cosmos swelled to an even broader skyline as Aristotle conjured concentric orbits that steered the Sun, along with the Moon and five planets, around the Earth. A fixed backdrop of stars enclosed space within a static Universe.
Copernicus ultimately demonstrated that the Earth revolves within an array of planets around their benevolent benefactor, the Sun. This seminal discovery exorcized Earth-oriented geocentrism and stretched our cosmic sensibility to the span of the solar system. Boosting the range of the naked eye, Galileo enlisted the telescope to pinpoint stars in the Milky Way, once again widening our spatial wherewithal.
Approaching the new millennium, as Albert Einstein envisioned a reality where gravity and time are enmeshed within the fabric of space, and matter and energy are interchangeable, Edwin Hubble unveiled the existence of galaxies beyond our own. Measuring “red shift” in the lightwaves of distant stars, Hubble ushered in a new era of space science with the revelation that the Universe is not only immense beyond our wildest imagination, but it is expanding.
“Calling infinity a number does not make it one.”
W.H. Auden, poet
The Biggest of Bangs
The implications of an expanding Universe oblige contemporary stargazers to recast our cosmic rendering and contemplate an Infinity with a past, present and future. As cosmologists fasten the stars to a temporal framework and trace light rays back in time, evidence of the inauguration of Everything accumulates. And as space science rallies around the moment of Genesis, when the fundamental elements that comprise matter coalesced, the Big Bang has exploded into our cosmic inquest.
In the beginning, an uber-dense inconceivably infinitesimal singularity erupted in a prodigious blast, initiating what we now consider the dawn of Creation. Until the Big Bang, there was void. No matter existed, no light shone. Bereft of space and time, idle nothingness simply was. So the story goes, but even as cosmologists strive to create working models of the birth of the Universe, we hesitate to hypothesize what may have been “before.”
It may be brazen folly to fathom the fugue of “pre” Big Bang oblivion, but humankind's most brilliant minds don't dawdle when it comes to predicting our cosmic destiny. Back in the day, clever constructs like Hoyle's "steady state" theory surmised that, as space continually grows, matter multiples to maintain a happy medium. Reminiscent of Aristotle's even-keeled cosmos, these sorts of antiquated premises aimed for eternal cosmic balance to assure us that, indeed, all is well in the Universe.
But even as the mantra of scientific methodology eschews cursory speculation, contemporary cosmologists rush to contrive a construct that embraces the reality of a much more unruly place. Recent conjecture portrays the Universe as attenuating space that stretches until its material substrate ultimately, and rather anticlimactically, dissipates into a diaphanous darkness that can no longer sustain thermodynamic energy. In a virtual “heat death” the temperature of space approaches absolute zero, and the Universe inexorably expires in the lethargy of a fatal Big Freeze.
Alternatively, in a grand finale coined the Big Crunch, expansion continues until space reaches the limits of its critical gravitational density and abruptly reverses course, shrinking until it collapses into the tiny singularity from whence it spawned. Instigating an endless cycle of explosion, inflation and collapse, the phases of an oscillating Universe play out in perpetuity like the progression of seasons on Planet Earth.
Entering a new millennium of cosmology, captivating contrivances continue to compete for a spotlight in space science. But as increasingly intriguing challenges arise, ancient questions remain unanswered, and our cosmic quest carries on.
“So here is us on the raggedy edge.”
Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity
Into the Modern Era
Today, we know that the Universe is dynamic, evolving and abounding with diverse stellar phenomena. Astronomers allude to countless galaxies and infinite dimensions of space. Carl Sagan’s “billions and billions” of stars are likened to all the grains of sand on all the beaches on Planet Earth.
As the ancient art of astral observation has matured into the sophisticated discipline of cosmology, the rate of technological advance has incited exciting times in space exploration. In 1990, an unwitting encounter with background radiation lingering from the blast of the Big Bang not only quashed the contention roiling around the birth of space-time, but also alluded to the age of the cosmos. At a breathtaking 13.7 billion years old, the Universe may smile upon the audacity of impetuous mortals daring to unravel its riddles. Nonetheless, cosmologists have calculated the span of space at a mind-boggling 92 billion light-years across. Stretching as far as modern-day mettle can manage, the scope of our cosmic consciousness extends to the edge of the “visible universe” – a cosmic light horizon dictated by the range of the most distant observable matter.
NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) captured remnants of background radiation lingering in the aftermath of the Big Bang. Considered the oldest light in the Universe - flashing into existence 380 thousand years into cosmic inflation - the nascent patterns burgeoning in the “baby universe” would shape star systems and galactic clusters into a Universe fit for human inhabitants.
Showcasing the magnitude of space and the multiplicity of galaxies as they appeared 800 million years after the Big Bang, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field scan displays the deepest image of space ever taken in visible light. Together with the Two-degree Field Galaxy Redshift and Sloan Digital Sky Surveys, cosmologists have mapped the positions and motions of millions of galaxies.
“Forget what you know…or what you think you know…”
The Twilight Zone
Cosmic Gravitas, or the Gravity of the Situation
Inspired by an apocryphal apple, Isaac Newton recognized that gravity binds celestial bodies in bands of spinning ensembles. In a tiny tick of the atomic time, Albert Einstein tilted the Earth on its axis with the revelation that the mass of objects bends the fabric of space, and what we consider the “force” of gravity is more appropriately represented as the curvature of four-dimensional space-time. The world's most famous equation, "E = mc^2," describes the elegant symmetry between matter and energy. Also referred to as "relativity theory," Einstein's genius depicts how the enigma of gravity shapes star systems and situates galaxies as they swirl and stretch.
Measuring Doppler shifts of rotating stars at various distances from the centers of galaxies, cosmologists enlist general relativity to calculate galactic mass. Curiously, their equations demonstrate that most of the matter meting out the galactic glue that prevents massive spinning stars from shooting off into space is missing in action. Indeed, as early as 1930, pioneering astronomers determined that our own Milky Way Galaxy must contain far more matter than they could chart with their telescopes. Impervious to conventional probes, so-called “dark matter” must be unmasked by other means.
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
The Dark Side
As cosmologists seek to shed light upon dark matter, an even more compelling cosmic quandary has emerged. In 1998, cosmologists enlisted outlying supernovae to measure the expansion of space. Type 1a supernovae radiate at a constant brightness and, as a precise standard candle, can be employed to compare distant light waves. Results were expected to demonstrate the steady decline of cosmic expansion since its initiation a la the Big Bang. Rather, the thermonuclear explosions of the dying white dwarfs disclosed that cosmic expansion is actually gaining speed.
While current constructs of the Big Bang and ensuing inflation lend credence to the prospect of an expanding Universe, the case for cosmic acceleration is counterintuitive. Newton’s Laws demonstrate that the same gravity that ensnares spinning planets should inevitably slow the velocity of the inflation triggered by the Big Bang so many millennia ago.
To accommodate the rising rate of cosmic acceleration, as well as the pull of dark matter, cosmologists have constructed the Lambda CDM “concordance model.” This depiction postulates that while a mere 4% of the cosmos is comprised of “ordinary” matter, twenty-one percent of space is made of dark matter, and as much as 75% of the Universe embodies an imperceptible “dark energy” that propels the pace of cosmic expansion.
Accordingly, as massive objects gravitate centripetally, the Universe offsets that traction, and then some. As a theoretical device, dark energy is a reverse tractor beam that radiates from an invisible anti-gravity engine secreted away deep within the stuff of space. Data from the Two-degree Field Galaxy Redshift and Sloan Digital Sky Surveys provide circumstantial evidence of gravitational repulsion, suggesting that dark energy has slowed down the collapse of overdense regions of matter in the Universe.
The discovery of cosmic acceleration has rocked the core of cosmic theory and sent many an inquisitive Earth-dweller reeling. Cast as cosmology’s “most pressing problem,” the symbolism surrounding dark energy smacks of Einstein’s “cosmological constant,” posited long ago to actualize relativity theory. While Einstein imported the numeric, “lambda,” into his equations to counterbalance gravitational drag and thereby generate a homeostatic (and eternal) Universe, the discovery of cosmic expansion compelled him to conclude that the fabricated force was his “biggest blunder.” But as an omnipresent cosmic impetus, the “constant” has made a comeback in the guise of dark energy.
Just as the search for the stuff of dark matter has so far come up shallow, the agent of dark energy remains elusive. From the get-go, cosmologists considered an unassuming culprit – the Zero-point Field. A lively repository of ground state energy existing at an order of magnitude 10^-39 below that of the electron, the ubiquitous caldron of Zero-point fluctuations has resonated on our quantum radar since Bohr’s Atomic Model and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. An indefatigable domain of energy exchange, the Zero-point Field continually interacts with all subatomic matter, and brims with energy. Renowned physicist Richard Feynman portrays the potential energy sequestered within Zero-point substrata such that “a single cubic metre of space is enough to boil all the oceans of the world.” As a contender for dark energy, however, the Zero-point Field doesn't quite make the cut, considering its density would have to be recalibrated to an untenable value 10^120 below current theoretical predictions.
“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is.”
The prospect of dark energy piles on another question that has yet to be answered – one that some cosmologists fancy may finally unify the “forces” of nature and fill in gaping holes in cosmology theory. On the short list, gravitons, inflatons, and the Higgs boson represent subatomic particles that proxy for natural processes we do not yet understand. We know that from the tiniest atomic scale to the great swaths of intergalactic space, matter and energy embody the fundamental forms of Everything.
As a “grand scheme”, the Lambda CDM concordance model represents what we’ve learned so far about the nature of the Universe. But as the model conspicuously conveys, only a minuscule fraction of the cosmos complies with our knowledge of matter and energy. With as much as 96% of the Universe patently beyond the pale of human perception, the concordance model acutely illustrates the scope of what we cannot see.
To fathom the vast distances separating the stuff of space, envision the following scenario: Setting off from Planet Earth at the speed of light – 186,282 miles per second – nearly five years would lapse before encountering Alpha Centauri, the closest star to our Sun, at 25 trillion miles away. The spiral of the Milky Way Galaxy – stretching 100,000 light years across – would appear after 100,000 years had long since expired. Launched in a light beam, just journeying far enough to glimpse our galaxy’s “local group” would expend five million Earth years.
According to Lambda CDM, a paltry four percent of the Universe is made up of “normal” baryonic matter – planets, stars, gases and dust – formed from protons, neutrons and other heavy particles. Despite the countless swarms of star systems breaching the black of space – up to 400 billion in our galaxy alone – the distance between patches of stellar activity is daunting. But even as they devise ever more ingenious ways to detect so-called "dark" forces, what cosmologists don’t like to divulge is that at least half of the ordinary stuff of space has long been unaccounted for in the vastness of the cosmos.
“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”
Through the Looking Glass
On the bright side, cosmologists have pronounced the discovery of as much as 40 percent of the Universe’s missing matter. Launched in late 1999, the European Space Agency's X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) satellite examined immense amounts of energy emitted from 28 distant quasars. Fueled by supermassive black holes, quasars pierce through dense cosmic gas like lighthouses flashing through fog. Illuminating a hive of activity hiding in open space, the quasi-stellar light sources enabled XMM-Newton to capture more than 650 filaments of superheated hydrogen and ionized oxygen.
XMM-Newton uncovered clumps of matter clustering around the gaseous filaments as they coalesce into colossal cosmic conduits. Forming an elaborate intergalactic network, wispy filaments ostensibly connect isles of dark matter, as bright baryonic matter cascades through cosmic corridors and clusters into galaxies. Fashioned in a complex frame, the furtive filaments appear to function as tethers, undergirding “empty” space between galaxies. The remaining mass of missing baryonic matter, cosmologists now suspect, may be found flowing between galaxies in the form of extremely hot gases that require x-ray telescopes of the future to detect.
Accumulating evidence from vast distances and veiled dimensions of the cosmos, cosmologists have begun to project the parameters of the large-scale structure of the Universe. Luminescing like invisible ink under ultraviolet rays, space shimmers with an intricate superstructure akin to a complex spider web or a cluster of brain cells. The computer simulated cube-Universe represents 1.5 billion light-years of space per side.
"Space – the final frontier…”
Where No One Has Gone Before
Since relavity theory featured time as the fourth dimension, humankind has worked hard to wrap our cleverly crafted craniums around the reality of temporal space. Trapped in a rigid time-bound framework, we rely upon the language of the Universe - mathematics - to explore the recondite implications of the space-time continuum. Representing a giant leap in human achievement, the advent of computer technology has catapulted our mathematic prowess toward unparalleled planes of magnitude and into unplumbed degrees of complexity. Churning through countless calculations in seconds of space-time, the computer extends human cognitive capacity and propels us to places no one has gone before.
French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot unleashed the power of computational capacity to model the behavior of complex systems. While Newton's Laws precisely predict the outcome of linear interactions, Mandelbrot's fractal geometry illustrates dynamic nonlinear relationships. Animating fractal equations, the "Mandelbrot set” reveals intricate patterns burgeoning from chaotic fluctuations. Arising from a recursive formula that accelerates random feedback processes, elegant patterns cluster in increasing hierarchies of magnitude, each a microcosm of the larger whole, displaying self-similarity at every level of scale. Infinitely complex, these fractal dimensions reveal an underlying order to what human cognizance perceives as utter randomness.
The magic of Mandelbrot relies upon a magnitude of degree that surpasses human sensibilities. As an iterative code generates billions of recursive calculations in split-seconds, computational proficiency shrinks spans of time. Exquisitely engineered to prosper at the pace of a particular spatio-temporal timeline, the human brain is not built to compute infinite iterations or project outcomes at this scale. But like a rocket blasted into the depths of undiscovered space, computer technology has launched humankind into far-reaching realms of unfathomable scope and unbounded scale. Endlessly advancing, the Mandelbrot set represents evolutionary processes set on super-charged fast-forward. From a millennial perspective, the emergent patterns of simulated fractal formations might represent the outcome of an unfolding epoch.
“The laws of Nature are written in the language of mathematics... without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word.”
In the natural world, fractal forms are all around us. Fractal patterns are found in the delicate fan of a fern leaf, the spiral gyrus of a seashell, and even within the synaptic pathways of brain cells. In fact, varieties of fractal properties are evinced in all natural processes, from the formation of a turbulent tornado storm cell to the path of a trickling river tributary. Like Mandelbrot’s formulas, natural fractals emerge from iterative feedback processes that generate order from chaos. The self-similarity demonstrated in chaotic dynamics also explains why familiar patterns are found throughout nature.
Fibonacci’s sequence demonstrates the mathematical order found in natural patterns. The series is derived by beginning with zero and adding the sum of two previous numbers into infinity: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, etc. As natural systems self-organize, similar encoded patterns emerge at hierarchical levels of order. The sunflower’s head exhibits Fibonacci numbers as florets unfold in spirals of 34 and 55.
Tracing a line through diagonals of squares with lengths equal to Fibonacci numbers produces a variation of the Golden Mean. Replicated in a range of natural forms, like Fibonacci’s nautilus, the ratio embedded in the Golden Mean represents the relationship of parts to the whole.
Self-organization is a fundamental property of fractals, and of nature. In the constant shuffle of energy exchange that enlivens natural processes, self-organizing patterns enable us to distinguish sets of information so that, in a cacophony of clamor, we may detect the signal from the noise. As a reprieve from unadulterated randomness, fractals are, perhaps, why there is something, rather than nothing.
"Order is the shape upon which beauty depends."
Pearl Buck, Nobel Laureate
Variations on a Theme
Fractal forms are turning up in space. Recent broad-scale analyses of the Universe have refuted the long-standing supposition that the vast expanse of the cosmos is essentially “empty.” Far from a vacuous void, the stuff of space is thriving with effervescent activity.
Like knots in threads of cosmic fabric, galaxy clusters permeate the Universe, containing clues to the expansion of space and even the beginning of space-time. Analyzing eleven galaxy clusters ranging from 6 to 8 billion light years away, cosmologists determined the clusters, amassing when the Universe was half its current age, are virtually identical to younger, closer galactic groupings. The results verify that, barring the effects of an expanding Universe, galaxy clusters are “self-similar.” Like other natural forms, patterns burgeoning within wide-ranging galaxy clusters exhibit variations on a theme.
While the discovery of baryonic matter coalescing in web-like patterns in the depths of the cosmos speaks to the scope of large-scale fractal forms unfolding in the stretching spans of space, the configuration of cosmic conduits attests to the ubiquity of self-similar patterns inherent in natural forms at drastically different scales. Compare the tendrils of human neurons (far left) with strands in the cosmic web (left). Evidence of dark matter clusters accruing around galaxies also attests to the fractal nature of the Universe. As the dark matter accumulates, coagulating clumps display the self-organizing processes of patterns proliferating throughout the cosmos.
With the goal of charting matter distribution throughout the cosmos, cosmologists have enlisted the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to construct a 3D map of the Universe that will encompass nearly a million galaxies and quasars. Data suggests that a “hierarchical structure” exhibited in nearby galaxy clusters extends deep into the Universe.
The standard model of cosmology - the Cosmological Principle - long accepted as credo in cosmic circles, insists that space is “smooth,” or that the distribution of matter in the Universe is largely homogenous. However, studies involving an expanse of space nearly 300 million light years across suggest that small-scale fractal forms may reach into the large-scale Universe.
Taken together, new evidence supporting the fractal nature of space may call into question the very foundation of modern space science, and even dampen the discharge of the Big Bang. General Relativity, the basis for current theories of the initiation of space-time, relies upon a constant density of matter in the Universe. In a fractal Universe, average density changes with scale, rendering models based on homogeneity meaningless, and taking us right back to the Beginning.
“You cannot conceive the many without the one.”
The Forest and the Trees
Like the Universe, our conception of the cosmos continues to expand. From Galileo’s telescope to Einstein’s cosmological constant, space has developed new dimensions. As an extension of human imagination, modern technology has hurled cosmology toward the edge of Infinity. And as the rate of technological advance chases the pace of cosmic acceleration, each discovery unveils increasing complexity - insinuating that remote realms of Creation may forever elude mortal means. But as human ingenuity intersects with space-time, our greatest impasse toward understanding the nature of the Universe may not involve physical boundaries or technological machinations. Following in the footsteps of our esteemed predecessors, our singular shortcoming may simply be one of scope. Perhaps - in the spirit of sanguine geocentrism - we miss the forest for the trees.
Lacking definitive evidence of what lies beyond the bounds of the “visible” Universe, we might direct our attention to the lessons of history. The chronicle of cosmic inquiry, as it underscores our ardent ingenuity, catalogs the tendency to shrink space around our human sensibilities and conjure exotic “unknowns” that proxy for natural processes. And even as Occam’s Razor urges us to seek unencumbered explanations for our enduring enigmas, we are only beginning to grasp the simple yet profound significance of scale. Collecting scattered pieces of the cosmic puzzle, we strive to summon the silhouette of the bigger picture. Ironically, our focus on parts undermines the edifying aspect of process, and draws our attention away from the whole.
In spite of our magnanimous myopia, each discovery enriches our collective cosmic acumen. And as we begin to replace reductionist mechanics with holistic synergy and embolden disparate parts with interactive processes, accumulating evidence attests to the essential nature of Everything: All things are derived from matter and energy, and all natural forms arise from dynamic processes that bring order to chaos.
Just as Aristotle conceived a geocentric Universe shrink-wrapped around the confines of the human condition, modern-day Earth denizens instinctively envisage the Universe - our Universe - as if Infinity were a human indulgence, and the size of space simply cannot exceed our ability to fathom it. But if we free ourselves from the shackles of Earthly ego and allow our cosmic eye to breach the barrier of mortal limitations we may embark upon a new understanding of space.
As we continue to oblige our cosmic curiosity, each chapter in the celestial chronicle of humankind unveils a broader expanse of space, and every discovery attests to the elegant symmetry and exquisite complexity of the cosmos. And as contemporary space sleuths grapple with the mysteries of the Big Bang and cosmic expansion, we begin to sense the specter of something even greater, something "beyond."
Zooming out to the edge of human endeavor, beyond the limits of the cosmic light horizon, we begin to see our Universe in a whole new light. As millions of stars beget billions of galaxies, and billions of galaxy groups yield to countless cosmic systems, our Universe shrivels to a spec on Heaven’s horizon. At this magnitude, it is but one of many universes, as an Omniverse shimmering with similar shapes materializes. Continuing outward to a distance beyond our wildest wonderings, intricate patterns and complex clusters appear as the processes of space emerge in an unfolding chaotic dynamic.
Much Ado About…Everything
Among the cosmological community, the prospect of multiple universes is nothing new. Ptolemy first envisioned the notion of “nested” universes in the 2nd century. More recently, the “Many-worlds Interpretation” posits infinite universes, each playing out unlimited events in a domain of countless quantum possibilities. “Bubble Theory” also depicts innumerable universes, each embodying a different physical constant, or state of being. In the Bubble Multiverse, universes arise amidst the quantum foam of a parent universe. Bubble Theory aligns neatly with evidence of cosmic inflation in the nascent Universe, as it describes fluctuations in the frothing foam forming universes that swell like an inflating balloon.
As a fundamental characteristic of fractal processes, self-organization is the modus operandi of the cosmos. Just as our solar system finds itself on the fringes of the Milky Way Galaxy, our Universe may form one facet of an intricate pattern emerging in the far reaches of the complex fractal formation that engenders the essence of Everything.
From this perspective, cosmology’s popular proposition for the beginning of the Universe in an explosive Big Bang and an ensuing period of inflation might be better represented as the burgeoning of a sprouting seed, perhaps not unlike the
The Fractal Field
As modern day inhabitants of the Universe, we are obliged to fathom a frontier of space where mass bends light rays and speed mangles the march of time. To navigate the next leap in our understanding of space, we must recognize the role of fractal dynamics in the continual articulation of the cosmos. We have seen the perennial patterns in natural forms and the eloquent ensembles of everyday shapes that arrange the world around us. Delving into nature’s contours, we discover the mathematics that specify their self-organization, and begin to appreciate the process that underlies their configuration. With the aid of time-truncating technology, we witness the spectacle of scale that reinterprets our ideal of the tall and the small and frames Infinity within an unfolding evolutionary process.
Just as we now know that matter and energy are interchangeable and that space and time are entangled, we must recognize that fractal dynamics are enfolded within the essence of the cosmos. Fractal dimensions demonstrated at micro and macro levels are not only exhibitions of the geometry of the Universe, but are also testament to the fundamental process that knits the fabric of the cosmos. As the scaffolding of the Universe, fractals shape the stuff of space; as the explicate effect of an underlying domain that informs the interactivities of matter and energy, fractals organize our reality. And as the implicate process that propels the progression of space-time, fractal dynamics have something to do with Everything.
Into the Light
In 1687, Isaac Newton, with an assist from Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, put forth a theory of gravity positing, in part, that the orbit of an object around a celestial body is elliptical. So acclaimed was his ovoid epiphany that when calculations of Mercury’s orbit around the Sun fell short of complying with his calculations, the imaginary planet Vulcan was invented to supply the missing effect of gravity that Newton’s laws required.
An era of space science elapsed before Albert Einstein, with his theory of General Relativity, corrected Newton’s nearsightedness. It seems, after all, that Newton’s laws, although entirely unimpeachable at one level of scale, completely collapse when confronted with the scope of strong gravitational fields. Accommodating this concession, General Relativity correctly depicts the quirky effects of gravity at the scale of massive entities like black holes and neutron stars.
While the planet Vulcan ascended into its righteous orbit on the set of Star Trek, cosmologists continue carrying on the practice of concocting mass to account for missing matter. Presumed to be associated with an as-yet-undetected particle, dark matter is no different. While the effects of such ostensibly invisible matter are patently demonstrable in the far reaches of the Universe, what remains entirely unknown is their cause. But until technological triumphs uncover evidence to justify the contemporary cosmological contrivance of mythical matter, the mystery of dark matter may more likely come to light in the domain of the Fractal Field.
Roxanne, cosmic neophyte.
Infinite feedback appreciated.