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The Big Answer


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Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe

a book by Lisa Randall

(our site's book review)

Dark Matter Spelled Dark Times Ahead for the Dinosaurs—or Did It?

The Amazon blurb says that In this brilliant exploration of our cosmic environment, the renowned particle physicist and New York Times bestselling author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven’s Door uses her research into dark matter to illuminate the startling connections between the furthest reaches of space and life here on Earth.

Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a devastating cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. What was its origin? In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, Lisa Randall proposes it was a comet that was dislodged from its orbit as the Solar System passed through a disk of dark matter embedded in the Milky Way. In a sense, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs.

Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a devastating cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet
Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a devastating cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet

Randall and Her Colleagues Cannot Find Dark Matter, but They Keep Pretending It's Been Discovered Anyway

Working through the background and consequences of this proposal, Randall shares with us the latest findings—established and speculative—regarding the nature and role of dark matter and the origin of the Universe, our galaxy, our Solar System, and life, along with the process by which scientists explore new concepts. In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, Randall tells a breathtaking story that weaves together the cosmos’ history and our own, illuminating the deep relationships that are critical to our world and the astonishing beauty inherent in the most familiar things.

Of course, not everyone buys the dark matter and dark energy theory, or even the big bang theory. And let's always remember, the big bang theory is just a theory, not a fact. It has problems and improbabilities (inflation). It may be truthiness more than truth—see Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security. When scientists seemed to discover an expanding universe, they pulled the dark matter and dark energy theory right out of their keisters to cover their embarrassment since this was the opposite of what their theories predicted. They've been red-faced for years as their search for dark matter and dark energy seemed to show there was no such thing. "But there must be, or lots of other theories would be shown to be wrong as well." (And we cannot have that!)

Scientists have been red-faced for years as their unsuccessful search for dark matter and dark energy seemed to show there was no such thing
Scientists have been red-faced for years as their unsuccessful search for dark matter and dark energy seemed to show there was no such thing

So dark matter and dark energy was the bandage for their wounded pride. So even though they kept failing to find or prove the existence of either dark matter or dark energy, they started looking at data, observations, and experiments with anomalies and/or inconsistencies in them and trotted out their dark matter and dark energy magic tricks and said, "see, these anomalies and/or inconsistencies must point to dark matter and dark energy, no doubt about it!" In essence, they were covering one bandage with another—or was it a smoke screen or a sleight-of-hand trick? See Wrinkles In Time.

Randall and Her Colleagues Cannot Find Dark Matter, So They Need to Let Go of Egos and Pursue Other Ideas (e.g., Modified Newtonian Dynamics)

Scientists are doing an admirable job of coming up with creative ideas and theories to fit our severely limited picture of our universe full of the unknown, the unproven, the unknowable, the apparantly silly, the vast, and the totally mysterious. They are to be commended. But these same people sometimes get too egotistical for their own good. People not buying the incredible-to-the-point-of-ludicrous big bang theory tried to acquire funding for alternative research, but the big bang crowd cried and sulked and prevented any research funding from reaching any alternative projects.

So looking at various other possibilities for the way the universe works was enough to get one fired—that's how strong the egotistical pride was in the big bang crowd. The essense of a good scientist is openmindedness, willingness to respectfully look at alternative viewpoints, and avoidance of backstabbing. The big bang crowd, by this yardstick, were flops. So when scientists do manage to avoid the gravitational pull of conformity and pursue other ideas, at very least they will learn things and perhaps discover great things—including a better idea than the big bang crowd's incredible-to-the-point-of-ludicrous ideas.

Not to undermine the big bang crowd, but it turns out that the big bang never happened—instead, it was the Big Boom. Film at 11:00
Not to undermine the big bang crowd, but it turns out that the big bang never happened—instead, it was the Big Boom. Film at 11:00

The Guardian reports that "Of all the scientific advances of the last century, few are more impressive than the discovery that the matter familiar to us on Earth is quite different from the stuff that makes up most of the universe. A whacking 85% of the universe is made of something astronomers called 'dark matter.'" (Source: Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall review – when will another asteroid wreak havoc on Earth?, Graham Farmelo, The Guardian)

The problem here is Farmelo calls this a "discovery." Not one single gram of the stuff has been "discovered"—ever. It is an unproven theoretical substance whose biggest claim to fame so far is the utter failure of the search for the stuff. It is time to rethink various basic physics principles—maybe gravity's laws need tweaking just like Newton's laws did once Einstein's Relativity came along.

"[Randall] is a progressive thinker, a visionary capable of bridging the vast gulf between speculation and reality science"—Tulsa Book Review

Randall is a progressive thinker, a visionary capable of bridging the vast gulf between speculation and reality science, yet some find that bridge to be insubstantial indeed!
Randall is a progressive thinker, a visionary capable of bridging the vast gulf between speculation and reality science, yet some find that bridge to be insubstantial indeed!


Having created such pretty castles in the air, we find that Randall's castles are sorely lacking one thing: a good foundation (such as actually FINDING dark matter, rather than considering fancy theories proof of anything beyond good imaginations)
Having created such pretty castles in the air, we find that Randall's castles are sorely lacking one thing: a good foundation (such as actually FINDING dark matter, rather than considering fancy theories proof of anything beyond good imaginations)

"Randall: 'Meteoroid hits are challenging enough to investigate. Coupling them with uncertainties about extinction events is bound to go down a convoluted rabbit hole of trouble.' But she went down the rabbit hole anyway." (Source: Dark Matter and the dinosaurs: A quest for grown-ups, Michael Brooks, New Scientist)

'Meteoroid hits are challenging enough to investigate. Coupling them with uncertainties about extinction events is bound to go down a convoluted rabbit hole of trouble.' But she went down the rabbit hole anyway
'Meteoroid hits are challenging enough to investigate. Coupling them with uncertainties about extinction events is bound to go down a convoluted rabbit hole of trouble.' But she went down the rabbit hole anyway

“Successful science writing tells a complete story of the ‘how’-the methodical marvel building up to the ‘why’-and Randall does just that.” (New York Times Book Review)

“A cracking read, combining storytelling of the highest order with a trove of information on subjects as diverse as astrophysics, evolutionary biology, geology and particle physics. What’s remarkable is that it all fits together.” (Wall Street Journal)

Randall Waxes Poetic about the Universe's Interconnectedness

“The universe, Randall eloquently argues, is an organic thing, a symphonic thing, with all its myriad parts contributing their own notes.” (Time Magazine)

The universe, Randall eloquently argues, is an organic thing, a symphonic thing, with all its myriad parts contributing their own notes
The universe, Randall eloquently argues, is an organic thing, a symphonic thing, with all its myriad parts contributing their own notes

“Randall succeeds in guiding the reader through the history of the cosmos and the Earth from the Big Bang to the emergence of life as we know it in a fun and captivating way. . . . [This is] a very enjoyable read for both lay readers and scientists.” (Science Magazine)

“The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction
The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction

“Through Randall’s brilliant research we see a universe unfold that is far grander than anyone at any time could have imagined… She is a progressive thinker, a visionary capable of bridging the vast gulf between speculation and reality science.” (San Francisco Book Review)

“Randall, a Harvard professor, is one of the world’s leading experts on particle physics and cosmology. In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, she takes readers on an illuminating scientific adventure, beginning 66 million years ago, that connects dinosaurs, comets, DNA, and the future of the planet.” (Huffington Post)

“Brilliant and thought provoking…The greatest strength of Randall’s book is that it lacks any overly academic jargon and is reasonably easy to understand. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe illustrates beautifully that there is so much left to be discovered about ourselves and the universe that we call home.” (BUST)

Randall takes readers on an illuminating scientific adventure, beginning 66 million years ago, that connects dinosaurs, comets, DNA, and the future of the planet
Randall takes readers on an illuminating scientific adventure, beginning 66 million years ago, that connects dinosaurs, comets, DNA, and the future of the planet

Randall's Story of Dark Matter Taking Out the Dinosaurs is Imaginative Fiction and No More

“The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction.” (Physics World)

“The nature of the impactor remains unknown, but if it was indeed a comet dislodged from the Oort Cloud, then Randall’s book provides an entertaining and radical explanation of the events leading up to their ultimate extinction.” (WHYY Radio Times)

Objects near the earth are called meteoroids. Once they enter the earth’s atmosphere (they glow brightly if they are big enough) they are called meteors, the parts that land are meteorites. Often comets break up into an array of small objects and when the earth passes through them we see a meteor shower, as many as one meteor a minute
Objects near the earth are called meteoroids. Once they enter the earth’s atmosphere (they glow brightly if they are big enough) they are called meteors, the parts that land are meteorites. Often comets break up into an array of small objects and when the earth passes through them we see a meteor shower, as many as one meteor a minute

The Search for Dark Matter Failed—Many Scientists Are Asking: Now What?

"Suppose for a moment that both dark energy and dark matter are too strange a pill to swallow. What would the alternatives be? One way out would be to suppose that our understanding of the universe is at fault. Perhaps gravity and general relativity do not work in quite the way that we think they do. In the same way that Newton’s laws – which we long thought told the whole story about movement – are a simplification of the more complicated theory of relativity, perhaps our understanding of relativity is a simplification of something else? More fundamentally, perhaps we have made some error of judgement about the assumptions that underpin the equations we deal with? Maybe we need to modify the equations of gravitation?" (Source: Study finds ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ may not exist – here’s what to make of it, The Conversation)

The long-predicted particles associated with our favorite and most well-motivated theories have stubbornly refused to appear—in response, droves of physicists are going back to their chalkboards, revisiting and revising their assumptions
The long-predicted particles associated with our favorite and most well-motivated theories have stubbornly refused to appear—in response, droves of physicists are going back to their chalkboards, revisiting and revising their assumptions

"As recently as a decade ago, most cosmologists – including myself – were reasonably confident that we would soon begin to solve the puzzle of dark matter. . . . But things did not play out the way that we expected them to. Although these experiments and observations have been carried out as well as or better than we could have hoped, the discoveries did not come. Over the past 15 years, for example, experiments designed to detect individual particles of dark matter have become a million times more sensitive, and yet no signs of these elusive particles have appeared. . . . In many ways, we have only more open questions now than we did a decade or two ago. And at times, it can seem that the more precisely we measure our universe, the less we understand it. . . . our prescience seems to have come to an end – the long-predicted particles associated with our favorite and most well-motivated theories have stubbornly refused to appear. In response, droves of physicists are going back to their chalkboards, revisiting and revising their assumptions. With bruised egos and a bit more humility, we are desperately attempting to find a new way to make sense of our world." (Source: Dark matter: The mystery substance physics still can’t identify that makes up the majority of our universe, The Conversation)

'I just discovered dark matter!'
'I just discovered dark matter!'

"For decades, a few rogue scientists have stood hopefully at the edge of respectability, offering their theory called Modified Newtonian Dynamics, or MOND. Essentially, it says that physics doesn’t work as we know it at the largest scales. It says we’ve been drawing the wrong conclusions, and dark matter isn’t required to explain the universe. No one has managed to develop a theory of MOND that adequately explains the universe around us, but it occasionally gains converts simply because the competing theory of dark matter has a glaring flaw: we can’t find it. Perhaps we’re wrong about something in the standard model that defines how the tiniest particles in the universe behave and interact, and dark matter exists, but in a very different form than we’re expecting. Or perhaps we are wrong about the laws of gravity. . . . Until something changes, we’ll have to rest uneasy with the unsettling possibility that physics as we know it might be very wrong." (Source: What is Dark Matter? Even the Best Theories Are Crumbling, Korey Haynes, Discover Magazine)

"The motivation for considering alternatives to standard dynamics plus dark entities is severalfold. Foremost is the fact that there is an alternative, such as MOND, that works well and is much more predictive in the realm of the galaxies. Second, it is known that the [dark matter] paradigm is beset by many problems when confronted with the data on galaxies (e.g., Famaey & McGaugh, 2012; Kroupa, 2012; Boylan-Kolchin, et al. 2012; Weinberg, et al., 2013). Also, the major potential obviator of alternatives: the direct detection of [dark matter], has not materialized, despite many searches over many years." (Source: The MOND paradigm of modified dynamics, Mordehai Milgrom, Scholarpedia)

Alert the media! This fellow just discovered some dark matter! After looking for decades, he finally found it with his eyes as well as his nose. Film at 11:00!
Alert the media! This fellow just discovered some dark matter! After looking for decades, he finally found it with his eyes as well as his nose. Film at 11:00!


Even religious anti-Darwinist David F. Coppedge gets it that trusting in phantoms is fake science until they are proven true—which they've utterly failed to do
Even religious anti-Darwinist David F. Coppedge gets it that trusting in phantoms is fake science until they are proven true—which they've utterly failed to do

Here's a religious take on secular cosmology which bemoans the "unproven phantoms—dark, occult things that are declared real only because their favored theories require them": ". . . cosmologists are now scrambling to understand something they were claiming they understood. They even called their models 'precision cosmology.' How can a model be precise when at least 68% of it, maybe even 96% of it, is fake science relying on inexplicable unrealities? . . . While we respect observational astronomy and empirical evidence, most of secular cosmology has trusted in phantoms—dark, occult things that are declared real only because their favored theories require them. If they finally give up on these phantoms, astronomy will be better off." (Source: It’s Over: Dark Energy Was Fake Science , David F. Coppedge, CREV) [Coppedge's career was cut short by his advocacy of intelligent design. He is anti-Darwinism and his anti-science preaching got him fired by NASA.]

While we all respect observational astronomy and empirical evidence, most cosmology has trusted in phantoms—dark, ghost-like things that are declared real only because their favored theories require them
While we all respect observational astronomy and empirical evidence, most cosmology has trusted in phantoms—dark, ghost-like things that are declared real only because their favored theories require them

The Failure to Find Dark Matter/Energy Has Been Swept Under the Rug—Now They Work As If Dark Matter/Energy Is Fact

We are currently stuck, for lack of a better term, in explaining dark energy/matter, and we need a breakthrough sooner that later, and Randall is a critical part of that scientific attempt/effort. On the other hand, showing that dark matter/energy "ought" to be everywhere and actually discovering it and proving it are two different things. Scientists seem willing to respond to their frustrations about the utter failure to find dark matter/energy by simply sweeping this failure under the rug—out of sight, out of mind—and continuing their work as if the dark matter/energy theory was fact, which is a far cry from the truth.

So far the dark matter/energy theory is little more than a lot of gum-flapping about phantoms—dark, occult things that are declared real only because their favored theories require them. It is disingenuous to declare these ghosts real when no one has established anything of a kind. We agree with Coppedge, above, not for his intelligent design, anti-Darwinism and anti-science preaching, but for his frustration with the way frustrated scientists are mixing wild speculations with proven facts as if the actual nature of the proven facts will rub off on the speculative nature of their wild-ass theorizing. Randall's book is mostly good but her wild-ass theorizing got way ahead of her facts.

Scientists seem willing to respond to their frustrations about the utter failure to find dark matter/energy by simply sweeping this failure under the rug—out of sight, out of mind—and continuing their work as if the dark matter/energy theory was fact
Scientists seem willing to respond to their frustrations about the utter failure to find dark matter/energy by simply sweeping this failure under the rug—out of sight, out of mind—and continuing their work as if the dark matter/energy theory was fact

Randall Pulled Every One of Her Punches So as Not to Annoy the High Priests of Particle Physics, Her Field of Study

As one Amazon reviewer wrote, "Dr. Randall exhausts half of her 400 page book demonstrating that she has swallowed her Kool-Aid . . . Randall pulled every one of her bravely conceived punches so as not to annoy the high priests of particle physics, her field of study. Stuff that may or may not even exist . . . a matrix of cosmic ideology passing for hard science. Dr. Randall is among the most prominent spokespersons for this mythical stuff. . . . Part of me is sad that brilliant minds and big hearts like Dr. Randall and so many of her colleagues are required to swallow all of the wacky theory AND they are obliged to spread the gospel in their books and lectures like 19th century colonizing Christian missionaries . . . The discipline needs to be totally reamed, house-cleaned, soil turned, toss out the lukewarm bathwater — begin fresh with scintillating new ideas, i.e. make a science of this wonderful endeavor not an expensive religion."

The current state of science is that because of going down the dead end of big bang theory—which was a much better TV show than science theory—they are no longer sure of much of anything. Gravity theory turned out to be either wrong or in need of a dark matter fix to cure its ills. Science and physics said the universe was going to contract and do another big bang, but then they found out—they think—that the universe is expanding, which either means Gravity theory is defective or we need to stick dark matter everywhere as a quick fix for their embarrassment. They were sure that dark matter/energy "ought" to be everywhere except years of desperate searching has shown it to be nowhere, nonexistent.

The fact the search was a huge failure should tell them to erase the blackboard and start fresh, like many have thought (and the above reviewer has written) but the swallowing of the Kool-Aid is essential for a career in physics
The fact the search was a huge failure should tell them to erase the blackboard and start fresh, like many have thought (and the above reviewer has written) but the swallowing of the Kool-Aid is essential for a career in physics


New physics aspirants start with the obligatory swallowing of the wacky big bang and dark matter/energy theories and trying to build from there, not realizing they're building at the top of a shaky house of cards
New physics aspirants start with the obligatory swallowing of the wacky big bang and dark matter/energy theories and trying to build from there, not realizing they're building at the top of a shaky house of cards

Swallowing of the Kool-Aid Is Essential for a Career in Physics, So Swallow She Did

The fact the search was a huge failure should tell them to erase the blackboard and start fresh, like many have thought (and the above reviewer has written) but the swallowing of the Kool-Aid is essential for a career in physics, so new physics aspirants start with the obligatory swallowing of the wacky big bang and dark matter/energy theories and trying to build from there, not realizing they're building at the top of a shaky house of cards. So fortunes are spent searching for what never has or ever will exist. Many have offered to back out of the big bang dead end and try a different route, but too many fragile egos were at stake, and the big bang high priests prevented any research funding from getting within a light year of these rebellious upstarts. With so many things fallng apart about the Kool-Aid conventional wisdom, it is logically time to follow a new path, but the gospel shall not be questioned, the big bang high priests shall not be contradicted, and the status quo shall not be abandoned.

Saying that dark matter/energy 'ought' to be everywhere when it obviously isn't is simply a symptom of following the big bang high priests down a dead end street and being too pigheaded to back out and try a different path when things go awry
Saying that dark matter/energy 'ought' to be everywhere when it obviously isn't is simply a symptom of following the big bang high priests down a dead end street and being too pigheaded to back out and try a different path when things go awry

Why Does Randall Even Mention "Nemesis" Again, 30 Years After It Was Debunked and Vanished from the Scientific Literature?

The periodicity idea of mass extinctions has been debunked for decades, as have future destruction by Nemesis, Nibiru or Planet X. Why does Randall even mention "Nemesis" again, 30 years after it was debunked and vanished from the scientific literature? For decades, conspiracy theorists have predicted that an unseen planet beyond Neptune – called Nibiru or Planet X – is going to destroy Earth. NASA has thoroughly debunked the Nibiru myth via its Beyond 2012 page, saying, "Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye." See Beyond 2012: Why the World Didn't End.

Meade says Planet X will crash into the earth in October 2017, destroying us all
Meade says Planet X will crash into the earth in October 2017, destroying us all

Hard to believe, but the Planet-Xers are still out there making more bogus predictions. David Meade says Planet X will crash into the earth in October, destroying us all. It has always been important for average citizens to learn about science, but in this time when climate deniers and creationists grab the headlines and hijack the political process, it is especially important. But then, Meade is a rightwing religious fanatic doomsday and conspiracy theorist subscriber predicting the end of the world in October of 2017—yup, here comes the Rapture! Wait a second: October of 2017 was a long time ago. We don't recall the world ending in 2017—you'd think that we would have noticed a thing like that! Oh well, a person would have to be a moron to believe anything from a rightwing religious fanatic doomsday and conspiracy theorist subscriber!


Randall Should Apply Her Brilliant Mind to Backtracking and Joining with the Other Rebels Sick of the Stale Taste of Kool-Aid

Our opinion is that Randall should apply her brilliant mind to backtracking and joining with the other rebels sick of the stale taste of the Kool-Aid who are trying to find a way to solve all the unknowns that have proven to be unknowable following the gospel of the high priests who have pretended that the big bang is a fact, when it is a theory, and who have pretended that dark matter/energy has been established, discovered, and proven when in fact none of these are true. Saying that dark matter/energy "ought" to be everywhere when it obviously isn't is simply a symptom of following the big bang high priests down a dead end street and being too pigheaded to back out and try a different path when things go awry.

Saying that dark matter/energy 'ought' to be everywhere when it obviously isn't is simply a symptom of following the big bang high priests down a dead end street and being too pigheaded to back out and try a different path when things go awry
Saying that dark matter/energy 'ought' to be everywhere when it obviously isn't is simply a symptom of following the big bang high priests down a dead end street and being too pigheaded to back out and try a different path when things go awry