Friday, January 16, 2009

dark matter close to home?

From Scientific American: Does Dark Matter Encircle Earth?

Just like scientists, I think dark matter is awesome, both because it is incredibly mysterious and because it apparently goes through normal matter. And its mysteriousness is apparently only equal to our inability to find any of it.

However, Stephen Adler, a theoretical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Studies, has said there should be study of the Earth and Moon to see if any dark matter is present close by. "If the mass of Earth and the moon when measured together seems greater than their masses separately, the difference could be attributed to a halo of dark matter in between." He says that the presence of dark matter in the solar system could also solve the unexplained on other planets, like how the interiors of the outer gas giants are hotter than we think they should be.

Annika Peter, an astrophysicist at CIT, counters, saying that the latter idea would require "a seriously unrealistic amount of dark matter," and that there probably isn't any dark matter in the solar system itself. But perhaps a little outside it?

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