The Morning Text 11/03: Unknown Space

An Educational Newsletter
GOOD MORNING!

Welcome to The Morning Text!

Fun Fact courtesy of Mallory Nuzman! A new species of millipede was just discovered! This new species has 414 legs and 4 penises. There are many animals/insects that have multiple genitalia. This is evolutionarily advantageous because it gives them the ability to have sex with multiple partners one after the other without taking a break between them. They simply switch out the penis for another. Kangaroos are also amongst those blessed animals with their three vaginas!

Today’s morning text is the second part of the previous morning text on gravity. To read that newsletter, please follow this link: http://themorningtext.com/index.php/2016/11/02/the-morning-text-1102/

Also, if you didn’t see it, go read the comment posted on yesterday’s morning text by Aaron! He had a very interesting take on my example with the trampoline.

So yesterday, we talked about gravity. We learned that gravity is caused by the unequal distribution of matter in the spacetime continuum. We need to understand how gravity works to understand today’s concept.

In order for this concept to make sense, we need to come to terms with two things. One, we need to forget the notion that all of the space between physical matter (planets, stars, clouds, black holes, etc) is some empty space, void of all substance. Instead, imagine it as a vast field with certain properties and laws. Two, we need to understand that we just don’t understand it (if that makes sense). 

Of everything that we know exists in space, and that includes everything we can’t directly detect, the physical matter that we can see, taste or touch accounts for less than 5% of everything in the known universe. Another 27% is dark matter, and 68% is dark energy. 

It was during the observation of gravity that astronomers ran into dark matter. In 1933, a Swiss American astronomer by the name of Fritz Zwicky theorized the existence of dark matter, not to be confused with black holes or antimatter. 

So what is dark matter? First of all, I think the term “dark matter” is misleading. We really don’t know what it is. We’re not even sure it’s matter. Of all the gravity we have ever measured in our universe, only 15% of it is accounted for with physical matter we can detect. Meaning that 85% of all the gravity we’ve seen is coming from something we can’t detect. Dark matter is that missing variable that creates all that gravity. Personally, I prefer the original term used in the 1930’s, “missing mass.”

Dark matter may or may not be a substance. But what we do know is that it does not emit light, and we know that it interacts with gravity. We can see that as it passes through space it bends light (a property of gravity). We know that its not a black hole because black holes are immensely dense masses of physical matter that create tons of gravity located in specific areas where as dark matter is not detectable and is scattered all over the place. We also know that it’s not antimatter because when antimatter reacts with normal matter it gives off unique gamma rays. Dark matter is greatly responsible for the structure of our universe. If it wasn’t for the gravity of dark matter, galaxies would not form and instead the many stars that exist would disperse into space.

The confusion gets worse with dark energy. Just like dark matter, we don’t know what dark energy is. In 1927, Hubble witnessed that the Doplar effect was more consistent in more distant galaxies and that as time went on the Doplar shift was even more drastic. It occurred to him that this was because space was expanding (up until then people thought that matter was coming together because of gravity). We have also realized that the rate at which space is expanding is increasing. It is believed that the increase in rate is due to dark energy. Again, we don’t exactly know what it is, but we have a few ideas:

 1. Remember when I said “imagine it [space] as a vast field with certain properties and laws?” This first theory is exactly that. This theory suggests that dark energy isn’t even energy. Instead it’s a constant property of space that is seen more as space expands. The more space stretches at the edges, the more space fills the gaps in the middle (that makes sense! As space gets more spacious, space has empty spaces that need to be filled in with more space).

 2. Another theory is similar to a theory that Einstein created called a cosmological constant. Much like a cosmological constant, dark energy could be a force that counteracts gravity. So instead of pulling things together, it forces things away. I should mention that when we tried to calculate the existence and strength, the results were so all over the place that this theory is basically dismissible as a viable possibility.

 3. There is also a theory that space is just a spontaneous eruption of virtual particles that appear from nothing and then disappear again. The energy released from those particles when they disappear could be dark energy.

 4. The final theory suggests that dark energy is an energy charged field that stretches every. 

Even if any of these theories are true, we have absolutely no way to detect dark energy to prove them.

So there you have it! The general makeup of our universe. Less than 5% known matter, and the rest of it dark matter and dark energy. I know today’s morning text was super dense and sciency, thanks for bearing with me. Tomorrow’s will be more fun I promise, I just love astrophysics. 

Challenge of the Day: after living through all of that deep material, you deserve an easy challenge. Take some time tonight to find the Big Dipper.

That’s it for today! Please don’t hesitate to provide feedback so that I can better cater to your interests. If you believe you have received this message in error and no longer wish to receive them, please notify me. If you would like to view previous Morning Texts please visit themorningtext.com 

Have a wonderful day.

Written by Caleb Gibbons


Sources:
https://www.britannica.com/science/dark-matter

https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy

The Morning Text 11/02

An Educational Newsletter

GOOD MORNING!
Welcome to The Morning Text!

Someone asked me what makes me qualified to write a newsletter and talk about things in which I have no degrees. My answer is: I don’t need qualifications to write about things I think are fascinating. And I definitely don’t need to be “qualified” to share my opinion on those subjects. All I need is the desire. So if anyone wants to write and share what they have written but is too worried about not having the “qualifications,” do it anyway. You don’t need qualifications.

Good, now that that’s done. This morning text will come in two parts, part one today and part two tomorrow. 

Anyway, Lets talk about astrophysics. Specifically, gravity. Gravity is a force that is caused by the unequal distribution of matter and energy in the universe. These unequal distributions bend the spacetime continuum. In short, gravity is caused by matter and mass. Matter is something with substance, everything we can think of is made up of matter except space which is in fact void of matter. Even light, in theory, is made up of matter. Mass is the existing body of matter. All matter creates some bit of gravity. Although it may not be enough to bend the spacetime continuum like a star does, even you create gravity. 

If you don’t understand “bend spacetime continuum” don’t fret. It may be an intimidating phrase but it can be explained. Imagine a flat, undisturbed trampoline. That trampoline is space. Now let’s take a bowling ball and place it on the trampoline. Notice that this heavy object is bending the trampoline downwards. Assuming this trampoline is space, that bowling ball is bending the space time continuum. Now let’s take a baseball and place it on the same trampoline, it would immediately roll toward the bowling ball, right? That’s what gravity is like. If you imagine the bowling ball as the sun and the baseball as earth, then it all makes sense. 

But wait, why doesn’t the earth fly into the sun like the baseball does to the bowling ball. Well imagine taking that baseball and rolling it sideways across the edge of the trampoline. Notice that the baseball will roll around the bowling ball over and over again. That baseball is now orbiting the bowling ball. And the baseball would go on forever if it wasn’t for the fact that the friction between the baseball and the trampoline tarp caused the baseball to slow down. Space of course is void of matter, so there is no friction to slow the earth down. So the earth will continue orbiting the sun forever (in theory). 

Now add something to the trampoline. Take the baseball off of the trampoline, leaving only the bowling ball. Now add a marble to the story. Take the baseball and the marble and roll them onto the trampoline side by side at the same time. That marble will now orbit the baseball which is of course orbiting the bowling ball. That is like our moon orbiting the earth as the earth orbits the sun. And then the sun is orbiting our galaxy.

So now we know how gravity affects the three spacial dimensions. To complicate things further, we know of four dimensions. Unlike the first three, the fourth is not spacial. In fact, the fourth is more closely related to time (but is not technically time). So I’ll explain it with another analogy. Imagine a large white bed sheet spread over an empty area (a few feet of air below it). Now imagine a ladybug is trying to crawl from one side to the other. The side from which the insect is crawling we are calling point A, and the other side is point B. It may take the ladybug 20 minutes to cross the sheet. So let’s go grab our bowling ball and place is in the middle of this big sheet. Now instead of holding the sheet tightly by the corners, let it bend. With the bowling ball in the middle of the sheet, the two ends of the sheet will come together and touch. This would enable the ladybug to crawl from one end of the sheet to the other end in just a few steps. That is how gravity affects time. It been the space time continuum shortening the distance between point A and point B. Also, a lighter ball (lighter source of gravity) would cause less of a bend in the sheet (spacetime continuum). This of course is a two dimensional analogy of a fourth dimension. In reality, gravity having effect in all four dimensions of space, we would see that the closer you are to gravity, the slower time moves. Our watches will even tick just a little slower when we go up in the elevator!

Tomorrow’s will be about a concept that has boggled the minds of astrophysicists since the 1930’s.

Challenge of the Day: Choose a planet in the solar system and look up how heavy you would be on that planet. For instance, my favorite planet is Mars and I would weigh 52.7 lbs on the surface. I’ll provide a link to a calculator for the challenge below

That’s it for today! Please don’t hesitate to provide feedback so that I can better cater to your interests. If you believe you have received this message in error and no longer wish to receive them, please notify me. If you would like to view previous Morning Texts please visit themorningtext.com 

Have a wonderful day.

Written by Caleb Gibbons

Sources:

https://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/weight/

http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2010/09/time-moves-faster-upstairs.html?m=1

Where Does Gravity Come From?