Monday, October 30, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different..Does anyone know a good astrophysicist?

This is a serious idea, produced from my Science Geek side. Please treat it seriously. I came up with the core idea last week, and I've been bending it and testing it since. However, if it is true, the implications are genuinely enormous. If it is not, feel free to ignore it and mock me.

Spacetime and dark matter interaction hypothesis

I started this idea a very long time ago, as a child, ever wondering whether I’d ever be able to travel to other planets and times, a la Dr. Who. I entertained fantasies of exotic engines, warp speed and so forth, until I began to think that there might be a way of doing it without accelerating. About a week ago, an idea came to mind that I have been bending backwards and forwards every way I can, and I can’t find a problem at the moment, apart from the fact it uses a form of matter that is only just on the verge of being described. What is more, my idea seems to resolve a whole raft of complex issues regarding astrophysics and quantum physics, plus some other issues relating to religion and philosophy. It also implies a way to travel that could cover infinite distances and times, but without breaking any laws of physics. I know this is an outrageously enormous claim; This is why I must put this idea into the public domain, where it must be pulled every which way to see if it’s just crackpot or not. Let’s begin.
My current round of thinking about this concept began with the question ‘what would a universe look like if it did not have time?’, the answer, quite obviously, being absolute bloody chaos; everything would happen instantaneously. However, it also implies that a universe without time could not have a cogent space, as distance of any kind implies time between events. In other words, a timeless universe is an absurdity – it could not possibly have shape or substance. Rather like the singularity that led to the Big Bang. So far, so basic; I also started thinking along the lines of ‘what does time and distance look like in a universe devoid of sentience?’ – I wanted to understand what the absolute definition of time is, rather than the mathematical limits of seconds, hours, days, months etc that we place upon time. I also asked myself ‘what would the universe look like if it were smaller/bigger?’
It was this last question that set me following the white rabbit down the hole, or rather, an extremely large, at least light-year-wide, invisible bunny through spacetime.
Dark matter and dark energy have become increasingly accepted features of the universe over the past few years, even though we don’t know what they are, how big they are, or what they’re doing loitering around, being invisible. Dark matter does not seem to interact with the visible universe; we can’t see it, touch it, taste it, hear it or weigh it, which pretty much renders an impossible thing. Yet it must be there, because the universe and the structure within could not possibly exist without it. It is a thing that we simply do not have the capacity of perceiving, yet we can infer its existence.
And it does not interact with the visible universe.
However, what it does do is interact with spactime, simply because it is a fundamental part of the universe, just like gravity, mass, and electromagnetism.
Now here’s the idea:
The universe is far, far smaller than we actually consider it to be.
The reason it looks larger is very simple: dark matter dilates spacetime.
In other words, dark matter somehow acts as a kind of lens, distorting the actual fabric of the material, visible universe.
How on Earth is this provable?
Well, I’m still working on that one, but a couple of thoughts come to mind. Basically, dark matter may pervade the universe, but it should clump in gravitational centres, i.e. in galaxies and around black holes. The greater the amount of dark matter, the larger (and longer) spacetime appears to be. In other words, someone standing at the heart of the galaxy would see space, and the distance between stars, as being far more stretched out than someone standing at a point outside a galaxy. Not only that, it would also appear older than it is. So, you could send some people off on unimaginably long journeys to the centre of our galaxy and outside it, the compare their experiences, although might take a teensy-weensy bit too long – by several million years. Or you could try bouncing some kind of signal towards a system towards the centre of the galaxy, and another equidistant towards the outside, and measure the length of time it takes the signal to return. If my idea is true, it should take marginally longer for the signal aimed at the heart of the galaxy to return. Or you could try with the Pioneer probe, now hurtling away from the solar system and into deep space. If my supposition is correct, then our solar system should appear smaller than it does to us as a spacecraft enters deep space and less dark matter.
Now, dark matter appears to consist of enormous structures – current ideas suggest that a single particle may be more that a light year in dimension – but this helps the notion of the way it dilates spacetime. Although it affects the visible, material universe, what it does not do is affect matter at the subatomic, quantum level, simpy because of its sheer size. This could explain ‘spooky action at a distance’, or the way subatomic materials appear to have an effect on other subatomic particles regardless of distance and time. This is because the distance and time are the byproduct of spacetime dilation through dark matter. Dark matter behaving as I suggest would also explain why the Universal Constant appears to have changed, and why the speed of light possibly isn’t what it used to be. In fact, they have remained the same; what has occurred, from our perspective, is movement of dark matter, giving the illusion of change.
What are the implications of what I’m suggesting?
I’d argue that they are possibly enormous. Firstly, it suggests that we are capable of travelling vast distances without expending much in the way of energy. Quite simply, if you understand what dark matter (and dark energy, too) is, and how it behaves in relation to the visible universe – how it moves, how it clumps and so forth – then, in theory, and with an extremely fast computer and an extraordinarily accurate map, you should be able to avoid it – in other words, to warp through ‘real’ spacetime, rather than the dilated version. In terms of the kind of vehicle you’d need to do this, think more in terms of the Tardis than the USS Enterprise. This is because you would be able to move through time as well as space – hence the need for a really good map.
It also gives an insight into certain philosophical and religious ideas that the universe we live in is an illusion – that’s because it is: Our sense of space and time is a necessary illusion. I say necessary, because our senses have evolved to perceive spacetime as it appears to be, in its dilated state. This also implies that the rate of dilation would be relatively constant.
One thing I also suspect is that, not only does dark matter clump, the amount of it in the universe gradually increases as the universe ages. This would gradually increase the rate of spacetime dilation, leading to the visible universe appearing bigger and older.
Anyway, that’s the idea, in short – I have a few more suppositions that can be added to that, some of which relate to other spheres of science, but I want to work them through. This is a serious idea, and I’d like other serious minds to look at it. If it’s wrong, please tell me and explain why it’s wrong. If it looks right, please test it to destruction.

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