Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dark Matter

I just wanted to start a discussion about the lecture on dark matter presented by Dr. Polhemus and see what others thought about it. I thought the presentation was phenomenal and was very impressed by the ideas and information, but afterwards I was troubled by some questions and doubts.

I guess my overall question revolves around when and how a concept like dark matter can become knowledge. Currently, we are not able to perceive dark matter with our senses. Some scientists have made theories about it because it seems to explain some occurrences in space, but do they know that dark matter exists? What do they need as evidence to claim that it does exist? Do they need more examples like the bullet cluster? If so, how many more? Also, when will the average person be able to claim it as knowledge? Most people can not understand these theories because they are so complex. Are the scientists a reliable authority for the general population?

Here's a link to an article on some of the general ideas and the bullet cluster if you missed the lecture or if you're just looking for an interesting read:
http://home.slac.stanford.edu/pressreleases/2006/20060821.htm

5 comments:

Deep Chandegara said...

For the general population, it can somewhat be considered as knowledge because they are just relying on science as an authority. They don't really know that dark matter exists; its just something that scientists thought of to explain the unexplained or strange phenomena. For me, saying that dark matter exists is like saying aliens exist because I'm just relying on belief for both of these knowledge claims. I'm sure scientists have a properly justified explanation for this knowledge claim and that's why they consider it knowledge, and since I don't have justification, I can't consider it knowledge.

Vvyynn said...

Can we ever claim that Dark Matter is knowledge? Yes. The ultimate way of proving something to be knowledge tot he general public is to show them a picture. Thus, all we need is a dark matter detector. I've been thinking about Dark Matter myself, and what if there are beings made out of Dark Matter, like we're made out of matter? What if they're as confused about "Light Matter" as we are "Dark Matter"? Anyhoo, there are probably all sorts of scientific things wrong with this, but I think it's pretty neat. But, Yes, We can have the general public believe that dark matter exists. This will be done mainly by authority, but also through perception of pictures. If you show a person a picture of dark matter and say "That there is dark matter" then the person, most likely eating a doughnut of some sort, will drool and say "Derrr, Okay". Slowly, dark matter will just become another thing, like atoms. Most believe it, some don't.

april said...

I also had an epiphany after the presentation and that was that the Dark Matter is just like Pure Math, it only exists because mankind has placed a label on something and applied its laws to call it true. In the case of Dark Matter, the scientists have said that it exists because the proof they believe to be true proves Dark Matters' existence. If the rules as to what Dark Matter is were changed or theorized in a different form, then what scientists have found to be "proof" would not actually prove anything. And, in order to say that Dark Matter does not truly exist, previous knowledge must be thrown out. Thus, Dark Matter can be said to be knowledge, if and only if previous knowledge is not forgotten. This will make proving Dark Matter's existence even more a desperate attempt because if this theory is proved wrong, in the sense that we know it, old knowledge, defined decades ago by Einstein would have to be reevaluated, and nobody would really like that, would they?

kelly said...

I do think that dark matter can be considered knowledge especially in the scientific sense. Mainly because like we have talked about if scientists find something that disproves their theory they are more than happy to change waht they have previously considered knowledge. But until this point there is no reason not to consider it knowledge.

Smaile said...

I agree with what everyone else has said, but i also just wanted to add that another WoK, logic, is very relevant in this situation. Scientists are unable to perceive dark matter through their senses, but through studies and calculations they know that something is there causing things to cluster. They just don't know exactly what it is.