Friday, October 13, 2017

"Half the Universe's Missing Matter Has Just Been Finally Found"

“Half the universe’s
missing matter has just
been finally found”
I saw this headline
on The Huffingtonpost this week
heralding an astronomic discovery.
“’The missing baryon problem is solved,’
says Hideki Tanimura
at the Institute of Space Astrophysics
in Orsay, France,”
leader of one of the groups
involved in the research.
I didn’t know the baryons were missing.
Scientists used the
Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect
to detect baryon filament strands
between galaxies where nothing
was previously thought to exist.
The Sunyaev thing has to do
with background radiation
from the Big Bang exciting
those thinly spread baryon particles in the vast
distances between galaxies
so they are detectable.
And that’s pretty cool.
It’s something of a prodigal son moment
in which the lost has been found,
a Eureka moment like
Archimedes in his bathtub.
But the headline says “half the universe’s
missing matter” has been “finally found.”
I’d probably say “has finally been found.”
“Found finally” has the sense that
that’s it, it’s over, the mystery is solved.
“Finally found” is slightly less
terminal somehow,
a grammatic nuance,
perhaps as undetectable as
those baryons.
And I’m presuming the headline writer
meant that “all the missing matter”
has been found, not just half,
meaning there’s another half of
the missing matter still missing.
At any rate, all that empty space
is not so empty after all.
But why, I wonder, are those
missing baryons,
like favorite pair of cuff links,
or earrings,
always in the last place
you look?


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