Astrophysicists tell us that there is a dark matter in space which cannot be seen directly with telescopes because it neither emits nor absorbs light or electromagnetic radiation at any significant level. It’s simply matter that isn’t reactant to light. Its presence is inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, discrepancies between the mass of large astronomical objects and the luminous matter they contain in the form of stars, gas, and dust.
This astrophysical revelation has created a paradigm shift à la Nicolaus Copernicus. His De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), published in 1543, presented an alternative model of the universe to Ptolemy’s geocentric system. Suddenly, human beings were no longer at the center stage of a universe created for our benefit. We were floating around a sun, just one of a million other suns, on a large ball of rock and gas.
Our comprehension of the universe was rocked again in 1932, the same year that Mickey Mouse was first syndicated, George Burns and Gracie Allen debuted as regulars on the Guy Lombardo Show, and Adolf Hitler got his German citizenship.
1932 was the year that Dutch astronomer Jan Oort shook the scientific world by demonstrating that the Milky Way rotates like a giant Catherine Wheel and that all the stars in the galaxy were “travelling independently through space, with those nearer the center rotating much faster than those further away.” This indicated that some immense gravitational pull exerted by an invisible matter must be the cause. Oort developed parameters that show the differential rotation of the galaxy called Oort Constants. From these it’s possible to infer the mass density of the Galactic Disk, much of which appears to be invisible. There, but not there. What may be holding it together is something called WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles) that interact through gravity and the weak force, which is responsible for the radioactive decay and nuclear fusion of subatomic particles, and is sometimes called quantum flavordynamics.
This means that roughly 96% of the universe is missing. It’s made of stuff astronomers can’t see, detect, or even comprehend.
I find the implications of this quite enchanting. That is to say, the knowledge that there are phenomena not available to my senses nor for that matter highly sophisticated scientific apparatus offers quite a promising path for speculation. If there are phenomena not perceivable by way of our senses, how much that is “out there” eludes our sight and hearing and taste and touch and smell?
Dark matter appears to be composed of a type of subatomic particle not yet defined, quantum flavordynamics aside. I love these anomalies. The insinuation of snow where there can be no possibility of snow. Where snow is an idea, a potential, a matter in consciousness wrestling our perceptions into some mode of apprehension, despite their worldly configuration. Snow isn’t dark matter, but as matter goes, it’s pretty weird stuff.
So are lobsters. And rattlesnakes and waterfalls. But this is a weakness. I am encroaching too much on the perceptible world to suggest the imperceptible. Ghosts, for instance. The whole timid map of Hamlet’s hesitations and all those flowers Ophelia mentioned before she drowned like a water lily overcome by the imagery of romance. We all know there is something else, some other thing or things in existence that we can almost apprehend but that elude language, the efforts we make with words to paint phenomena into existence, into palpability. Into flame, sod, and linear momentum. Mohair, wisdom, a pudding of sound produced by a zither in a cave somewhere in Spain. The Yukon at dawn. An antique emotion moving around in our blood like a cat.
A black cat with iridescent eyes and a murderous ease.
Is there a sound for sand? When sand is barely moving but evidence of its moving is available to the fingers, its grains tricking between our fingers in equations of fluent particularity?
There is a certain aroma in Rome that hints of lamps. That meanders over the kneecap like a hand. There is nothing mechanical about the numeral zero. Zero is not available to our nerves. It stands for nothing, means nothing. Literally. It is a sign for nothing. But zeros are involved in the search for dark matter. Quadratic equations attempt to unify vacuum energy, radiation and dark energy with a constant density equaling that of a Planck density and by doing so reveal (if we are lucky) the symmetry of an early universe of vacuum energy plus radiation with our more recent universe with radiation and dark energy. These are polytropic equations, or the raw spontaneity of conjurations made on the spur of the moment. In any event, all quadratic equations require the use of zero, as if zero were a kind of singing, an acacia in back of a church that anchors itself in the imagination when there is nothing else there to indicate cobblestones or gerunds. Nothing that isn’t ambiguous, ambivalent, or trout. Our blood will be our salary. Our heat will be our morality. Everything else is intricate and exponential, and so the room expands, and the heart with it, as our words emerge from the vinegar of description to reflect the message of parallels coming from the prodigal wildlife of a temperature in love with pi.
Dark matter, indeed. Words just glitter out of it, as if born there, as if born to a medium that breaks in the hand like a pod of water lotus.
Look at the clouds some evening when the sun goes down, how they accumulate light, flare it out in reds and violets and oranges and turquoise, then darken into shapes the honky tonk moon turns to different matter. To matters of better understanding. The humility of gravel. The snapping of veins against a startling nipple of fleshly undulation. And the world is so perpetuated by these yearnings that something dark comes out of it and bounces into the eyes in a strudel of electrifying darkness. And one’s being lights up in such ecstasy, to know that existence can be this audacious, this ability to stick to itself with such lyrical mathematics that occurrence is a whirl with apricot declarations and unscrupulous temperatures. And escalators act like tides. And words grow large and borscht in their sugar of grace.