Whats the difference between dark energy and magic?

Was reading a fascinating article on “dark energy” in February’s Scientific American

sciam.com/article.cfm?articl … sc=I100322

The nub of the article is that this DE is great stuff as it accounts for loads of things that the cosmologists couldn’t explain – Galaxys moving apart faster then they should, the way matter constitutes itself on a grand scale and lots of issues.

That’s all well and good but what exactly distinguishes this from the notorious idea of a “fiddle factor” ie a term introduced into an equation to make it work but which is just an unexplained term
(maybe it gets explained later)?

I mean its almost as if the scientists are saying here’s the universe – we thought it expaned in this way – but observation proved us wrong.
OK here’s this miraculous new stuff DE which now explains all.

Ordinary energy is described in detail (Ok my physics is weak!) can be measured, has wavelength etc – can be experimented on – transferred – changed to different forms etc?

What EXACTLY is dark energy?
The article seems extremely vague – Apparently its everywhere in the universe but all of it could fit into an asteroid? And it has it has QUOTE

“the same density, about 10-26 kilogram per cubic meter, equivalent to a handful of hydrogen atoms”

I didn’t know energy had density? Why doesn’t it have normal stuff like a wavelength, a measure of its energetic potential, a temperature or something? What distinguishes it from the scientist just saying “there’s this magic stuff that makes our calculations agree with observation”

I know this isn’t a science forum – but surely there’s an epistemological question as to what is the exact status of this DE as an object of science or knowledge?

Any of you science fans want to give it a bash – Maybe this DE is described elsewhere in great detail and I’m totally wrong which is fine – I’m more curious then any thing…

With dark energy, also referred as dark matter, the reason it dosent have a mesurment like normal energy or matter is that science cannot detect it, with gravity you can messure its effects on a rather small scale and calculate its values.

Dark (aka. unknown) energy cannot be measured on such a small scale, they can calculate it as a form of density due to its effects on a large scale that is simmilar to the effects if mass, but such astronomical calculations have incredible margins of error leaving much to be desired.

Scientists have no idea what dark energy is, they use the term dark to mean unknown and ite calculations on it are very close to being a “fiddle factor” in that they are a calculatiuon of the unknown variables. ie. the degrees of effect on known variables. which by the way is quite impressive considering all the possabilaties.

Proposed theories on dark energy fall more into the relm of philosophy than of physics specifically due to the fact that it cant be accuratly mesured. As such posts on a philosophy website may indeed be more common than in scientific websites.

Among many philosophers who deal in metaphysics, ie physics beyond, there seems to be a common theory linking dark energy to psychic phenomon, this is also a common theory in quantum physics, but since neither of the two is accepted as creditable such theories are often disgarded.

That’s easy… Darth Vader has Dark Energy and Yoda has magical energy. Come on… everybody knows that! :laughing:

for some reason bane right now your name seems very apt. but then I have been known to have a very dry sense of humor.

Dark Energy ?

Sounds like yet another theory designed to add weight to the creationist myth called the BIG BANG.

Read this —> whatreallyhappened.com/bang.html


Who came up with the idea of a BIG BANG…?

A Roman Catholic Priest called Georges Lemaître.

Reading a little further, I understand where krossie is coming from. It seems the scientists my be convieniently using “Dark Energy” (Which is a really ‘cool’ sounding term) to fill in magical ‘gaps’. Much in the way people talk about God, spirits, or magic filling in ‘gaps’ they can’t explain or tarnish their theories or beliefs.

Also theyclaim that dark matter and dark energy are very different.

But if neither can be described - if niether “an object of knowledge” - how can they even distinguish them or make any claims about them?


If it can’t be seen with the naked eye and/or felt by the hand . . . Does any matter matter…?

* sweeps hand through the air; creating a cooling breeze between the crotches of his fingers *

The Good-Ship-Cosmology pays its crew too well . . . Its Big-Banging Captain sometimes gets bored and wants to turn back . . . So all the sailors stand at the bow shouting “Land Ahoy” to ensure their next paycheck.

This model can be applied to many arenas.

I suppose such a thing is human nature isn’t it though, modern science has a certin mesure of reliability but when their credibility is in danger they try to salvage what they can for that reliability, simmilar to how the cathloic church silenced galilaio when his confirmable theories challenged established beliefs.

In my oppinion, true science is not concerned such things and is motivated by the desire to understand rather than the desire to know and tell, frued was a true scientist in the fact that he challenged conventional knowledge not for the sake of fame but to learn what was unknown.

personally I would like to learn the nature of this so called dark energy and or matter, it would prove a great experiance, but then the people who often challenge the status quo often become its scapegoats unless they can congirm their theories.

frued was concidered a charlatin amoungst his peers and still concidered a quack today, even though many of his theories have become accepted as common knowledge.


Theories of physics are ofcourse incomplete, in the same way that their creators are incomplete. And vague mystical attributes/labels are set into the areas which are either not there, or not known. :stuck_out_tongue:

Theories of physics are stuff useful, though.

Dark energy could be Reich’s orgone energy.

Now there’s an idea - could do with a bit of it now actually - Question Try for girl friend or lack myself in the laboratory for 10 years working on a gigantic orgone accumulator box?

…he he he

I think I’ll take option two - slightly easier!

Could it (dark matter at any rate) also be a return to the old aether idea? -Physicists at the turn of the century thought it pervaded the whole universe (or maybe just their university - fie these academics and their egos!)


so true, so true - fucking academics and their careful grooming “radical position”, status, salary and position in the hierarchy/feeding trough!!

Nietzsche had it right - rented room, candle, madness!!!

I was watching a hilarious newspiece on the ‘fat gene’ last night where they interviewed a half-dozen scientists, all of which were hailing this ‘discovery’ as being of great importance but none of which actually said that we knew anything about this gene, one even said that we didn’t know anything about it, while simultaneously saying that the discovery was of great importance.

But I suppose ‘scientists are clueless about fat gene’ doesn’t make for big headlines, or big uni budgets, or increased reputations, or book sales.

One day, all that will remain of contemporary science will be internet broadcasts of Big Brother-style shows of clinical laboratories where the scientists have to make progress in their experimentation otherwise they get voted off the show and injected with the AIDS virus. Trust me, it’s coming. And when it does, we’ll look back to articles about perfect bacon sandwiches and say ‘you see, that’s where it all went wrong’.


Mind you some might deserve it. At least the “dark energy” heads are out there trying to explain themselves and so on. More worrying even is the privitisation of all that biotechnology research - so that the basis of scientific inquiry - the free exchange of ideas between experimenters is closing down fast.

And then, of course, there’s those “post-modern” academics who seem to “rule” so many humanities/arts departments…


One problem I do have with nothingness (total vacuum) in space . . . is light.

Is light a wave or a particle ?

If it’s a particle how can it weigh nothing ?

If it’s a wave how can it travel through nothing ?

What is the temperature of a photon when it’s travelling at the speed of light ?

Are photons antimatter, and as such, should they be weighed in ’ minus grams ’ ???

What is a ’ photon gas ’ ???

If time stops when travelling at the speed of light, could I live forever as a light-beam following a curved path ?

etc. . . etc.

Wow, how interesting - a question that requires technical knowledge, and then a large handful of totally irrelevant responses! C’mon guys, do the research, or at least don’t go for the “I can’t say anything intelligent so I’m going to try to be witty” thing.

  1. Dark Energy is NOT the same thing as Dark Matter in any sense. Dark Matter is a hypothetical explanation for why spiral galaxies don’t spin themselves apart, and Dark Energy is a hypothetical explanation for why the universe is accelerating at the observed rate.

  2. Sure, energy has density. You can see this in two different ways. First, Einstein’s famous equation E=mc^2 says that energy and matter are basically the same thing. Matter has density, so energy should too. Second, imagine a powerful flashlight with a new set of batteries. Bright light. But then the batteries are almost dead. Same light shape, just a lot weaker. Less energy in the same space. Less energy density.

  3. It’s definitely reasonable to criticize the ideas of Dark Energy and Dark Matter as totally invented, almost definitionally unobservable entities that are just created to try to explain shit. String Theory is the same way. In the end, though, if it increases our ability for accurate prediction, I’m a fan, even if it’s not aesthetically pleasing in the least.

  4. Most of what OnlyHuman said is wrong. Dark Energy is different from Dark Matter. Astronomical calculations have incredibly SMALL margins of error relative to what they’re measuring. Proposed theories of Dark Energy do NOT fall more under Philosophy than Physics, because Philosophy is a mostly-inept field of inquiry that is mostly incapable of accurate fine-detail extended logical analysis, and also because in order to say anything precise about Dark Energy, you need to know what numbers you’re looking to match - all about physics. Last, where theories of psychic phenomena are not accepted as creditable, theories of Dark Energy are met with rational skepticism, but are much, much more credible, and may turn out to be the accepted model within the next 20 years.

  5. SirEbrum, terrible post. The link you sent has a few reasonable points, and a whole host of stupid ones. The stupid ones should never have been said; the reasonable ones are points that an intelligent lay person might think to ask, but which the physicist considers answered. Finally, the tag line at the top of the page - that the Govt. hopes you don’t learn the truth about the big bang - is so over-the-top conspiracy theory that it’s ridiculous. Conspiracy theory about 9/11, maybe - the govt. had something to gain. What do they gain about feeding us false tails about the origin of the universe?

  6. Bane, and others - you mention that Dark Energy is just a convenient “fill in the gap” idea. This is pretty accurate. It doesn’t make it wrong - it turns out that the idea of Dark Energy solves a lot of cosmological problems. But it does make it kinda lame. We’re at a definite point in theoretical physics where it’s a patchwork model - if you see something that doesn’t match up with the theory, just add in a little exception, or generally-unmeasurable-phenomenon. Again, doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but it is suspicious, and a very non-aesthetic way for physics to function.

Their reaction is absolutely the reasonable one, unless there’s information you haven’t given. If we find the fat gene, then we know where to look for medications, predictions of inheritance, links to certain protein sequences, and so on. Sure, we don’t know any of those things yet - but we know where to look for them, and that’s much more than half the battle.

If a meteorite crashes to earth and is found to have non-terrestrial life on it, that would also be hugely important, and we could say that for certain without knowing anything else about it.


Both. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_particle_duality

It doesn’t weigh nothing. If you measure the energy of the photon, you can calculate the mass of the photon using E=mc^2. m = E / c^2.

Well, I wouldn’t call the fabric of space-time nothing.

Temperature is a measure of average kinetic energy. Thus the temperature of a single photon is its kinetic energy. This is really just the same as its Energy, and the energy of a photon is easy to compute.

Yes, photons are anti-matter. Cool that you knew enough to ask this. No, you don’t measure them in minus grams - anti-matter is NOT negative matter. It’s closer to the mirror image of matter. Anti-matter has mass the same as normal matter does. In fact, you could construct a whole person out of anti-matter, and they’d act exactly the same as themself made out of regular matter. Only thing is, if either of them ever shook hands, there’d be an explosion big enough to take out half of America.


Yes, you would live forever; but because time stops, you wouldn’t experience infinite life. You’d actually experience the entire lifetime of the universe in 0 seconds. So if you ever have the option, don’t go for it.

The tag line . . .

. . . is connected to the name of the website, not the article in question.

The government would have nothing to lose or gain . . . but the Church…?

Here, read this pdf instead (only 2 pages) cosmology.info/press/2005.06 … llowup.pdf

I meant if you slowed it down to a standstill and then weighed it.

And the fabric of space-time consists of what ?

Then why, according to Google, are you the first person to utter that phrase ?

What Sc-Fi novel did you pluck that from ?

To clarify: when I said " could I live forever as a light-beam " I meant becoming a sentient being composed only of photons and travelling at light speed.

Ah, sorry for misunderstanding the tagline. But the Church? The only way I can see them gaining anything from the idea of the Big Bang is, in general, if they promoted a very stupid scientific idea that would eventually come out to be a big hoax, so that people would be pissed off at scientists and then turn back to the Church. Is this what you’re claiming? I really don’t think the Big Bang theory works that way. 1) It’s doubtful it’ll ever be shown to be clearly false. Also 2) Even if it were shown to be false, very few people would actually retreat to supernatural explanations because of that alone.

The article you cite is funded by and based on the minutes of a meeting of the Alternative Cosmology group, a group dedicated to the idea that the Big Bang hypothesis is wrong. In standard astronomy, data that challenges and reinforces the Big Bang is brought up all the time. If there is challenging data, it is either shown to be poor data, or else brought to the attention of the larger scientific community. I’m well aware that academia has a lot of huge imperfections - inertia, unwillingness to look past its currently accepted models, power struggles, and so on - but I have a very hard time believing that good evidence against the Big Bang wouldn’t’ve made its way into The New Scientist, NY Times Science, and so on. Basically, I’m saying I’d like to see data that has made it into a standard astronomy peer-reviewed journal, or even is just on arxiv.org.

Sure, then it would have zero weight. And you’re asking how that is possible? There are lots of things of zero weight. Space-time fabric has zero weight. It’s all around you.

Remember, a photon is a capsule of energy. To think of it as a particle, you can see that the particle’s total contribution to the universe consist of its rest mass, and its velocity (simplification, of course, but follow me here). But a photon is a unit of PURE ENERGY, so it doesn’t have rest mass - all it has is the energy of velocity. If you somehow really and truly “slowed a photon down” (as opposed to using a clever Bose-Einstein condensate method that simulates the effect) it would literally vanish.

Hell if I know. It might be entirely meaningless to ask that question, but I don’t know about that either.

Because you don’t know enough about advanced physics to ask Google the right question. Try Googling “photon own antiparticle”, a nice Google shorthand for the fact that a photon is its own antiparticle. It is both matter and antimatter. Kinda a neat twist.

A very esoteric and hard to find novel called “the graduate level course on Advanced Relativity I took at Duke University”.

The reasons why are actually pretty simple (as far as physics goes). The Lorentz transformation equation for time based on relative velocity is

T_observed = T_rest / sqrt (1 - v^2 / c^2).

Think about that from the point of view of you observing a photon, and from the point of view of a photon observing you.

Huh, that would be very improbable. I mean, one of the reasons matter works so well for life is that it has a lot of coherent forms - as solid beings, we don’t separate from ourselves (at least, not without some effort). If there was no such thing as a solid state of matter, life would be a lot less likely to exist. Basically, intelligence (and life) requires INTERACTION, pieces of matter interacting with itself. The same thing is true of energy. So if you imagine a being of pure energy, you’re talking about nothing but a shitload of photons, all bouncing off each other in ways that correspond to intelligence. Theoretically possible, but statistically pretty much impossible. If you take a big cloud of photons in the middle of space, they’re going to disperse like crazy, much worse than any gas.

So yeah, numerous Star Trek episodes notwithstanding, don’t get your hopes up for Beings of Pure Energy.

Hi twiffy - I for one would like to welcome the emergence of anyone who knows what they are talking about! I’m trying to learn a bit of science as oppossed to annoy anyone :slight_smile:

However its the phrase:

with regards to either dark energy or dark matter that constitutes the problem for me!