My wife revels in crime. That is, I should say, the TV versions of it. NCIS, CSI, Hawaii 50, The Mentalist, Blue Blood. They all have her glued to the set, waiting for the resolution of the plot.
I prefer to read about crime. The fictional sort. And Sherlock Holmes is my favorite. Hercule Poirot a close second.
What all these literary and dramatic sleuths have in common is deductive thinking……..and science.
Science itself was born from mystery. And all the great scientists from Galileo on gathered material evidence in the pursuit of truth.
In the current National Geographic issue, famed scientist and explainer of science Timothy Ferris explores two cosmic mysteries. What holds the universe together? And what is causing the universe to expand more rapidly?
Admittedly, these mysteries don’t involve a corpus delicti, and the accused will not have to be read their Miranda rights.
But, that’s all small picture stuff. And nothing says big like the Universe.
Most of us in answer to the first mystery would say gravity holds the universe together. But Ferris points out in his wonderful essay that there just isn’t enough visible matter to account for that. So into the picture comes the invisible: Dark matter.
And what force is revving up the expansion of our universe? Dark energy.
Here’s Timothy Ferris: “[Cosmologists] have also concluded that all the stars and galaxies they see in the sky make up only 5 percent of the observable universe. The invisible majority consists of 27 percent dark matter and 68 percent dark energy. Both of them are mysteries. Dark matter is thought to be responsible for sculpting the glowing sheets and tendrils of galaxies that make up the large-scale structure of the universe—yet nobody knows what it is. Dark energy is even more mysterious; the term, coined to denote whatever is accelerating the rate at which the cosmos expands, has been called a ‘general label for what we do not know about the large-scale properties of our universe.'”
So there you have it. We’ve been taught about the duality of light and darkness. And all our instincts and intuitions and accumulated wisdom have settled on the goodness of the former and the evil of the latter. And what do you know. Now we discover that, at least, on the cosmic level, we owe more to the latter than we ever imagined.