Wednesday, May 23, 2007

176)Just because we cannot see it does not mean it is not there: true for both the worlds of matter and spirit.

The conventional saying for many is that if something cannot be seen or experienced with the senses, it must not be there or cannot exist. Others inclined towards more esoteric possibilities or manifestations in the realm of spirit will tell you otherwise.

From the world of science, however, comes the news that its not just the world of spirit that is the harbinger of things unseen but also the world of matter. I blogged about it before here:

From the following utterance we learn that all manifestations in the Universe exist at the behest of the Divine Command or Divine Will:

"Allah alone wishes: the Universe exists; and all manifestations are as a witness of the Divine Will". So said the 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, Aga Khan III.

Further advances in investigative science continue to shed more light on this mysterious, unseen material substance that pervades the universe and literally shapes everything we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses:

The prints of darkness

May 17th 2007
From The Economist print edition

A ghostly ripple of dark matter is “seen”.

EITHER Newton and Einstein were wrong, or there is something missing from the universe. The reason for this is that galaxies do not behave as the laws of gravity predict they should. Most galaxies rotate at a speed that should cause them to fly apart if all that holds their visible matter together is gravity, as physicists understand it. So either that understanding is flawed, or there is more to the average galaxy than meets the eye.

Most physicists tend to the latter opinion. They think the universe is stuffed with invisible matter composed of particles different from the ones that make up visible matter and the gravity of this “dark” matter holds galaxies together. Their equations all make sense if that is true. The problem is that invisible, dark matter is, well, invisible. But data from the Hubble space telescope, about to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, may have overcome its obscurity.

A couple of years ago James Jee of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and his colleagues trained Hubble on a cluster of galaxies 5 billion light years from Earth and used a technique called gravitational lensing to work out how mass is distributed within this cluster. A gravitational lens is formed when light is bent by a massive object. Einstein predicted the distortion of light in this way in 1915, as part of his general theory of relativity. Three years later a British physicist, Arthur Eddington, decided to test this idea by watching what happened to light from stars that were close in the sky to the sun during a solar eclipse. Sure enough, their light was bent by the mass of the sun, confirming Einstein's theory.

By looking at how a cluster distorts the faint light coming from galaxies behind it, Dr Jee and his team created a map of the distribution of its mass. They then compared that with what they could actually see. Instead of finding that the mass coincided with the location of the ordinary, visible matter of stars, as had been seen in observations of other clusters, they found a distortion.

After trying and failing for months to explain this distortion away, Dr Jee accepted it was real and sought to account for it. The most plausible explanation is that the cluster contains a distinct ring of dark matter without any accompanying ordinary matter.

To try to find out where this ring had come from, the team trawled through previous literature on the cluster. They found an earlier suggestion of a truly enormous collision between the cluster and one of its neighbours between 1 billion and 2 billion years ago. This work, published in 2002 by Oliver Czoske of Bonn University in Germany, was based on an analysis of the distribution of visible matter in the neighbourhood.

Dr Jee and his colleagues think the ring is evidence of this collision. When the impact happened, the dark matter in the clusters also collided. It then rebounded, rather as a ripple spreads after a stone has been thrown into a pond. And that rippling ring may be proof that Newton and Einstein were right after all.


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan IV(2006)
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan III(1952)
Our interpretation of Islam places enormous value on knowledge. Knowledge is the reflection of faith if it is used properly. Seek out that knowledge and use it properly:Aga Khan IV(2005)