What are the alternatives to dark matter and dark energy?
Question asked by: knowitall
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The alternatives to dark matter and dark energy are many.
The first point to make is that if we say that dark matter (whatever that may physically consist of) and dark energy (whatever that may physically consist of) do NOT exist, then we need to explain the apparent mass of the universe.
The obvious move would be to contest the measurement of the mass of the universe, and hence whether 'ordinary' matter really does only make up around 4% of the mass?
If we have somehow over-counted the mass, perhaps by counting the same galaxies 20 times by mistake or some error in our calculations, then it could turn out that either there is much less mass in the universe than we thought, or that ordinary matter could account for this mass. In which case we would not need to posit other types of matter.
Another possibility that some have posited is the notion - very controversially - of variable gravity, which of course really would be a fundamental change.
The idea here is that gravity is not uniform but acts stronger in some places than other, or on a grander scale than the sum of its parts somehow.
The attraction here is that, for instance, we would not need to posit dark matter to keep a galaxy from flying apart but rather exhibiting the behaviour it has, as with the same mass but somehow a stronger gravity on the scale of the galaxy, it could be held in place.
The other explanatory move that could be made may be mind boggling too. This is where we take into account the mass of other dimensions that we may not be aware of.
Because we are only aware of the three spatial dimensions and the one time dimension it can be very hard to imagine what other dimensions could be like, however they offer an excellent possibility to explain the nature of the world around us.
One possibility is that the dimension of time which we think as having no spatial reality does actually have some physical properties, and one of these is mass.
Another perhaps more attractive possibility is that the 'missing matter' and 'missing energy' is simply in other dimensions of the universe that we don't have access to.
This would be because, most likely, the dimensions are so incredibly small - we can detect their contributing mass on the grand scale of a galxy or the universe, but could not access those dimensions directly.
The matter in those dimensions could indeed be strange stuff, or, in fact, ordinary particles that we are relatively familiar with.
The final possibility, with regard dark energy, is to place the gravitational force outside of our universe. If we were one universe in a sea of floating multiverses, then clearly the gravity of these other universes would attract our own, and the pull would get stronger as our own universe expands.
Hence, if there are many universes in the cosmos, then the massive gravitational attraction of other universes on our own could explain the observed fact that our galaxies are moving apart from each other at increasing speeds.
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