Author: Lisa Randall
I thought that physicists had given up. In the 1980s and 1990s, when they decided that the universe was mostly made of dark matter and dark energy – two substances that are basically undetectable – I figured that they had finally thrown in the towel. Invoking such seemingly magical substances to explain the world around us seemed like a step all the way back to the Dark Ages (pun intended). Did they really know what they were doing, or had decades of quantum wackiness finally driven them off the deep end? Thanks to Lisa Randall, a particle physicist at Harvard University, my nerd angst has been assuaged. In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, she makes some sense of this modern view of the world, even if it remains stranger than anyone could ever have imagined.
Unfortunately, while dark matter is the consensus explanation for the “missing” mass that makes galaxies spin faster than they should, the nature of this substance hasn’t become much clearer over recent decades. Randall presents plenty of solid evidence to prove that it exists, but admits that an understanding of what it actually is remains a significant challenge. Although mysteries remain, she does present a coherent perspective that at least makes the whole idea less magical.