Written by IainB
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Thursday, 26 July 2012

image for Dark matter is out, sticky matter is in
Is this a picture of coffee or a galaxy?

In theoretical physics and cosmological circles there has been a good mannered debate raging for several decades over what is holding all the matter in galaxies together.

"It's quite simple," said Brian Cox, presenter of The Sky At Night. "When we weighed the centre of the galaxy we discovered that it doesn't weigh enough to hold all the stars and nebulae in orbit around it."

Various theories were proposed to explain this discrepancy. Modified Newtonian Gravity (or MONG) that says gravity changes over distance in a proportional and not linear way, as Newton suggested. Scientists didn't like this theory as it was hard to test, far to simplistic and didn't require massive particle accelerators or telescopes. Dark Matter was born, matter we can't see, because it's dark and space is dark. Scientists like this one, and went looking for what dark matter is.

"Sadly, we've never been able to find it," said Cox. "It was suggested that this is because it is made from weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs."

Now, a new theory has hit the shelves, ready to be picked for delivery. Sticky Matter.

"In essence, this is a nice theory," said Cox. "The idea was proposed by Jason Livermore, a seven year-old at Broadbottom Primary school, and was quickly picked up by the world's scientists."

According to Cox. Livermore saw that the froth on his mum's coffee span around inside the coffee cup without breaking up, and without the need for any kind of dark matter. Apart from the coffee, which didn't have milk in it. The froth reminded Livermore of a picture of the milky way he'd seen in class that morning.

"In a flash of genius," said Cox, "Livermore realised it was held together by surface tension, and his calculation on how this scaled up to galactic scales was as simple and as elegant as only a child with Key Stage 1 Maths could create."

Cosmologists are now testing the Sticky Matter theory, and so far, it's holding up.

"For solving one of cosmology's greatest problems," said Cox, "Livermore has become the youngest post-doc ever. And has a place at Cambridge or Oxford, if he wants it. However, he's said he'd rather stay at home with his mum in Broadbottom, because neither Oxford nor Cambridge have Sky TV, and he likes watching Ben 10."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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