Dark Matter: The Movie
Actor Liu Ye before the cosmic web of DARK MATTER
Controversy about Dark Matter has been with us at least since Fritz Zwicky in the 1930's. From motions of the Coma Cluster in Berenices, Zwicky deduced the existence of unseen mass. His eccentric manner earned Zwicky much derision from colleagues, whom he called "spherical bastards" because they appeared that way from any direction. Astronomer Vera Rubin saw spherical haloes of dark matter in the rotation curves of galaxies. On the way she probably encountered challenges to women and to new ideas, dark matters which have always been with us.
Argument about this unseen mass continues to this day. An alternative theory called Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) has been championed by Mordecai Milgrom since the 1960's. Recently observations of the Bullet Cluster seemed to confirm the Dark Matter's existence, but MOND advocates quickly found a way to make observation fit their theory. Argument exists whether Dark Matter is composed of Black Holes, undiscovered particles, old AOL disks, something else or a combination.
DARK MATTER is a film by opera and theatre director Chen Shi-Zheeng. Liu Xing (Shooting Star) arrives at an American PhD program with plans to study the Universe. His talents get him accepted into the cosmology group by department head Aidan Quinn and wealthy patron Meryl Streep. He accompanies his professor to a cosmology conference and comes up with an original Theory about Dark Matter.
Liu clings to belief that science is a free market for ideas. Unfortunately his Theory conflicts with the professor's model and the hierarchical university system. After being warned against pursuing his idea, Liu publishes on his own. The paper is derided, his dissertation is rejected, and Liu finds himself unemployed in a strange land. His frustrations explode in a graphically violent end. The movie was inspired by a University of Iowa physics department meeting in 1991, when a grad student killed five colleagues and himself.
DARK MATTER the movie was completed a year ago, but sat on the shelf because of the Virginia Tech tragedy. (The campus had been declared a gun-free zone, which didn't discourage the lunatic from mowing down 32 defenseless people.) Some of us women have encountered opposition from professors who possibly didn't need to be around. Having enjoyed similiar experiences, one can say that there are better ways than violence. Better to let them live long enough to see how wrong they were.
The exact amount of Dark Matter can be predicted from pure math. It is 23.87%, exactly matching the WMAP findings within half a standard deviation. Theory also provides big clues to what the Dark Matter really is. The amount of baryonic matter can also be predicted as 4.507034%, also matching WMAP within half an S.D. When a prediction fits the data this closely, perhaps someday more people will take notice. Until then, it is fun asking lecturers about the 4.507034% and seeing their befuddled reaction.
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