Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs

The intuition that ‘all is one’ dates back at least to the early Greeks. This sense that there is a fundamental unity to all existence is expressed in Parmenides(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmenides), and is found in much of the ancient religious tradition of the Far East. In more recent times philosphers such as Spinoza articulated their world view according to this insight.¬†Today, contemporary science is discovering the inter-connectedness of all things in fascinating ways. In this book Harvard Professor of Physics Lisa Randall (https://www.physics.harvard.edu/people/facpages/randall, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Randall) explores the causes of the fifth major extinction event, which occurred 66 million years ago and wiped out terrestrial dinosaurs and three-quarters of all other species living on Earth. In doing so she lays bare some intriguing connections.

Dinosaurs flourished on Earth for 135 million years (which is at least 1000 times longer than Homo Sapiens has so far been on the planet). Geologists and paleontologists now agree that their relatively sudden extinction is attributable to the impact of a comet or asteroid hitting the Earth and precipitating major climate change. The author seeks to test her hypothesis that ‘a disk of dark matter in the plane of the Milky Way was responsible for triggering the meteoroid’s fatal trajectory’. For Randall, the role of dark matter in the evolution of the universe is the next scientific frontier. Dark matter constitutes 85 percent of the matter in the universe. It is not composed of atoms or electrons (the stuff of ordinary matter), and it does not interact with light or other radiation. We only know of its existence because of its measurable gravitational effects. Randall believes that it may have played a significant role in the existence of life on Earth not only by triggering a major climate-changing meteoroid collision, but by precipitating smaller impacts that deposited the heavy elements necessary for life (e.g. carbon) and possibly even amino acids. Now that the existence of the Higgs boson has been confirmed, the author is setting her sights on this exciting scientific area, which is built on the advances in scientific understanding of cosmic events over the past 50 years. Specifically, this involves establishing the possibility that there was a periodicity in the five extinction events reflective of still-unknown cosmic events possibly involving dark matter. Inevitably there is much speculation in this book, but it will prove to be a bracing start to your reading in 2016. One hopes the matter does not remain too dark.

 

Enquire at your local library or consult http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Matter-Dinosaurs-Astounding-Interconnectedness/dp/1847923062/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451666502&sr=8-1&keywords=dark+matter+and+the+dinosaurs for full bibliographic detail.

 

432 pages in Bodley Head

First published 2015

ISBN 978-1847923066

 

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Professor Lisa Randall

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