Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Looking For Mister Goodbaryonic Matter

I think everyone's mother has, at one time or another, uttered these words: "Well, it didn't just sprout legs and walk out of here, did it?" This would be the admonition one might hear when something has gone missing and you have looked, cross your heart, everywhere for it. At our house, we are fond of the more sarcastic reply: "Oh, I didn't know that it was my week to watch" whatever it is that the other person can find hide nor hair.
It's terrible to lose things. I have ruined entire days looking for this or that when I was sure that I left it right over there. I pride myself on keeping very close tabs on all of my accouterments, and when one or more of them go missing, I take it as a personal failure of galactic proportions. So imagine my glee when I heard that astronomers have found some matter that had been missing in deep space. It had been missing, for our purposes, since time began.
Scientists have long known there is far more matter in the universe than can be accounted for by visible galaxies and stars. If you have trouble keeping your socks in pairs from one load of laundry to the next, you can relate. Not only is there invisible baryonic matter, the protons and neutrons that make up atoms, but there also is an even larger amount of invisible "dark" matter.
Now about half of the missing baryonic matter has turned up, seen by the orbiting Hubble space telescope and NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, or FUSE. I'm guessing that it would be much easier to find my wife's glasses if we were allowed to use some of NASA's resources.
What does this mean? Will Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earheart suddenly show up? What about those guys on Oceanic Flight 815? And while we're looking for lost things, how about Marshall, Will and Holly? And my self respect?
Oh well, at least now we know where the backbone of the universe is. Now maybe I'll be able to find my car keys.

1 comment:

mrs. id said...

Maybe when the Hubble finds the "single sock belt" that will account for the other half.