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Is Dark Matter a Glimpse of a Deeper Level of Reality?
Scientific American ^ | 6/11/12 | George Musser

Posted on 06/13/2012 11:11:54 AM PDT by LibWhacker

Two years ago several of my Sci Am colleagues and I had an intense email exchange over a period of weeks, trying to figure out what to make of a new paper by string theorist Erik Verlinde. I don’t think I’ve ever been so flummoxed by physicists’ reactions to a paper. Mathematically it could hardly have been simpler—the level of middle-school algebra for the most part. Logically and physically, it was a head-hurter. I couldn’t decide whether it was profound or trite. The theorists we consulted said they couldn’t follow it, which we took as a polite way of saying that their colleague had gone off the deep end. Some physics bloggers came out and called Verlinde a crackpot.

For those who know Verlinde, that label hardly fits. He is a brilliant theorist, and the amount of discussion his paper provoked suggested that most of his colleagues saw something in it. The whole story caught the eye of New Scientist and the New York Times, but ultimately we at Sci Am opted for watchful waiting. I caught up with Verlinde this spring during a workshop at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. He has doubled-down on his original paper, and his colleagues’ reaction hasn’t changed. One told me: “There are a lot of ideas he’s bringing together in an interesting way, but it’s a little hard for us to decipher, so I’m withholding judgment.” All he has really done, though, is take a general sentiment among string theorists and follow it to its logical conclusion.

String theorists and other would-be unifiers of physics face a basic problem. The theories they seek to unify, quantum field theory and Einstein’s general theory of relativity, are well-grounded and well-tested, yet mutually incompatible. Reconciling them will demand that some deeply held intuition must give way. One such intuition is that the world exists within space and time. Participants at the Kavli workshop were inclined to think that space and time are not fundamental, but emergent. The universe we seeing playing out in space and time may be just the surface level, where we float like little boats while leviathans stir in the deep.

Black holes provide the strongest argument for this point of view. The laws of gravity predict that these cosmic vacuum cleaners obey versions of the laws of thermodynamics, which is strange, because thermodynamics is the branch of physics that describes composite systems, such as gases made up of molecules. A black hole sure doesn’t look like a composite system. It just looks like a warped region of space that you would do well to stay away from. For it to be composite, space itself must be.

In that case, black holes represent a new phase of matter. Outside the hole, the universe’s “degrees of freedom”—all that its most fundamental building blocks are capable of—are in a low-energy state, forming what you might think of as a crystal, with a fixed, regular arrangement we perceive as the spacetime continuum. But inside the hole, conditions become so extreme that the continuum breaks apart. “You can make spacetime melt,” Verlinde told me. “This is really where spacetime ends. To understand what goes on, you need to use these underlying degrees of freedom.” Those degrees of freedom cannot be thought of as existing in one place or another. They transcend space. Their true venue is a ginormous abstract realm of possibilities—in the jargon, a “phase space” commensurate with their almost unimaginably rich repertoire of behaviors.

Verlinde’s 2010 paper applied this reasoning to the laws of gravity themselves. Instead of being a fundamental force of nature, as almost all physicists since Newton have thought, gravity may be an “entropic force”—a product of some finer-scale dynamics, much as the pressure force in a gas arises from collective molecular motions. At Kavli he went further and argued that the notion of emergent spacetime transforms our entire conception of the universe. “If you realize there’s much more phase space than we usually assume—much more—you will think about cosmology differently,” he argued.

For starters, dark matter may be a glimpse into the depths. To account for anomalous motions within galaxies and larger systems, astronomers think our universe must be filled with some invisible material that outweighs ordinary matter by a factor of five to one. They have never detected the material directly, though, and for something that is supposed to be so overwhelmingly dominant, dark matter has a puzzlingly subtle effect. The anomalous motions occur only in the unfashionable outskirts of galaxies. Stars and gas clouds out there move faster than they should, but don’t do anything truly wacky—it is as if the gravitational field of the visible galaxy were simply being amplified.

Consequently, some astronomers and physicists suspect there may be no dark matter after all. If you notice the floorboards in your house are sagging, as if there is too much weight on them, you might conclude there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room with you. You see no gorilla, so it must be invisible. You hear no gorilla, so it must be silent. You smell no gorilla, so it must be odorless. After a while, the gorilla seems so improbably stealthy that you begin to think there must be some other explanation for the sagging floorboards—the house has settled, say. Likewise, perhaps the laws of gravity and motion which led astronomers to deduce dark matter are wrong. “I think dark matter will be a sign of another type of physics,” Verlinde said.

The leading alternative to dark matter is known as MOND, for Modified Newtonian Dynamics. Verlinde has reinterpreted MOND not just as a tweak to the laws of physics, but as evidence for a vast substratum. He derived the MOND formula by assuming dark matter is not a novel type of particle but the vibrations of some underlying degrees of freedom—specifically, vibrations produced by random thermal fluctuations. Such fluctuations are muted and become conspicuous only where the average thermal energy is low, such as in the outskirts of galaxies. Astoundingly, Verlinde even derived the five-to-one ratio. “I started seeing this as a manifestation of this larger phase space,” he said.

MOND is super-iffy, as cosmologist Sean Carroll has detailed in a series of blog posts over the years, most recently this one. I’m inclined to agree, but one thing gives me pause. MOND manages to account for a wide range of anomalous galactic motions with one simple formula. Even if MOND doesn’t overturn the laws of physics, it has shown that dark matter behaves in a simple way. All the complicated dynamics of dark matter must somehow settle down into a very regular pattern. Dark-matter modelers tell me they have yet to explain this.

Verlinde bucks conventional wisdom not only on dark matter, but also on much of the rest of cosmology. For instance, he has reintroduced elements of the steady-state theory that most cosmologists thought they had ruled out in the 1960s. In his model, all matter—ordinary as well as dark—consists of vibrations of the underlying degrees of freedom and so is being created and destroyed all the time. In fact, the same degrees of freedom also explain dark energy, thereby unifying all the components of the universe. What differentiates these components is how fast they respond: ordinary matter is the surface chop, dark matter the languid but powerful deep currents, and dark energy the quiet bulk of the sea. As for another leading cosmological theory, cosmic inflation, he doesn’t think much of that, either.

The grander his claims become, the less plausible they seem. Still, Verlinde has captured theorists’ sense that cosmological mysteries signal a new era of physics. The impulse to explain dark matter and dark energy as signatures of a deeper reality, rather than a bolt-on to current theories, arises not only in string theory but also in alternatives such as loop quantum gravity and causal set theory. And if Verlinde is wrong and spacetime really is a root-level feature of our world, what other intuition will have to give way? What other thing that we thought we knew for sure is wrong?


TOPICS: Astronomy; Science
KEYWORDS: dark; deep; matter; reality; stringtheory
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1 posted on 06/13/2012 11:12:05 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

Good question..........


2 posted on 06/13/2012 11:14:56 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: LibWhacker

My head hurts.


3 posted on 06/13/2012 11:20:48 AM PDT by beethovenfan (If Islam is the solution, the "problem" must be freedom.)
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To: LibWhacker

The argument can be (and is being) made that gravity does not pull. It pushes. Problem is, to push it depends on some sort of as-yet undetected “ether”. But it solves some of the paradoxes, like light slowing down in water and then speeding back up when it exits it.


4 posted on 06/13/2012 11:27:25 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: beethovenfan

That’s good! It means you’re smart. :-)

I could tell my cat about this and it wouldn’t hurt his head. Dumb cat.


5 posted on 06/13/2012 11:29:46 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

My cat is heavy into string theory.


6 posted on 06/13/2012 11:29:50 AM PDT by BipolarBob
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To: LibWhacker
... duh!
7 posted on 06/13/2012 11:30:00 AM PDT by evets (beer)
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To: LibWhacker
Yes, I Live In A Deeper Level of Reality!


8 posted on 06/13/2012 11:31:16 AM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: beethovenfan

My head hurts.

My eyes also. I think they must be paid by the word. creative writing has gone too far and must be stopped.


9 posted on 06/13/2012 11:33:06 AM PDT by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
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To: LibWhacker
Well that explains everything.

Now, why do people park in driveways and drive on parkways?
10 posted on 06/13/2012 11:34:20 AM PDT by davius (You can roll manure in powdered sugar but that don't make it a jelly doughnut.)
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To: LibWhacker

bookmark


11 posted on 06/13/2012 11:36:15 AM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: LibWhacker
What secularists do not want to accept, is the fact that the thing they call dark matter, is Christ. I have learned a few years ago that one scientists admits you need to have faith that it exists even though they have no evidence it does.


This was posted on Space.com in September 2007.


Scientists: Dark matter exists

(SPACE.com)
New observations of a great big cosmic collision provide the best evidence yet that invisible and mysterious dark matter really does exist.
The collision, between two huge clusters of galaxies, is the "most energetic cosmic event, besides the Big Bang, that we know about," said Maxim Markevitch of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The impact split normal matter and dark matter apart, rendering the dark matter's gravitational presence observable.

Scientists announced the discovery today in a teleconference with reporters.
The normal matter in the cosmos -- atoms that make up stars, planets, air and life -- accounts for only a small fraction of what must exist, based on the fact that without an additional source of gravity, galaxies would fly apart and galaxy clusters could not hold together as they do.
Nobody knows where all that gravity comes from, so scientists say there must be some invisible stuff out there, which they call dark matter. Its presence is indirectly supported by many observations. Given what's known, this is the makeup of the universe:
5 percent normal matter
25 percent dark matter
70 percent dark energy

Dark energy is an even more mysterious phenomenon, a force of some sort that beats out gravity and is causing the universe to expand at an ever-faster pace.
Some theorists have suggested that rather than invoking dark matter, perhaps existing ideas about gravity might be wrong. Maybe gravity is stronger on intergalactic scales than what is predicted by Newton and Einstein.
And all astronomers agree that dark matter is such an exotic idea as to border on the crazy. "A universe that's dominated by dark stuff seems preposterous, so we wanted to test whether there were any basic flaws in our thinking," said Doug Clowe of the University of Arizona at Tucson, and leader of the study. "These results are direct proof that dark matter exists."


Splitting matter
Clowe and colleagues used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the galaxy cluster 1E0657-556, which contains a bullet-shaped cloud of superheated gas. X-rays show the shape was produced by cosmic winds created in a high-speed collision of two clusters of galaxies.
Other telescopes were used to locate and quantify the mass in the clusters. They actually measured the effect of gravitational lensing, in which gravity from the clusters distorts light from thousands of background galaxies, as predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity.
The dark matter is not seen, but its gravity has a predictable effect on the observations. The resulting blue color in a new image represents the gravity fields observed by noting how the light from each background galaxy is distorted. Here's what the image reveals:
The hot gas -- normal matter -- was slowed by a drag force described as the cosmic equivalent of air resistance. But the dark matter was not slowed by this effect, presumably because it does not interact with normal matter, as theory had predicted.
So the normal matter and dark matter became separated.
"This proves in a simple and direct way that dark matter exists." Markevitch said in the teleconference.


Other theories must cope
The finding provides further evidence that standard Newtonian gravity, which keeps planets in orbit around the sun, is the glue that makes things stick on the largest scales, too.
It is still possible there is some modification of gravity going on, but these findings make it less necessary to have such theories, said Sean Carroll, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago who was not involved with the study. "No matter what you do [in devising new theories] you're going to have to believe in dark matter."
"We've closed this loophole about gravity, and we've come closer than ever to seeing this invisible matter,"
Clowe said. "This is the first time we've had a direct detection of dark matter" in which you can't explain the results with any altered-gravity theory, he said.
The findings will be detailed in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4 (NKJV)

Scientists say dark matter is the cosmic glue that holds things together, well that is a secularists way of describing christ, they are just too ignorant to accept the truth.

Christ is who keeps us all from becoming cosmic dust. Without Christ to hold us together, we would be gone. He is the same thing they call dark matter.
12 posted on 06/13/2012 11:36:34 AM PDT by OneVike (I'm just a Christian waiting to go home)
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To: beethovenfan

We’re all just living in one form of our universe a multiverse.

Michael Crichton said so in Timeline.

Much easier to understand when written as fiction.


13 posted on 06/13/2012 11:36:45 AM PDT by 3rdcoastislander
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To: cuban leaf
gravity does not pull. It pushes.

They why are gravity wells like dimples in the fabric of space time? Or maybe they aren't?

14 posted on 06/13/2012 11:37:42 AM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: beethovenfan

We’re not even close to understanding the nature of our existence. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.


15 posted on 06/13/2012 11:38:39 AM PDT by Noumenon (If people saw socialists for what they truly are, slaughter would ensue - in self-defense.)
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To: BipolarBob

“My cat is heavy into string theory.”

Hopefully it wasn’t the cat you found in the box behind Schrodinger’s house.


16 posted on 06/13/2012 11:38:48 AM PDT by Cyman
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To: LibWhacker

In other words:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


17 posted on 06/13/2012 11:39:09 AM PDT by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: evets

Damn Irregal Aryans!
18 posted on 06/13/2012 11:40:45 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

Most of this is over my head, except the string theory. My theory is if you see a loose string on your cargo shorts .... don’t pull it because if you do your pants might fall off.


19 posted on 06/13/2012 11:45:21 AM PDT by layman (Card Carrying Infidel)
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To: LibWhacker

me not understand


20 posted on 06/13/2012 11:45:21 AM PDT by MNDude ( Victimhood is the Holy Grail of liberalism)
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To: LibWhacker
What other thing that we thought we knew for sure is wrong?

Well, since the world ain't flat, there's probably a whole lot more to be discovered.

21 posted on 06/13/2012 11:48:22 AM PDT by OldNavyVet
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To: OneVike
I have learned a few years ago that one scientists admits you need to have faith that it exists even though they have no evidence it does.

For my money, Dark Matter is a label for a mathematical construct that theoretical physicists must use to make all their other equations work out. That way they do not have to admit they are wrong about anything.

"Well, it's the Dark Matter you see. We have no evidence it exists but we know it's there. Our equations say so."

22 posted on 06/13/2012 11:50:05 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (My dog, yes. My wife, maybe. My gun....NEVER!)
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To: LibWhacker

At a time when “queer” still meant strange, JBS Haldane In the 1920’s observed,

“I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”


23 posted on 06/13/2012 11:50:59 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (I like Obamacare because Granny signed the will and I need the cash)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts
"Well, it's the Dark Matter you see. We have no evidence it exists but we know it's there. Our equations say so."

You are right, they cannot admit He exists, so they make up reasons to explain that which they cannot understand.

Remember, many of these individuals have been educated beyond their intelligence.
24 posted on 06/13/2012 11:53:50 AM PDT by OneVike (I'm just a Christian waiting to go home)
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To: LibWhacker

Nice. I wish I understood what he was trying to say better. How it be tested? Better yet, how can it be exploited?


25 posted on 06/13/2012 11:55:43 AM PDT by Little Ray (FOR the best Conservative in the Primary; AGAINST Obama in the General.)
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To: MNDude
me not understand

Mean Tonto not need peyote see Happy Hunting Grounds. ;-)

26 posted on 06/13/2012 11:58:04 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: muir_redwoods

Does this mean that Dark Energy is comprised of 800 lb Ninja Gorillas


27 posted on 06/13/2012 11:58:31 AM PDT by GreenOgre (mohammed is the false prophet of a false god.)
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To: cuban leaf
Problem is, to push it depends on some sort of as-yet undetected “ether”.

I don't know.

It seems electromagnet force does, but not gravity, for its effect is not affected by the accumulation of itself... :)

28 posted on 06/13/2012 12:00:58 PM PDT by Errant
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To: LibWhacker
Our space/time reality floating around on and the results of a more basic reality with not necessarily the same laws of physics..........I could go for that.
29 posted on 06/13/2012 12:17:44 PM PDT by The Cajun (Sarah Palin, Mark Levin......Nuff said.)
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To: LibWhacker

Ping for later...


30 posted on 06/13/2012 12:32:49 PM PDT by BrandtMichaels
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To: Cyman
Hopefully it wasn’t the cat you found in the box behind Schrodinger’s house.

No, but it was a dead ringer.

31 posted on 06/13/2012 12:32:56 PM PDT by BipolarBob
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To: OneVike
Scientists say dark matter is the cosmic glue that holds things together, well that is a secularists way of describing christ, they are just too ignorant to accept the truth.

I completely agree that it is Christ who holds all things together as the author of Hebrews clearly points out. I do NOT agree that dark matter = Christ. That would, in my opinion, confuse the identity of the Lord of the universe with part of the created universe. A position that is, shall we say, strongly advised agains in Romans 1:25. It opens the door to pantheism.

32 posted on 06/13/2012 12:37:00 PM PDT by newheart (At what point does policy become treason?)
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To: LibWhacker
MOND manages to account for a wide range of anomalous galactic motions with one simple formula.

Worth repeating.

If it is simple, and there are no demonstrable counterexamples, then we may presume it is correct.

33 posted on 06/13/2012 12:41:11 PM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com)
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To: LibWhacker

That’s deep, man


34 posted on 06/13/2012 12:44:21 PM PDT by Retired Greyhound (.)
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Some of what we know is mind boggling. What we don’t know is incomprehensible.


35 posted on 06/13/2012 12:47:13 PM PDT by 762X51
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To: OneVike
Christ is who keeps us all from becoming cosmic dust. Without Christ to hold us together, we would be gone. He is the same thing they call dark matter.

The law of attraction. The force that causes cells to unite for the common good. The force that causes floating particulates in a confined liquid weightless environment to form clumps (this was a discovery by a scientist aboard the space station, who merely was curious about what would happen if...?).

The force of gravity is the force of attraction.

Love creates attraction. God is LOVE. Jesus was conveying the word 'love' and the principals of it's workings, to man.

Regardless to how we 'imagine' it, or express it, we know about as much about love as we do about gravity.

One day, we will probably wonder why robots, left in the dark, huddle together.


36 posted on 06/13/2012 12:54:00 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: LibWhacker

I firmly believe that when my soul is released from this earth that God will make all things known. While I may have the potential for massive amounts of knowledge, my psyche cannot handle it. I would go crazy if God allowed me to know everthing that is knowable in the universe. Some insanity is just a glimpse to what can be known after I pass on. Sometimes you just have to step back from the edge.


37 posted on 06/13/2012 12:56:27 PM PDT by wxgesr (I want to be the first person to surf on another planet.)
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To: BenLurkin

—They why are gravity wells like dimples in the fabric of space time? Or maybe they aren’t?—

I’m no expert on the subject but there is actully a lot of interesting information on the web. Here is one: http://www.amazon.com/Pushing-Gravity-Perspectives-Theory-Gravitation/dp/0968368972


38 posted on 06/13/2012 12:57:01 PM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: LibWhacker

Dark matter.... matter with no photons?


39 posted on 06/13/2012 12:59:03 PM PDT by baddog 219
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To: Noumenon

—We’re not even close to understanding the nature of our existence. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.—

At least we’ve discovered that the more we know, the more we know we don’t know. Evolution was so simple and made a lot of sense in some ways. Then we discovered DNA. Then we discovered how it works. Then we discovered ways in which parts can be used differently by some cells than in others.

Suddenly the simplest cell seems complex beyond human understanding - still.


40 posted on 06/13/2012 1:01:47 PM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: LibWhacker

Sheldon Cooper disproved this theory in 1998.


41 posted on 06/13/2012 1:02:18 PM PDT by Doc Savage ("I've shot people I like a lot more,...for a lot less!" Raylan Givins)
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To: Errant

Funny you should mention EM force...

http://www.amazon.com/Pushing-Gravity-Perspectives-Theory-Gravitation/dp/0968368972


42 posted on 06/13/2012 1:07:49 PM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: evets

I’m waiting for someone to explain that guy’s hair.


43 posted on 06/13/2012 1:10:42 PM PDT by MWestMom (The heart of the wise inclines to the right, But the heart of the fool to the left. Ecclesiastes10:2)
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To: davius
Now, why do people park in driveways and drive on parkways?

Why do you only use your emergency brake when the car is not running, and safely parked ?

44 posted on 06/13/2012 1:12:18 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: davius

uno mas.

Why , when you ask someone how FAR away something is, they tell you how long it takes to get there?


45 posted on 06/13/2012 1:14:20 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: 3rdcoastislander
Michael Crichton said so in Timeline.

He wrote that book? Dang, I must be in the wrong timeline.

See Ya ( maybe ).

46 posted on 06/13/2012 1:18:45 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: beethovenfan
My head hurts.

I can fix that, if you'll just look here...


47 posted on 06/13/2012 1:21:35 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: davius
for the same reason that time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana
48 posted on 06/13/2012 1:24:28 PM PDT by from occupied ga (Your government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: davius
for the same reason that time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana
49 posted on 06/13/2012 1:24:49 PM PDT by from occupied ga (Your government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: LibWhacker
Silly me. I thought this was already answered.


50 posted on 06/13/2012 1:25:08 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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