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All right. Wednesdays it is then.  Wednesdays is blogging day, usually mid evening, but by midnight (in UKland) at the latest.  That’s when to sit all agog like some watcher of the skies and all that.  So here we go, early today, ‘cos I’m busy administering a short story completishun.

And this is the first in my Science and Nature category.

Puce Matter

I’ve just come up with a cosmological theory. I call it ‘puce matter’.

I was thinking how most cosmology (and thus physics) today is predicated on the ‘discovery’ that distant stars seem redder than they ought, and the concomitant theory that they are moving away rapidly. From this we see that the further away stars are, the more rapidly they recede. From this we deduce that the universe is expanding, obviously starting with Big Bangs (which need fudging with inflation). Then this leads to the idea that the movements only make sense if there is something we can’t see providing tons of gravity and much of the calculated ‘mass’ of the universe.

But what if the original premise is flawed? It occurred to me that things can appear redder for two main reasons: (1) they are moving rapidly away from the observer (this means us), introducing the ‘red shift’, due to the Doppler effect — or (2) they are fucking redder.

A bit like Dougal Maguire’s cows … “those post boxes are flying away from you – but these post boxes are red“.

It has to be said that the first option seems the most likely, not least because if it was down to actual colour, the observation would change as our relative positions change, as we hurtle through the universe.  But what if they are smaller, closer (and redder) than we give them credit for? All the other measurements, and the need for dark matter, might have to be questioned.

Then I thought of a third reason… (3) there’s a red filter in the way. Which I, because of an inordinate attachment to the comedic value of the sound of the word, prefer to call ‘puce’ matter.

What if space is filed with a reddish medium, not as massive as dark matter is postulated to be, but effective in terms of mass, gravity and colour, causing all the assumptions on which measurements are based to need radical adjustment? The further away a star is, the more of this red filter (particles which absorb the rest of the spectrum) will be between us and it, causing a huge distortion in what we mistakenly call the red shift.

Before Mr Einstein came up with a totally different way of thinking about time and space, scientists spent ages searching for evidence of ‘the ether’, an undefined substance which permeated the universe and caused all the mismatches between Newtonian physics and actual measurements of the speed of light, the motions of the planets and so forth. Maybe dark matter is the new ether; more and more money is spent on more and more subterranean labs to find something that can’t be detected because we is looking in the wrong part of the spectrum.

Maybe that ether is there after all — but it’s not dark, it’s puce.

Next time: Where do electrons go? The ‘behind the bike sheds’ model of quantum physics.  And Is God frying chips? — an explanation for the background hiss.



[As some folks on the web do tend to take all sorts of shit seriously, I would like to point out that all the above is what is scientifically referred to as ‘total bollocks’, just for a larff. On the other hand, if it does lead a new Einstein to cracking the whole thing open, please send Nobel Prizes to me, care of the Scottish Arts Club]