First there was dark matter, then came dark energy, then dark photons and now there is talk of dark stars, dark planets and even dark intelligent life, in a whole dark galaxy within our Milky Way galaxy.
In an article musing on such claims,1 where the van Gogh painting “Starry night” is highlighted, in the caption to the painting is written, “Perhaps he knew something about the nature of the universe that we are just beginning to understand.” As much as I like the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, I don’t think he knew or envisaged, in the swirls illustrated in his painting (Fig. 1), anything about invisible dark matter or a dark galaxy within ours. To suggest otherwise surely must be a joke, because physicists today know nothing about so-called dark matter and dark energy. It is called dark not because of what they don’t know, but because of what they do know.
This ludicrous situation has developed in astrophysics because of the initial assumption of materialism (matter and energy is all there is) and the dogmatic insistence that it must be rigorously applied to the origin and structure of this universe. As a result when physicists observe the rotation speeds of stars not only in our own galaxy but also in many thousands of other spiral galaxies they find that the stars in the spiral disks are moving too fast. They are moving so fast that in the assumed lifetimes of the galaxies, of order 10 billion years, the galaxies should have been eviscerated because their stars should have flown away from the galaxies, which could not hold onto them.
To fix this, the standard approach is to posit the existence, around every galaxy, of a spherical halo of dark matter (see Fig. 2), that has just the right density, distribution and gravitational properties to solve the conundrum but neither emits nor interacts with electromagnetic radiation. Because astrophysicists cannot explain these high rotational velocities with standard tried-and-tested Newtonian physics, they have concocted the notion that galaxies really comprise between 80% to 90% dark matter—stuff that is everywhere but we cannot see or detect it by any method.2 The article1 states that the majority of today’s physicists believe this. That may well be the case, but I don’t and I’m sure I qualify as a real physicist.3 In any event, truth is not determined by majority opinion.4