A Harvard physics professor connects dark matter to the dinosaurs

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Lisa Randall, a Harvard physics professor, said there could be a possible connection between the existence of dark matter and the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Before you dismiss that theory, there are many crazy beliefs out there. For one, the belief of ancient astronomers that the planets and Sun revolved around the Earth. Randall’s theory is a bit more of a stretch. It involves an acceptance that there may be parts of the universe we cannot see, but exist. Lisa Randall compared dark matter’s role in space to bridges and buildings in society.

She said, “It is kind of like the unsung masses in society.”

Dark matter makes up about 26 percent of the universe, but Randall argues that it is vitally important for holding the universe together.

Atoms (5 percent of the universe), the particles we can observe and that make up life, would never be stable enough to hold a galaxy together. They have a radioactivity that makes them stable enough to interact with one another. But, their constant need to move would not allow the forming of stars and other celestial bodies without the assistance of dark matter.

While the remaining 69 percent of the universe is made up of dark energy, dark matter is the most significant piece of the puzzle.

“Dark matter is all around us,” Randall said.

Her theory proposes that there is a halo around the galaxy made up of dark matter, which has the ability to create disks that trigger cosmic events. Dark matter does not interact with light, but has been observed interacting with gravity much like atoms.

However, Randall’s theory is that dark matter has the ability to react with itself. These interactions trigger the formation of disks which can dislodge certain celestial bodies like asteroids and create comets.

The meteors that are created don’t come from the Asteroid Belt or even the more distant Kuiper Belt, but from something called the Oort cloud. This cloud is similar to other asteroid belts. Though, because of its placement in the Milky Way galaxy, any small amount of gravity can knock an asteroid loose and form a comet or meteor.

Dark matter also has the ability to influence the motion of stars and planets because of its reactions with gravity. Therefore, Randall argues the Earth is on a slow oscillation pattern. At the points where it crosses this dark matter disk in the galaxy, enough gravitational force is created which dislodges an asteroid from the Oort cloud.

This cycle is predicted to trigger such an event every 30-35 million years, which means that the meteor that hit the Earth and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago could be connected.

If Randall is correct about these major impacts occurring periodically, dark matter could be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

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