The Mother of Dark Matter
July 2, 2014 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Vera Rubin and Dark Matter Vera Rubin has been quoted as saying "Does Sex Matter? Of course it does. But does it matter enough to Matter? That's a different question." She is an astronomer and mother of four who successfully combined a serious career with raising a family. She is one of the discoverers of dark matter. posted by Michele in California (6 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

Her story got a nice block of time in last episode of the recent Cosmos re-make. (Apologies if I missed you already linking to this, MiC.)

Episode (Episode link may not last long)
posted by benito.strauss at 4:40 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

This is the best thing. Thank you MiC!
posted by pipoquinha at 4:41 PM on July 2

I got a chuckle out of the part of her Wikipedia article discussing the galaxy rotation problem. Her previous work around galactic clusters was considered controversial, so she switched her area of research to the rotational curve of galaxies, which she expected to be safer from controversy. Instead, she discovered the discrepancy that led to the theory of dark matter!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 4:44 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]

Great post, thanks Michele!
posted by Fibognocchi at 6:01 PM on July 2

Brilliant, am looking forward to all of the links, thank you
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:45 PM on July 2

Dark matter is fascinating. There's so much indirect evidence for it, such in galactic rotation curves (wikipedia also lists seven other types of observational evidence consistent with dark matter). But multiple terrestrial experiments that have been designed as direct detectors of dark matter give results consistent with the null hypothesis (no dark matter). And then there's the LHC: I don't think there's any hypothetical dark matter particle that is in the standard model, but the LHC steadfastly refuses to give us any experimental results that point at physics outside the SM.

It's enough to make you worry that DM is the epicycle of our time. Are we overlooking something, and the problem is not "missing" mass? (MOND goes some way to explaining galactic rotation curves, but not any of the other lines of DM evidence AFAIK) Or do we simply lack the technology for direct DM detection and the production of beyond-SM particles in the accelerator?

If I were making a short list of questions I'd like answered by a far-future physicist, the question of dark matter would be on the list.
posted by jepler at 4:49 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]

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