Dark Matter and the Origin of Life (Synopsis)

When you think of the origin of life, you probably think about the atoms coming together to make molecules, the molecules coming together to make self-replicating, information-encoded strands, and how all that took place here on Earth. But you might want to consider a different point of view!

A cosmological simulation of dark matter growing clumpier over time. Image credit: Andrey Kravtsov

A cosmological simulation of dark matter growing clumpier over time. Image credit: Andrey Kravtsov

Instead, try thinking about the fact that, to make those complex atoms, and to recycle them into new generations of stars, we needed a lot of generations of stars to live, die, expel that processed matter back into the interstellar medium, and to have it incorporated into future generations of systems. Simply having the primordial ingredients wouldn’t give rise to life at all!

The original primordial soup was pretty bland. Modified from an image taken from http://www.mbio.ncsu.edu/jwb/soup.html

The original primordial soup was pretty bland. Modified from an image taken from http://www.mbio.ncsu.edu/jwb/soup.html

Go read the whole, fascinating story, courtesy of James Bullock!

Comments

  1. #1 Ragtag Media
    November 25, 2014

    You said this:
    ” Dark matter is doomed to lose its cosmic arm wrestling match in a big way. When the Universe is a few times its current age, virtually all new galaxy formation will cease.

    Because of dark energy’s inevitable triumph, our Universe is approaching a pinnacle in complexity. At some point in the future, fresh fuel for star formation will stop falling into galaxies and no new stars will be able to form.”

    However, back in 2012 You said:

    “Although we might be approaching the peak of star density within our galaxy, we can very strongly say that the vast majority of stars that will ever call our galaxy home haven’t been born yet.
    We won’t live long enough to see them, either, as many trillions of years into the future is far too ambitious to count on, even for those of you counting on the singularity. ”
    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/11/07/every-galaxy-will-have-new-stars-for-trillions-of-years/

    Can you clarify what I am missing here with this race between the two dark forces?
    Thanks

  2. #2 Perry Ismangil
    November 25, 2014

    So dark matter was born together with normal matter, at Big Bang?

  3. #3 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    November 26, 2014

    @Perry Ismangil #2: Yes. *IF* dark matter follows the rules of quantum field theory, in the same way normal matter does. It would (must!) have been produced as particle-antiparticle pairs from the energy density early in the hot big bang.

    That same requirement means that we “should” be able to produce dark matter pairs in our high energy colliders, provided we have enough energy to do so. The fact that we haven’t seen anything yet leaves us with three possibilities:

    — the DM particle is too massive (basically, more than half the energy of our biggest collider) or too light (we don’t see it in our collisions because the missing energy looks just like neutrinos);
    — DM is _not_ in the form of particles which obey quantum mechanics (but then what is it?);
    — there isn’t any DM (but then you have an awful lot of cosmological observations to explain in some other fully consistent way).

    It’s primarily because QFT is such an astoundingly general theory — the math and logic don’t depend on any of the particulars of the specific particles we know about — that we assume that DM falls under its rubric. Dropping that assumption, in many ways, makes the problem scientifically “impossible” to solve, and hence “uninteresting” in Peter Medawar’s sense.

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