November 27, 2008

From Charles Douglas Wehner:

Re: Signs of dark matter found? (Nov. 19): I regret to say that an expression in this report is just plain wrong.

The report says “Be­cause, as Ein­stein showed, mat­ter and en­er­gy are ul­ti­mately equiv­a­lent, dark mat­ter would al­so be a part of the en­er­gy in the uni­verse”.

Einstein did not show this.

The famous equation linking E to M and to C-squared does not make energy and matter equivalent. E is energy. M is MASS, not matter - it is a physics variable, not chemistry.

Before Einstein, it was believed that mass was only a property of matter (material). In the “magic year” 1904 to 1905, Einstein explored the idea of Max Planck’s concept of the quantum(of magnetic energy). A Quantum is the smallest amount of magnetic energy, such as the smallest amount of visible light.

At the quantum level, the light can either bounce or be absorbed. There are no other options. If it bounces, it returns from the “mirror” at the same frequency as it had when it arrived. Therefore, it return with the same energy as it had when it arrived. It bounces as if it had no mass (weight).

At the quantum level, if it is absorbed it is no longer magnetic energy. Light that is absorbed vanishes. However, when light is absorbed into a body, it sets that body into motion. This is the behaviour of something that does indeed have mass (weight). The equation says how much mass this would be.

So after Einstein, we understand that matter has mass and also that energy under the right conditions has mass.

If matter turned into energy, or vice-versa, it would violate two fundamental laws of physics - the Law of Conservation of Matter and also the Law of the Conservation of Energy. Matter cannot be created or destroyed. Energy cannot be created or destroyed.

Einstein’s physics is mainstream physics. He did not violate these laws.

As for dark matter, I have my own views of a possible explanation of what it is. I have published this on my website, but that is a different matter, although related. If energy has mass, as Einstein showed, the unexplained mass in the Universe may not be the mass of as yet to be discovered matter. It might be the mass of undiscovered energy.

That is the crux.

Charles Douglas Wehner


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