Scientists in Japan recently answered the long standing question: where is all the dark matter in the universe? Using large-scale computer simulations and gravitational observations they were able to calculate how dark matter is distributed throughout space. Constituting 83 percent of the matter in the universe, dark matter’s existence is inferred from observing gravitational lensing on background radiation and gravitational effects on visible matter. Which means that although we cannot see dark matter, we can observe the results of its energy and surmise that it accounts for discrepancies in calculating the mass of galaxies, galaxy clusters, stars; all the mass of visible objects in the universe. Ordinary matter, visible matter, makes up only 17 percent of the mass in the universe.
When we think of space we think cold, empty, lifeless. The new research tells us that there is no empty space in the universe. Previously immeasurable, invisible and hypothetical, the Japanese physicists solved a long standing mystery. Although we still know more about what dark matter is not, rather than what it is, we are one small step closer to understanding the unseen forces working all around us.
Curiosity is Mystery’s nosy bedfellow. Our innate curiosity drives us to tinker with the riddles of the unknown, we are driven to pull the world apart to see how it works and then put it back together in a way that suits us better. We need to take apart engines, delve into dark canyons, dissect hearts, rip up and remake the earth. So much of what we experience is inexplicable and we long for the factual. Mystery drives us mad with questions: Does she love me, what happens when we die, will anyone remember me, what should I do, what is the meaning of my brief breathing time?
Like dark matter, sometimes the space between the words holds more weight than the words themselves. What is unsaid in a poem is deliberate, as important as what is written. In fiction, what we don’t know keeps us reading to the end of the story. Mystery lures us, Curiosity follows its tantalizing shadow. While the poets and writers in this issue all speak with very different voices, they are all searching for their own answers to the unknown.
Our next issue will be published in June 2012 with the theme of 'Persuasion'. If you are interested in contributing, please see our submissions guidelines. You can keep informed of all of our deadlines, publication dates, and other news by visiting our Facebook page, which is located here.
Roxanna Bennett is an editor at Halfway Down the Stairs. For staff biographies, click here.
© 2012, Roxanna Bennett
© 2012, Roxanna Bennett