Dark Matter in the Universe; Magnificent Cosmos; Scientific American Presents; by Rubin; 5 Page(s)
Imagine, for a moment, that one night you awaken abruptly from a dream. Coming to consciousness, blinking your eyes against the blackness, you find that, inexplicably, you are standing alone in a vast, pitch-black cavern. Befuddled by this predicament, you wonder: Where am I? What is this space? What are its dimensions?
Groping in the darkness, you stumble upon a book of damp matches. You strike one; it quickly flares, then fizzles out. Again, you try; again, a flash and fizzle. But in that moment, you realize that you can glimpse a bit of your surroundings. The next match strike lets you sense faint walls far away. Another flare reveals a strange shadow, suggesting the presence of a big object. Yet another suggests you are moving-or, instead, the room is moving relative to you. With each momentary flare, a bit more is learned.