Cosmic Queries: Dark Matter and Dark Energy

Post Date: 4 August 2013

Listen now:

Season 4, Episode 22

Dark Matter Visualization courtesy of SDSC and NPACI Visualization Services.

Dark Matter Visualization courtesy of SDSC and NPACI Visualization Services.

If dark matter is the longest unsolved problem in astrophysics, how can Neil deGrasse Tyson answer your Cosmic Queries? It turns out we do know something about the stuff that makes up 96% of our universe. For instance, how it affects the rotation of galaxies, and what would happen if it disappeared. And whether the amount of dark matter is increasing as the universe expands. You’ll find out if there are connections between black holes and dark matter and what Hawking Radiation is. You’ll learn who discovered dark matter, and how, and if recent experiments on the ISS provided explanations of why dark matter doesn’t interact with ordinary matter. There’s even a question from an 8th Grade science class in California about how we could contain an amount of dark matter to study it in its purest form. Plus, Neil tells comic co-host Leighann Lord why he thinks dark energy should be named Fred.

Leighann Lord, comedian


“4 Percent of Something” – 10cc
“Astro” – Neil Finn
“Light Up the Dark (Dark Matter Mix)” – The Washington Projects
“Escape Pod for Intangibles” – Hopesfall
“Dark Matter” – Brown & Gammon (Doctor P & Mizuki Remix)
“The Gravity & the Glue” – Ghostwolf
“Dark Matter” – Afrika Bambaataa, featuring King Kamonzi
“Dark Matter” – Sofia Echegaray
“In the Dark” – DEV

  • Christina Vonthronsohnhaus

    Good one love this program!

  • Andrew Cooke

    Isn’t ISS an initialism? Not an abbreviation?

  • Cane Kostovski

    If dark matter permeates everything, then I could remove some of it from my waist and lose that stubborn last $20 lbs. I’ve been trying to get rid of?

  • Heisenberg

    Is there any possibility that the dark matter we’re looking for today is the new “Vulcan”?

    The hypothesized in 1859 planet Vulcan (orbiting between Mercury and the Sun) was supposed to explain the observed irregularities in the orbit of Mercury. The planet was never found, and the strange behavior of Mercury later correctly attributed to its close proximity to the Sun’s huge gravitational field. It turned out that in the case of Mercury, Newtonian physics, which is normally adequate to describe planetary orbits, doesn’t work, and it takes Einstein’s general relativity to fully describe the oddity of Mercury’s behavior.

    I’m just wondering how sure we are that our current state-of-the-art theories are perfect in describing the behavior of gravitational fields and planets on a galactic and inter-galactic scale.

  • Linda Berdeaux

    WONDERFUL program……….and we all could listen to the words “after dark” and “after hours” over and over….there’s “something” thrilling about it.. in the middle of a scientific discussion. Also love the interaction between NDT and LL. And of course very informative and interesting. Always fascinated by dark matter discussions.

  • Win Wengefrin Wenger, Ph.D.

    There is some indication that the planets and solar systems formed, not initially because of gravity but from electrostatic clumping. Solar wind effects from an unstable newly-formed sun could have provided the ionization for the accretion disc to so clump. Today, when paticles or rocks or dust collide, things scatter, so how did the initial clumps form in the first place which eventually became large enough o attract by gravity and sheer mass, if not by electrostatic clumping. Point of this question, in relation to your session on darfk matter and dark energy, is (1) whether electromagnetic clumping is part of how galaxies also formed, and (2) whether there’s enough such clumping still going on throough electrostaics that this could have an effect on the orbits from which are calculated how much dark matter is around? CThe filament structure of the intergalactic universe seems to indicate something like electrostatic vclumping is still going on. My apologies if my question is foolishly overlookin something very basic an obvious.

  • Heisenberg

    One more question: If dark energy causes galaxies to repel each other, why are Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies on a collision course?

  • James Brown

    I love hearing about dark matter, but this co-host is hopeless! how about we get someone in to co-host who doesnt need to interrupt every answer.
    Also, if she were to keep her mouth shut during answers, we would hear at least double the information regarding dark matter/energy which, lets face it, is why we are listening to this program!

  • david lasso

    so dark matter is not real matter, then how are we exactly sure that the attracting force is of gravitational nature?

  • Nathaniel McCormick

    Hello, I think I know how to get electricity from anywhere, anytime, I have built an ‘antennae’ that uses the schumann resonance or an octave of it, to produce wireless electricity. All you need is a coil tuned to the right frequency, a diode, and two capacitors. I am getting a quarter of a volt from the earth’s vibration using small caps. I believe with bigger caps, we could power everything. Including, spacecraft. We could tune into the waves in space and induct the current, through the diode, into the caps, yielding..well you probably get it. Hope, you are interested. I am scared to come out publicly with this information. For reasons, bordering, conspiracy theories..

    • Jeff

      Nathaniel, I hope by approving your comment we haven’t “outed” your theory!

  • Alex Scott

    If two black holes collide will it create a short wave GRB.

  • Kyle Easter

    Hey, I really enjoyed listening to you answering these questions! I’m a listener in Scotland and work in IT but my heart truly lies with science and the cosmos. Thanks for the wonderful podcast.

    • Jeff

      Our pleasure, Kyle.

  • Ian Witt

    Holy cow, a Hopesfall song! This show just got way, way cooler.

  • Mat Sympsun

    Is it possible for gravitational effects to be felt through time? If time is seen as a fourth spacial dimension, where all objects in universe are four dimensional and ever present in their 4D form, then couldn’t some of the unaccounted gravity be coming from events in the future? And if there’s a singularity-like event at the end of universe , with more gravity than anything we’ve observed, then could that be having an effect rippling “back in time”?

  • Cole Ambrosi

    I was the one who suggested the first question to my teacher, Mr. DiLemme. Originally we had posted it five minutes after noon, which was when y’all stopped taking questions, but we still had our hopes up, and here it is!

    • Jeff

      Our secret is out, Cole. We’re suckers for great questions… even ones that come in a few minutes late.

  • Eric Harrison

    Thanks! I really enjoyed this episode. Dark matter and dark energy are at the top of my list when it comes to curiosity regarding the universe, (besides a TOA).

  • Asko

    Is there a possibility that Dark Matter/Energy mystery is just a mistake in the calculations? Could it be that due to our lack of understanding of how the universe works; how exactly gravity works or something else that has been overlooked we invented dark matter and energy just to patch up the gaps in our knowledge?

  • Del

    Enlightening and Entertaining! Great show. Thanks, Neil…and thank you for introducing me to Leighann Lord. Watching her videos online right now. :-)
    P.S. Can’t wait till “Cosmos”!

  • Jason Trimble

    From Mechanicsburg,Pennsylvania
    If the expansion of the universe is accelerating, what point is it accelerating from, and what object or type of existence is the universe expanding towards? Also, what force could be pulling on the universe to make it accelerate? Gravity doesn’t seem relevant in this situation.

  • alan

    I recently re-discovered the Schwartzchild radius formula (2Gm/c^2). Plugging in some estimates for the mass of the visible universe, you get numbers approaching 10 billion light years. However, those mass estimates don’t appear to include dark matter or dark energy. Do those mean that the universe is a black hole in and of itself?

  • Orestis Pavlou

    Really nice show guys.
    I would love more shows with this theme, as i’m about to start writing my dissertation on the “Experimental evidence on the accelerating expansion of the Universe”, and any new information on Dark Energy really help!

    Currently really excited on the new results from the ongoing mission of the Planck spacecraft!

  • Stuart

    Dark matter and Dark energy are manifestations of quantum gravity. A paper on this will be published on 31 august 2013 visit for a free download

  • RST5851

    Dark matter IS the fabric of space:
    At some point in time pure energy is injected into the universe, science refers to this as The Big Bang, to give readers an easy understanding of what happens I will use condensing of gases to give you a batter image of what Dark matter is and what it is doing to energy to form matter, energy is condensed by dark matter/gravity, this crushes protons and neutrons together, as they are forced together, electrons form a field around the nucleus of the atom, atoms combine to form matter, imagine gases being condensed to form a liquid, this same type of process is taking place to form matter from energy as dark matter condenses it .
    In the beginning either energy was forced into the universe which was filled with dark matter or the universe began as pure energy and dark matter enveloped the energy compressing it into matter.
    Dark matter seems to remain constant not increasing or decreasing in mass while energy continues to be injected into the universe which creates gravity waves, these gravity waves are created as energy is forced into the universe, you can imagine a supernova actually being this process in action and not created by imploding stars, as energy increases within the condensing process reducing the size of atoms, we are literally being squeezed, I know some of you are thinking this could be measured but not as you may think due to everything being relative, as atoms are reduced in size all matter is also reduced/condensed, so let’s say the earth is reduced in size by this process as atoms are squeezed smaller and smaller your measuring equipment also becomes reduced in size, you would not notice it because (everything) has changed in size, the earth, moon and sun all reduce in size along with your ruler so everything is relative making measuring this only possible by the distance between stellar bodies.
    Measuring the process:
    Measure the atom being squeezed is only noticed as dark matter/space increases distances between stellar bodies, you will also notice the distance between the moon, earth and sun and other stellar bodies become further from one another and can be measured today.
    Gravity should increase and life would have to adapt to heavier gravity, even though everything is relative as the atom is squeezed I see life forms becoming smaller in the future comparative to the mass of the earth to compensate for the stronger gravity upon the atoms.

    The future of the universe:
    1. I theorize Energy will continue to fill the universe with dark matter condensing the atoms until it reaches a critical point wherein another big bang will occur tearing the fabric of space/dark matter, possibly expanding the universe, reducing the strength of gravity and the density of dark matter, this would reduce the gravity effect as pressure on the atom is reduced.

    • Brian

      Interesting. Is there a name for this interpretation of Dark Matter, or any more info on it in this light. Granted, I haven’t listened to this show yet, so maybe they talk about it in there. I’m going through and downloading several shows right now.

  • elf

    Tyson corrects his co-host around the 26 minute mark when she reads a question where the listener used the term “ISS”. She calls it an acronym, Tyson corrects her and tells her it’s an abbreviation….it’s neither, it’s an initialism. Not trying to be anal just correcting it for any of the young folks who might be listening.

  • the revelator

    dark matter is dispersed energy.when anything is smaller than an electron they separate an fill any space as we see it has tiny particule whizzing around constantly expanding their boundaries.

  • Norker

    Common modern usage for acronym certainly includes constructs such as ISS, only those who speak pedantese disagree. ISS is certainly closer in concept to an acronym than an abbreviation, which is a larger class and includes constructs such as Sept, Mr., ft-lb, and i18n.

  • victor victorious


  • gmvoeth

    Great Show, Can Dark Matter possibly be THE Ether that can not be found ?

  • William Main

    How come there is no download link for this show. I load them onto my phone and listen to them while driving.

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  • Michael T

    This is the only podcast I have come across that will not let me download. Is this on purpose or an accident? If it’s an accident, it would be great if it could be fixed. If it’s on purpose, I would certainly pay a buck or two to buy it somewhere, so I can listen to it on car trips where there might be no data connection. Thanks in advance!

    • startalkradio

      Hi Michael. It’s neither a mistake nor on purpose: of course we let you download our podcasts, and we encourage you to do so. Every podcast has a page on our website, with a SoundCloud player on it. In the upper right corner of that player, there is a downward facing arrow that is the symbol for downloading the file. Additionally, on the homepage, there is a large SoundCloud player that has all our podcasts. If you click on a podcast, it loads into the top of that player, and again has a download button. We also have an RSS feed (icon at top of every page) that you can access here: that allows you to download our podcasts. And of course, you can download them using iTunes.

      • Michael T

        Well, thanks for your prompt response, but there is definitely no download option like in all the other episodes. There is only a link that looks like a shopping cart. When clicking this link, it simply reopens the podcast in another window. So, sadly no download option.

        • startalkradio

          Sorry about that, Michael. I see what you mean. We’ll look into that about this episode. For now, if you go into the RSS feed, you can find the file and download it from there. I just checked, it’s there, and you can download it as an mp3 file. You can also download the file directly from SoundCloud here:

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