back to article Revealed at last: Universe's intergalactic dark matter skeleton

Higgs, Schmiggs... When that infinitesimal speck was sucking up all the journalistic oxygen on Independence Day, another momentous scientific discovery was also being announced: the first observation of filaments of dark matter, the stuff that forms the "skeleton" of our universe. Invisible, inexplicable dark matter makes up …


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  1. DJV Silver badge

    if you happened to be asleep that day in your astrophysics class

    Yes, I was! So please explain this in simple measurements I can understand such as standard London double decker bus or bronotosaurus lengths!

  2. DJV Silver badge


    Duh! Spel chekcer, wheer are yuo wen u are nedeed most?

    <-- that's a self fail!!!

  3. adnim


    to the sixteen this and ten to the thirteen that!

    What's that in hamsters?

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    2. Geoff Campbell

      Re: What's that in hamsters?

      Quite a few.


    3. D 13

      Re: Ten

      At least ten shitloads

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Coming Sooner ..... what IT's all about and how easily IT is fooled to server Virtual Machines*

    Is the Register ready, willing and able to handle the Truth ....... or not?

    * Are Virtual Machines, Alien Beings, and/or just Simply Complex Figments of Absolutely Fabulous Fabless Imagination ....... which would nothing less than a Holy Trinity Revelation? I suppose you would need a Proof to Believe IT is True. Ok, that's fair and reasonable. One wouldn't want everyone believing in a fiction of dodgy false facts which are sub-prime intelligence services designed to Present and Product Place Dishonest Bigger Pictures, would one?

    That would surely be a certifiable madness and confirmed badness if premeditated and deliberate, whenever the Truth is freely available at zeroday cost.

  6. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Noodly appendages

    The answer is simple and obvious - those dark filaments are the cooled hyper-pasta of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's noodly appendages!

    Thanks, my jacket and hat is the pirate one with the book on global warming in the pocket...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Noodly appendages

      No, no , no. It's obvious. Those are highways.

      1. frank ly

        Re: Noodly appendages

        They are waveguides for a tachyon based communication and transport system. (The little green people who live in my garden shed told me that.)

  7. Winkypop Silver badge

    Michele Bachman

    Now there's some really empty space.

  8. saundby

    I thought planets and politicians were dark matter. MACHOS, in the old naming of dark matter types. They're not exotic dark matter, but dark matter all the same.

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      1. Chris Miller


        Good answer. You're right that it no longer appears likely that dark matter can be accounted for by MACHOs. But there's a problem with the alternative of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), which is - where the hell are they? They haven't shown up at CERN, in cosmic rays or in neutrino detectors, which seems odd given that it's proposed that they make up the great majority of gravitating matter.

        The other possibility is that we don't understand gravitation as well as we think we do. A minority of cosmologists and physicists are working on Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MoND), which could account for the anomalous rotation of galaxies and the other problems for which dark matter is put forward as a solution.

        I had the opportunity of an informal discussion of these issues with a leading British astronomer and cosmologist at a conference in Oxford earlier this year. His answer was along the lines of: I'd give the experimentalists another few years to find evidence of dark matter, failing which the theoreticians will need to start looking seriously for alternative explanations.

        FWIW 'Dark energy' is even easier to explain away. It may well be that our understanding of type 1a supernovae and/or the transmission of their light across a substantial fraction of the observable universe is incomplete.

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          1. Chris Miller
            Thumb Up


            Thanks for taking the time to respond to my dilettante comments. I can spot a professional when I see one!

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          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Chris Miller, HFG

            "it's also worth noting that galaxies do not live in the Minkowski spacetime of special relativity."

            I shall drop that into casual conversation at the earliest opportunity.

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          3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            Re: @HolyFreakinGhost

            I'd put more money on a sterile neutrino (and the seesaw mechanism) than an LSP. Mind you, I was betting against the Higgs, so my record is poor.

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          4. Robert Ramsay

            Re: @Chris Miller

            What do you think of the idea that dark matter might be cumulative gravity spilling over from the branes that make up quantum parallel worlds?

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              1. Robert Ramsay

                Re: @Chris Miller

                Thank you! I'm intrigued to hear that the idea also helps with dark energy as well - I fully appreciate what you say about it being insanely complicated :-)

                The idea I am exploring is whether this artificial looking setup actually comes good if you consider each of the branes involved to be the "universes" in the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics. There is a paper by Page and Wootters ( where they show that it's possible for what we consider the past and the future to be special cases of those universes, and the limitations of our brains would mean that we perceive the world as a "flicker-book" of these branes.

                Also, the idea leads to a prediction - since the number of parallel worlds would be increasing all the time, dark matter (and I presume dark energy) should increase over time. I'm guessing it is possible to measure the dark matter from galaxies at different distances (i.e. times) from our own and see if there is any variation.

                Since, @HolyFreakinGhost you are one of the few people I've ever had contact with who knows about this stuff, I would be grateful for any more insights...

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                  1. Robert Ramsay

                    Re: @Chris Miller

                    This is excellent stuff. I suddenly realised I hadn't explained about the time part of it. The idea of the Page and Wootters paper is that the whole thing (all the many worlds) is "pre-existing" (if you can call it that) and the passage of time is an artefact of the way our brains work. Like when spacetime was discovered, people worried that if everything was this pre-existing block of 4D stuff, everything would be predetermined.

                    With many worlds, it becomes more like a railway shunting yard that we travel through, changing points when our choices decohere. The whole railway yard already exists, but we cannot see it all at once.

                    I've realised now that we would need to have a way of modelling this astoundingly complicated picture before working out whether we can prove or disprove it...

                    I can understand why our current picture would be fine with a constant amount of dark matter, so I shall be very interested to see the results from actual measurements from the projects you mention.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      Politicians aren't so much dark as dim

  9. Gareth Perch

    "The rest? There's dark matter and dark energy, but exactly what those dark enigmas are ... well, as Geoffrey Rush's Philip Henslowe was wont to say in Shakespeare in Love, "It's a mystery.""

    Did he say that in "Shakespeare in Love"? He certainly said it in "Shine" (1996).

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      @Gareth Perch

      I thought it was Toyah Wilcox?

  10. C. P. Cosgrove

    Higg's jokes

    I make no claim to being an astrophysicist of any sort - but jokes like that tagged on at the end could put me off 'El Reg' for life !

    Truly awful, funny though.

    Chris Cosgrove

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Higg's jokes

      Popbitch have asked for their joke back...

  11. ScissorHands


    You keep using that word... I don't think it means what you think it means.

    "Boffo is a kind of headology, described by Pratchett as "the power of expectations"; the strength one gains from behaving exactly as someone expects you to. Boffo is introduced by the witch Eumenides Treason in Wintersmith as a means by which she ensures people take her seriously.

    It gets its name from the Boffo Novelty and Joke Shop, no. 4, Tenth Egg Street, Ankh-Morpork, from which Miss Treason purchases most of her interior decorating supplies, the better to ensure that when people come calling they don't see what is really there (a tired, blind 111-year-old woman), but what they expect (a venerable, terrifying 113-year-old witch).

    The idea of Boffo is also understood by those forward-looking wizards who have to make a living in the community: the premises of C.V. Cheesewaller, DM(Unseen) B Thau, BF, in Quirm, are liberally festooned with hanging stuffed crocodiles, dribbly candles, skulls, and "the usual wizardly paraphernalia". Quoth the raven dismissively says "They get it all out of a catalogue. Believe me, it all comes in a big box". Any bets as to whose catalogue?

    As a concept, Boffo is hardly unique to the Discworld: Roundworld bling such as Rolex watches, Armani suits and the crowns of kings is all Boffo, only more expensive."

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Re: "Boffo"?


      How dare you refer to dribbly candles as boffo. A good de rigeur wizard's candle look requires a very skilled dribbler to achieve the required effect. Ask mr. Nutt.

    2. Smallbrainfield

      Re: "Boffo"?

      Douglas Adams used "boffo" as a term to describe something excellent in one of the Hitch Hikers books, way before Pratchett did.

      I think it's in a guide entry by Ford Prefect, but it's a long time since I read the books. I remember the word though.

      1. Lord Voldemortgage

        Re: "Boffo"?

        It's been used (albeit infrequently) for many decades to mean roughly "very good indeed"

        There's also a Wodehouse character called Boffo but I don't know if that has any direct relevance.

  12. Basil Short_Trousers


    Pah I spit on the ground with stupid incomprehensible megaparsecs.

    In perhaps just as incomprehensible units: 18 megaparsecs is 58.7 million light years. For comparison the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy is 'only' 0.77 megaparsecs (2.5 million light-years) from Earth.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We don't know


    There are many theories out there and many eventually turn out to be true, just like there are many which simply end up forgotten because most people hardly care to keep up with 'stuff from the past'.

    But when reading stories such as these I can't help wonder... What is the big problem with stating on certain topics that: "We don't know. Yet." ?

  14. Nanners

    If I can inject a serious question?

    For all you "professionals" out there on the reg. it's my understanding that the Higgs particle exists in a yet undiscovered Higgs field of sorts. Could it be that these dark matter filaments ARE said Higgs field? It would seem to reason that the particle and the field would show themselves at relative times in scientific discovery.

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      1. Nanners

        Re: If I can inject a serious question?

        Thanks for the reply. It's dark energy that is the suspect for inflation, dark energy is the suspected cause of mass, and therefore gravitational pull I believe. Now I have to go put "the hand of god" on the turntables.

        1. Nanners

          Re: If I can inject a serious question?

          Correction: dark energy suspected for inflation, dark MATTER suspect for mass, excuse the confusion.

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  15. Beechside

    Snot what you think...

    Yee-ha! Proof of the true origin of the universe. That filament is inconclusively the dribbling snot from the nose of the great green arkleseizure.

    Or it could be a huge signpost pointing to heaven or perhaps to Santa's workshop.


  16. LeroyX

    So, is the dark side stronger?

    1. Crisp


      You're just slightly more restricted in your choice of lightsabre colours.

  17. Spoonsinger

    "as Geoffrey Rush's Philip Henslowe was wont to say in Shakespeare in Love, "It's a mystery."?

    A bit laboured, shirley 'as Toyah Wilcox was won't to say "It's a mystery." would be better?, (unless you are getting paid by the word).


  18. Anonymous Coward

    We go downscale we find the elusive Higgs-Boson giving elementary particles mass. We go upscale we find the elusive Dark Matter giving the universe mass.

    T'is obvious it's all cyclical: Inside every elementary particle is an entire universe... and our entire universe is merely an elementary particle in someone else's universe.

    Try dropping a load of magic mushrooms and thinking about that one!


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