Dec 01, 2014 I Tom Head

How Dark Matter May Have Created All Life

The fact that we don’t know much about dark matter doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a great deal to do with us. Because it makes up 85% of the material universe, it stands to reason that it has played some kind of role in our origin. UC-Irvine astrophysicist James Bullock, who specializes in dark matter and cosmology, has studied the cosmic web for some idea of what that role might have been:

In a big picture sense, modern cosmology tells us that our Universe is governed by two mysterious substances — dark matter and dark energy — locked in an epic battle to shape the character of our cosmos.

Dark matter plays the role of Creator: its gravity is pulling sections of the Universe to buckle back on itself, forming galaxies along the way. Dark energy is doing just the opposite. It’s fighting the collapse by propelling the universe to expand at an ever faster rate. Luckily for us, dark matter has been winning for most of cosmic time, particularly in the all-important early stages. Our Galaxy, the Milky Way, would have never collapsed out of the expanding rush of the Big Bang without the aid of dark matter’s pull. That means no Sun, no Earth, and no you.


Of course, we’re created by the tension between dark matter and dark energy and not by dark matter alone; either element would destroy us if left unchecked. Without dark matter, we would live in an uninhabitably simple universe in a state of permanent extreme decomposition into its most basic elements; without dark energy, we would all be crushed by gravity into an equally uninhabitable, superdense galactic center.

That life-giving tension between dark matter and dark energy is just one instance, among many, where the narrowest and most precarious elements of the universe are in perfect balance—and, for the sake of our emergence and survival, have to be in perfect balance.


Tom Head

Tom Head is an author or coauthor of 29 nonfiction books, columnist, scriptwriter, research paralegal, occasional hellraiser, and proud Jackson native. His book Possessions and Exorcisms (Fact or Fiction?) covers the recent demand for exorcists over the past 30 years and demonic possession.

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