Dark Matter

Scientists are searching for Wimps. Weakly interacting massive particles are a particle that we think is sub-atomic, accounts for 85% of matter in the universe, and we just can’t find the stuff.

The most obvious clues of dark matter began coming in as soon as we had telescopes capable of observing remote galaxies. In the 1920’s astronomers were fascinated by the Milky Way and the stars in the night sky, but indications arose that there were more galaxies than just the Milky Way.

With less powerful telescopes, we looked at the night sky and believed everything was a star. We knew that the Milky Way was a dense galaxy of stars, but it was the more powerful telescopes that showed us that some things that we thought were stars were other galaxies.

Lord Kelvin advanced the theory that objects unseen were subjecting gravitational pull within the Milky Way in a talk given in 1884. He speculated that a large percentage of star bodies were dark in the Milky Way. In 1906 Frenchman Henri Poincare advanced the notion of matiere obscure, or dark matter.

In the 1920’s Dutch astronomers Kapleyn and Oort further advanced the theory of Dark Matter and Fritz Zwicky in 1933 was working at the California Institute of Technology and had access to the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Palomar Observatory. He made records of the rotation of galaxies other than the Milky Way and advanced the idea that the rotation of galaxies would cause them to fly apart without Dark Matter.

Brightest Star

Let’s get super Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky is Sirius, 8 light years from Earth and twice the mass of the Sun. Known by many as the Dog Star, it is part of the constellation Canis Major which is south of the Zodiac belt.

In North America, winter is the best season for viewing Canis Major, also known as Greater Dog. The star Sirius is the nose of the dog. Early in the winter, Leo, Cancer and Gemini occupy the 2AM sky from Denver, along the ecliptical plane and towards the east. To the west in the Zodiac belt are Taurus, Aires and Pisces. In the middle of November in the middle of North America, Taurus dominates the night sky.

If your born between April 20 and May 21, Taurus is your sign. The Earth is on the opposite side of the sun from constellations from the opposite sphere of the Zodiac, like Sagittarius and Capricorn. During the course of a year, we gradually see the constellations from the twelve signs of the Zodiac dominate the equatorial plane of the night sky.

Sirius and the constellation Canis Major likewise are best viewed when the planet earth is on the correct side of the Sun. It is more easily seen from the southern hemisphere, although if you look toward the horizon or get on top of a mountain, you improve your chances. Gemini is next to Taurus, and may be the easiest ecliptic constellation to spot, as two bright stars at ten and 11 o’clock, and another bright star a four o’clock. It is supposed to be twins with their feet at the lower left and their heads at the upper right as you throw your head back while facing north.

Below and to the right of Gemini is Orion, and near that is the famous star Betelgeuse and below them more in line with Gemini is Canis Major. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky is the nose of the hound.

Brown Dwarf Stars

The planet Jupiter is a large mass of gasses, and brown dwarf stars are a large mass of gasses. But the difference lies a little bit in the diameter and a lot in the mass. Jupiter is a massive planet, 10 times as thick and a thousand times heavier than Earth. Mercury is the smallest planet, less than 1/2 the width of Earth and five percent the weight of Earth.

But in other solar systems, more massive planets than Jupiter have been discovered. These gas planets are getting near the size of a brown dwarf in their width. But they still do not have enough gas to be a brown dwarf. There is debate in the scientific community as to the difference between a really large gas planet and a brown dwarf. Brown dwarf stars do not have an active stellar fusion reaction in process, but the coolest brown dwarfs are as warm as Earth. This is peculiar because we know that the Earth gets heat from the Sun, and heat from internal nuclear reactions. Brown dwarfs seem to have neither the heat of a nearby star or the heat of a nuclear reaction to rely on.

In the cold depths of space, Jupiter has a surface one hundred degrees below zero. But we think the deepest interior of Jupiter is very hot. This is likely caused by the friction of compressed gasses, compacted by the force of gravity.

A brown dwarf has a surface far warmer than Jupiter. We think some brown dwarfs harbored some fusion at some point. We also believe they are cooling, and often a radiant brown dwarf is very young, much younger than Earth. Theories about the existence of brown dwarfs are decades old, but the best real astronomical evidence is within the last two decades.

We once thought there may be as many brown dwarfs as there are stars, but now we think stars outnumber brown dwarfs by at least five to one. But astronomically, stars give us a bright light to study, as opposed to only a tiny glow.

Black holes were once just a theory, and physicists studying gravity and the mass of large gas planets and small stars thought that something like a brown dwarf existed. Now we have seen them, but questions remain. How many of them lit fusion at a point, are cooler and darker ones still not seen? A key element to study in brown dwarfs is lithium. Lithium is present in some brown dwarfs, and may indicate some fusion at some point.

But if many more brown dwarfs are much older, much cooler, darker and harder to see, we don’t really know yet how much we know about brown dwarfs.

Wikipedia has more up to date information about brown dwarfs.


500 light years from earth, much further than Tau-Ceti at 12 light years, Kepler-186f orbits red dwarf Kepler-186 with a radius similar to Earth. Discovered and documented by the Kepler space telescope, it is accompanied by four other planets orbiting much closer to the star. The planet 186f would seem to orbit it’s ‘sun’ in just over four months.

While news reports make popular the existence of an Earth0like planet in an Earth sized orbit, this is not interesting because the star is a red giant, and the system seems to lack the protective gas giants that would shield a planet of this type from meteorites and comets. However the Earth sized palnet is important in that gravitational forces would be comparable. However the Olympics, if held on such a planet, would have their own set of high jump and pole vauit records to deal with minor gravitational differences.

Kepler-186 is a star one twenty fifth the brightness of the Sun. Kepler-186f is actually in a smaller orbit and would receive around one third the light energy than does Earth.

About ten percent larger than Earth, 186f is still not with any certainty identified as the home of oceans or a thick atmosphere. It’s rotation speed, or day is also not determined, but because of its proximity to the start 186, it is thougt that the day length might be much longer than Earth’s.

Outernet speeds

The Outernet folks have announced speeds of 2400 baud for a worldwide internet free for anyone using satellite coverage much like today’s GPS systems run 24/7 without subscription helping millions of people and businesses too. But Outernet doesn’t really operate like an internet wi-fi connection, it is primarily a broadcast only application.

Much as GPS data is used by your receiver, which calculates the distance from each satellite itself, no information is sent from terrestrial devices to the satellites by Outernet users. An Outernet surfer does not have the option to send the system a specific ‘request’, i.e. it’s nothing like the internet as we know it.

The Outernet is more like a radio station. When tuned to the Outernet, you will receive the news, as they see fit to broadcast. That’s not to say that protocols can arise to overcome this limitation. The Outernet will easily be received, as it’s been proposed, by any wi-fi device, but probably by using the Outernet application. The conventional Safari browser on your iPhone might well have nothing to do with this application.

What may be a part of this application is a link to the SMS capabilites, and at some time the Outernet application will send a request back to the Outernet servers from your device which includes your device’s ipv6 address to the Outernet, which then could possibly be aimed back to your device with conventional protocols.

Short of the conventional request/response architecture of current internet usage, the Outernet application will be more of a news reader, scrolling data with news, weather, sports and the current price of hog bellies directly to your phone, whether you have a cell signal or not.