Dark Matter: Why Should We Care Again?
A lack of scientific curiosity is allegedly one of the many things wrong with American Kids Today. Young people would rather be reality TV stars or professional athletes than scientists and engineers, lament the pundits. Meanwhile, hardworking students in countries like China and India are preparing to reduce the entire future U.S. population to obese service industry employees pumping gas for affluent foreign nationals with multiple engineering degrees.
America losing its competitive research edge is a problem, I’m sure. But then I read articles about the latest big scientific discoveries, and the apathy becomes a bit more understandable. For instance, it was announced today that the still theoretical substance known as dark matter may –– may –– have been detected in outer space. Sample sentences from a news story: “The characteristics of the positrons detected by AMS match predictions for the products of dark-matter collisions. For example, based on an overabundance of positrons measured by a satellite-based detector called the Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics (PAMELA), scientists expected that positrons from dark matter would be found at energy levels higher than 10 gigaelectron volts.”
My first thought after reading that is: I wonder if Kim Kardashian has picked out a name for her baby yet. And for the record, nobody finds the Kardashians more annoying than me.
People, the lack of scientific enthusiasm isn’t entirely the fault of dumb, entitled American kids. Until researchers can find a compelling real-world application for their studies, such pursuits will remain a specialty. Maybe that’s as it should be. Unlike the relevance of dark matter theories, interest in the ongoing romantic drama of Chris Brown and Rihanna isn’t hard to explain.