Professor Lisa Randall studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University. Her research connects theoretical insights to puzzles in our current understanding of the properties and interactions of matter. She has developed and studied a wide variety of models to address these questions, the most prominent involving extra dimensions of space. Her work has involved improving our under-standing of the Standard Model of particle physics, supersymmetry, baryogenesis, cosmological inflation, and dark matter. Randall’s research also explores ways to experimentally test and verify ideas and her current research focuses in large part on the Large Hadron Collider and dark matter searches and models.
PhysOrg has an article about Dr. Randall: Physicist links dark matter to dinosaur extinction in new book. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Dark matter: The world’s brightest physicists know it’s there, but can’t say for sure what it is. It is invisible, mysterious, and to most people — irrelevant to everyday life. But what if it could reach out and touch us? What if it already has, and so deeply that it just might be responsible for putting us here?
One Harvard physicist is exploring that idea, and pondering the possibility that dark matter may have triggered the most famous cosmic collision ever — the one that did in the dinosaurs and opened the way for mammals to take their place.
Good beginning, huh? Then we’re told:
Theoretical physicist Lisa Randall, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science, sees intriguing lines of evidence that tie dark matter to comets in the solar system’s distant Oort cloud, and from there to the 66-million-year-old impact crater on Mexico’s Yucatán coast.
We can’t even imagine what the creationists will do with that idea. Let’s read on:
Randall first explored the idea last year in an article, co-authored with Assistant Professor of Physics Matthew Reece, in the journal Physical Review Letters. Inspired by the intricate chain linking dark matter, Earth, dinosaurs, and modern life, Randall decided to take a deep dive into the subject for her new book, “Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe.”
This is her paper in Physical Review Letters: Dark Matter as a Trigger for Periodic Comet Impacts. All you can see without a subscription is the abstract, which says:
Although statistical evidence is not overwhelming, possible support for an approximately 35×106 yr periodicity in the crater record on Earth could indicate a nonrandom underlying enhancement of meteorite impacts at regular intervals. A proposed explanation in terms of tidal effects on Oort cloud comet perturbations as the Solar System passes through the galactic midplane is hampered by lack of an underlying cause for sufficiently enhanced gravitational effects over a sufficiently short time interval and by the time frame between such possible enhancements. We show that a smooth dark disk in the galactic midplane would address both these issues and create a periodic enhancement of the sort that has potentially been observed. … We find that, marginalizing over astrophysical uncertainties, the likelihood ratio for such a model relative to one with a constant cratering rate is 3.0, which moderately favors the dark disk model. …
And this is her book at Amazon: Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe. Okay, back to PhysOrg:
“I was just fascinated by this story,” Randall said. “It was really nice for me to be able to communicate about dark matter through its potential connections to what we see today.”
The book, to be published Oct. 27, takes the reader on a tour of the universe, from the Big Bang to today, from the story of life to mass extinctions, from the distant galactic disk to Earth’s K-T boundary layer — a thin, globe-spanning blanket of dust that scientists believe is evidence of the cataclysmic impact that ended the dinosaurs’ reign.
Ol’ Hambo won’t like this — it’s not biblical at all! PhysOrg continues:
The book suggests that a thin disk of dark matter could have influenced weakly bound comets in the outer regions of the solar system as it revolved around the center of the Milky Way, and may have been the ultimate cause of the impact. Randall admits that the disk hasn’t been found, but said that current data allows for it, and that instruments that might detect it aren’t far off.
Aha — in principle, the hypothesis is testable. Here’s more:
If the dinosaur killer was a comet, the next question is, what gave it the initial push toward Earth? Scientists confronting that question have an additional clue: The impact that caused the dinosaurs’ extinction wasn’t the only one in the planet’s history. There have been several, in fact, and there’s some evidence that they occur at regular — at least on a galactic scale — intervals of between 30 million and 35 million years.
Hey, wait a minute — if those collisions aren’t random, then they’re designed! Maybe the Discoveroids can apply their magic filter to determine that the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — intended for things to work out as they did.
There’s much more to the PhysOrg article, so you’ll probably want to read it for yourself. We’ve already given you plenty to think about, so this is where we’ll quit — but we’re certain that we haven’t heard the last of this. We look forward to the creationists’ response.
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