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Dark Matter and Vera Rubin, Dec. 25, 2016

Our own Reina Reyes has something in common with the late Vera Rubin and that is Dark Matter.

We have as of now studied only 5% of all matter that exists. Yes, only 5% the rest is 75% made up of Dark Energy and 25% is made up of Dark Matter. 

Dark Matter. The 25% of all matter is all around us. It envelopes the galaxies and clusters of galaxies and we cannot perceive it in the usual way we look at matter.

What we learned in
elementary science subjects is that matter is composed of atoms and has protons and electrons, that is it has an electrical charge. But Dark Matter does not have it. In fact, Dark Matter does not interact with light. But it does interact gravitationally.

It was by the observations of Vera Rubin, particularly in the 1980s that Dark Matter was seriously considered. Her observations contributed to convincing evidence that there is Dark Matter. The overly rapid rotations of galaxies was evidence of the existence of Dark Matter. Although, she was not alone in her observations, her indirect evidence for the longest period broke barriers in recognizing the 25% of matter that seem to not be existing.

Such studies should have been included in the great discoveries of the 20th Century. But it is only recently that such an obscure field was recognized being that 25% of all matter is Dark Matter. 

Dr. Rubin observed that stuff far out in galaxies rotated at the same speed as stuff near the center. This proved as an indirect evidence that there was far more matter in the galaxy than anyone could see.

Dr. Rubin’s insight was revolutionary, and she received other awards in her career; in 1993, President Bill Clinton gave her the National Medal of Science.

Unfortunately, Dr. Rubin passed away Christmas Day of 2016. But the significance of her discoveries and studies should have been given the recognition they deserved. A Nobel Prize perhaps?

Let us then welcome 2017 with more appreciation to those, especially women scientists who work in so called obscure scientific fields but find answers to much bigger questions that many of us even fail to ask.

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