Dark matters

How strange that Carrie Fisher and Vera Rubin passed away on the same day. There is a karmic connection between them.

Carrie Fisher has long been a hero of mind, mostly because I have been a fan of her enormously witty and funny writing, and I am very saddened that she passed away too soon. Of course in the popular culture she is best known for embodying Princess Leia, a character she first played at the tender age of nineteen.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, that character devoted her life to battling the dark side of the Universe. Along the way, she showed the world that there is no problem too large if you have a ready wit, a fearless attitude and a blaster pistol.

Vera Rubin never quite entered the popular culture. But pretty much everyone is aware of her greatest accomplishment: In the 1980s her research provided the first strong empirical case that the Universe actually has a dark side.

Along the way she fought and overcame other sorts of dark forces. Alas, those forces were (and still are) considerably stupider and less glamorous than anything you can defeat with a blaster gun.

The pioneering work by Rubin and her colleagues has held up spectacularly well in recent decades. In fact, empirical measurements currently suggest that there is more than five times as much dark matter in the Universe as light matter.

Come to think of it, if you’ve devoted your life to fighting the dark side, those can seem like pretty daunting odds. It may be just as well that Leia Organa did not know about Vera Rubin’s research.

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