Comets may be composed of the mysterious "dark matter" thatmakes up 90% of the universe "because they are disappearingand nobody knows where," says Robert Foot of the Universityof Melbourne in Australia. "If I'm right, there is aninvisible mirror universe occupying the same space as ouruniverse, complete with mirror galaxies, mirror stars andperhaps even mirror life."
Every time a comet passes close to the Sun, some of itssurface ice boils off into space. They should be able tosurvive many orbits around the Sun before being totallymelted away, but "the puzzle is they don't," says Foot."Most vanish for ever after passing close to Sun for thefirst time." He thinks comets might be made of a new type ofmatter called "mirror matter," which gives out no light.They contain only a small amount of ordinary matter, andthat this ordinary matter evaporates after passing by theSun, leaving an invisible core of mirror matter.
Most scientists believe comets are made of rock with a thincoating of surface ice, which is what causes their glowingheads and tails. After all their ice is melted, they becomespace rocks, or asteroids. However, Harold Levison, of theSouthwest Research Institute in Boulder, has found that thenumber of asteroids is far too low to account for the numberof expired comets that should be out there in space. "Theseobjects are simply not where we expect them to be," he says.
Mirror matter, if it exists, would be the type of matterneeded to restore nature's left-handed symmetry. "Electronsand other elementary particles are, in a sense,left-handed," says Foot. "Although most scientists have cometo accept that God is left-handed, somehow it has alwaysbothered me."
Foot thinks nature may not really be left-handed, but onlylook that way. This means that for every known particle,there?s actually another particle that interacts in aright-handed way. These particles combine to make mirroratoms and mirror matter. Mirror atoms would interact withordinary atoms very weakly and produce no light, meaningthey could make up ?dark matter,? the missing matter thatastronomers say must exist, because they can measure thegravitational pull it exerts, but cannot see.
Mirror matter would have been formed alongside normal matterin the Big Bang in which the universe was born 12 to 14billion years ago. "It would therefore be surprising if somedid not get incorporated into the interstellar dust cloudout of which the Sun, planets and comets condensed 4.6billion years ago," says Foot.
In addition to the puzzle of disappearing comets, there havebeen many sightings of fireballs streaking down the sky andhitting the ground but leaving no debris or crater. The mostfamous occurred near the Tunguska River in Siberia in 1908,when a 100,000-ton body devastated a huge area of forest yetleft no crater. "A space body made of mirror matterperfectly fits the bill," Foot says.
On April 18, 2001, in Amman, Jordan, more than 100 people ina funeral procession saw a yellow fireball hit the ground,burning rocks and a tree. "Mysteriously, there was nodebris," says Foot. "I think it could have been a smallmirror body."
NASA?s Pioneer 10 and 11 probes, launched in 1972 and 1973,have both been experiencing a mysterious force of oneten-billionth of a G, which is pulling them back towards theSun and slowing them down. "The NASA astronomers are totallybaffled," says Foot. "They've ruled out all mundane effectssuch as fuel leaks and heat leaks."
Other signs of mirror matter could be crop circles and UFOs.A new movie documentary, ?Crop Circles: Quest for Truth?which will be released in theaters starting August 23, putsforth the idea that the circles could be ?shadows? orreflections of invisible objects from a parallel universe.In the film, a researcher shows how, when he holds ageometric object like a triangle at different angles over apiece of paper, different shadows are cast?and all of theseshadow shapes have appeared in recent years as crop circles.To learn about the wonders of cropcircles,clickhere, scroll down and browse through our wonderfulselection of crop circle information.
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