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Hidden Matter
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

One of the most unexpected findings of 20th century physics is so-called dark matter: the fact that the vast majority of the universe may be made up of matter that is invisible to us. According to physicists, only 5% of all the matter and energy in the universe is in a perceptible form, meaning the stuff that makes up stars, planets, and living beings. The other 95% is composed of matter that is completely hidden from us.

This matter is impervious to discovery in a laboratory, even with the most sophisticated microscopes or instruments. Nobody has ever seen or felt this dark matter. However, physicists are convinced that it must exist, in order to account for the unexplained heaviness of certain bodies in space. Even if all visible matter in the universe would be sucked out, leaving an absolute vacuum, the dark matter would remain.

The current scientific wisdom accepts that there definitely exists a form of matter which we cannot perceive or explain. It is still unknown exactly what it is composed of, to the point that some scientists are now resurrecting ancient theories such as "the fifth element" or "ether" which ostensibly fills all of space.

Centuries after Galileo lifted the first primitive telescope to his eye and identified stars and planets, and 19 years after the Hubble space telescope was launched, giving us an unprecedented broad view of space, we have returned to the starting point. Modern cosmology now recognizes that not all matter is accessible to our senses. The most fundamental and powerful forces in the universe are beyond our purview. Ancient concepts, based in philosophy and mysticism, are being dredged up to bridge the gap between theory and observation.

Today we are witness to the reevaluation of many ancient ideas that "progressives" once dismissed with scorn. Now these same ideas are being found worthy of a renewed, more penetrating look.

The most ancient and meaningful concept of all, no doubt, is the light of Moshiach that pervades the universe. Our sages interpret the second verse in Bereishit, "And the spirit of G-d hovered on the face of the water," as follows: "This is the spirit of Moshiach." In other words, even before the world was created in its current form, when all was still tohu va'vohu--null and void, the spirit of Moshiach existed, waiting for the moment when it would descend and express itself in a form we can recognize. Now, finally, we are at the cusp of the era when that light will be revealed, with the imminent coming of Moshiach.

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.



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