The following original story aims to communicate the complex mysteries of the Universe to children of all ages. Feel free to use it for your own outreach endeavors but please do so while respecting my intellectual property rights.
My name is Nicolas and I am a Dark Matter physicist. As a physicist, I get to study the comings and goings of the universe.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the very large things in the world and the very small things. I think about how the planets move, and I think about how magnets work. I think about how atoms are held together and I think about how stars are arranged in the night sky.
But none of those is my favourite thing to do. My favourite activity is dreaming. I go to bed at night and dream of worlds filled with crazy characters. I go on adventures that take place on strange planets that I’ve never been on before.
During these dreams I enjoy just floating and flying through the stars. I swim through space as if it were the open sea. I travel from planet to planet visiting some of my favourite friends and places. Galaxies are like tropical reefs, rich with life. The space between the Galaxies is dark and often holds many secrets.
I love exploring the emptiness. I look at the distant stars and wonder what the planets that orbit them may look like. I often head out to the unknown and try to find my next adventure. It was on a dream like this that I met a very dear friend of mine; Vera the Dark Matter Space Whale. A night that changed my life.
It was a trip just like any other. I had just left our nearest galaxy Andromeda, when suddenly…. I received information regarding pulsation generation in gravitation. A very strange situation for that location. Was this an indication for an unknown civilisation? This needed further examination.
Gravity is the attractive force between all objects heavy or light. It keeps humans on the surface of planets and it keeps moons in orbit. A force so strong it makes stars shine. When an object moves the gravitation around it changes. A pulsation such as this must be coming from a nearby object…
But I was far from any planet and I could see no lights. I searched, and scanned and looked, but no spacecraft could be found either. All my indicators were indicating and all my detectors detecting. The space in front of me was indeed truly empty. Yet the signal I received seemed stronger by the minute. How could there be something there if I cannot see it?
It was music! A piece no human can ever hear or feel, but a piece heard in both space and time. A piece written for the planets themselves. This was incredible! Who could possibly be able to compose and perform a gravitational masterpiece like this?
My translator! It was picking up a language in the gravitational pulses! But how could it be? A language as old as the universe itself? This piece was a song!
Travelling through the universe all alone. Travelling through the universe on our own. With our never ending song, we pull the stars together, in the vast unknown.
An intelligent creature. How old could it be? What did these words mean? At that point I knew what I had to do. I quickly rerouted the translator to the gravity generator and responded;
Travelling through the universe all alone. Travelling through the universe on my own. With this beautiful song, I wish to find adventure, in the vast unknown.
A period of silence followed my song. Silence fitting the emptiness that I was still surrounded by. I began to think the creature was gone forever. Hidden by the emptiness it came from. Thankfully, I was wrong as she responded.
“Adventurer that I cannot see, I can hear you! My name is Vera and I am very excited to be speaking to you. This is a very VERY rare opportunity. I do not see you as I am made of Dark Matter and you are not. Whales like myself inhabit every corner of this universe, yet we remain unnoticed. There is much to discuss!”
We spoke for hours. Exchanging information about each other’s hidden worlds. Vera had been travelling for a long time! By the sounds of it, she was there at the very beginning of time! She has been travelling for 13.8 billion years. I am the first creature she has ever come into contact with since her voyage began.
“I was raised in a hot and dense universe. A neighbourhood as small as a your fingernail, inhabited by thousands of particles and gases. Everything you can see used to be part of my neighbourhood. The stars, the planets, the entire universe used to be really really small back then. Since everything was so close, things used to be a lot hotter. In fact, hotter than the sun itself. All of my friends were there.”
“Baby protons used to be so positive, born only a second after I was. They used to love playing with the electron and photon households. The photons would always run around, keeping the neighbourhood warm, vibrant and colourful. They were the fastest of the group. The electrons, even though quite negative, loved bouncing around as much as they did circling the protons. I miss them all so much, even the antisocial and indecisive neutrinos, with their constant character flips.”
“Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any of them for a long time. As the universe expanded and grew, everybody went their own way and communication stopped. My family, the Dark Matter family, is the largest family of them all. Five times as large as any other family combined. After separating from all the other families we have had one important job; to keep everyone together in the hopes of seeing the other families again!”
Vera and her family spend their lives singing a song that never ends. Their song binds the galaxies together, allowing life to exist. Without their song, the world as we know it would fly apart. I wondered if any of the particles that make up my body were ever friends with Vera.
In our conversation, I recognised her frustration. The situation was, in summation, rather unfortunate. Her entire population was in a never ending migration with a single limitation. I had the sensation that I had to help. I had to find a way to help!
Vera cannot communicate with the rest of the universe, which is why I still cannot see her. Her species, even if five times bigger in size, cannot contact any of their childhood friends. I had to take advantage of this rare opportunity. I had to do it for Vera and her family.
On that day I set out on a new adventure. An adventure that I live every day as a physicist. My goal is to help Vera find her friends. I need to remind people of what Vera is and what she does. I need to prove that the entire Dark Matter family exists, and finally shine light in this mysterious world! To create a universe that is once again united.
Whenever I have a hard day, I just imagine Vera swimming by, smiling as she knows that it is all a matter of time until she is reunited with her friends.