Friday, 12 April 2013

Bev and Carol answer your questions.

(Bev and Carol are characters in my two humorous memoirs: 'One Summer in France' and 'Bunny on a Bike'.)

Today's question is from Tony in Bristol:  'What is dark matter and why can't we see it?'

Bev: Okay, Tony.  That's a good question.  Let's get a comment from Carol first, shall we?

Carol: Don't know.  Don't care.

Bev: Right.  That's okay.  Well, I think I can have a go at answering this one for you, Tony.  You have to think of the universe as a really big place.

Carol: Brilliant!

Bev: Just giving it a context.  Do you want to try?

Carol: Nope.

Bev:  So, all the stars and planets and, indeed you and I, are made up of visible matter.

Carol: Some more visible than others.

Bev: We can measure the mass of visible matter and calculate the forces implicated in the movement of the stars and various other physical bodies through space.

Carol:  Let's do another question. Please!

Bev: Just let me finish, will you?  It's quite simple really.

Carol:  I thought you were an English teacher, anyway.

Bev:  I am.  But I like astronomy, too.

Carol:  (Carol shrugs and closes her eyes sighing loudly.)

Bev:  So, the thing is, the movement of the stars cannot be accounted for by the amount of visible matter.  There has to be other matter to explain the gravitational forces exerted throughout the universe.  So, dark matter provides that extra matter.  And because it is made of unknown, infinitely tiny particles, we can only 'see' it indirectly - when it arrives at a given point and causes a reaction that produces particles that are visible.

Carol: Have you finished?

Bev: Yes, I think so.

Carol: Can I say something now?

Bev: Yes, of course.

Carol: Dark matter is probably not even there at all, anyway.

Bev:  Thought you didn't know or care about dark matter.

Carol:  I lied.

Bev:  So?

Carol:  It's rude to say 'so'.

Bev:  Do you have any comment on dark matter, or not?

Carol:  If you'd let me get a word in, you lovely tart, I'll say my piece... Dark matter probably doesn't exist.  I heard it on the radio this morning.  All the physics we were forced to study at school is probably all completely wrong and will have to be changed.  Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, Mr. Smythe - all dunderheads!

Bev: Who's Mr. Smythe?

Carol: Physics teacher. Bald and too brainy for his own good.  Useless. Nice hands.

Bev:  Great!  Well, thanks for the question Tony. 

Carol:  I was just getting interested.  Has Tony gone? Is he a looker?

Bev:  Yes. And I don't know.

Carol: Oh. Fancy some toast?

Please feel free to leave questions on any subject for Bev and Carol to answer. Note: answers may contain made up bits and may be of no practical use.

Bev and Carol can also be found in 'One Summer in France' and 'Bunny on a Bike' - links at the top of this page.


  1. Hahaha. Brilliant. OK, here's one: why does cake taste sooo good?