YOUNG REPLIES: Cold dark matter (CDM) has become an important component in current cosmological theories. Evidence for cold dark matter comes from observations of the rotation curves of galaxies and of the structures seen at galaxy and larger scales (bigger than 100,000 light-years, say). The lumpiness seen at smaller scales does not seem to require CDM, though. For star formation as discussed in the article, we are looking at size scales of only one light-year or smaller. On these scales, ordinary matter seems to be all that is needed to explain the dynamics and energy balance of the structures we see. Also, because CDM does not interact strongly with electromagnetic radiation, it cannot radiate its energy efficiently. It is this radiation and cooling that tips the balance in favor of gravity to form stars.
Dancing until Dawn
Every lobbyist in Washington would dance until dawn if the proposal advanced by Jeffrey D. Sachs in “Fixing the Broken Policy Process” [Sustainable Developments] to forbid campaign contributions by registered lobbyists came to pass. Because these contributions come out of the lobbyists’ own pockets, they would instantly receive, in effect, a raise. The step would make not a ripple in the corruption inherent in our current political campaign financing system. Contributions from lobbyists are a tiny share of the cash flowing in from moneyed interests and indeed from average Americans. Only mandatory campaign-spending limits offer any real hope of reducing the impact of money on Congress; a ban on television advertising would not hurt. Sadly, our Supreme Court is moving exactly in the opposite direction, clearing the way for unlimited third-party spending on elections.
The fundamental ingredient that is lacking is public consensus. And for that we have ourselves and our neighbors to blame. Farmers like corn ethanol, miners like coal, bankers like carbon trading, and so on. As my old boss once said, one man’s pork is another man’s vital national program. With such a diverse country, it is a wonder that anything gets done right.
My radical proposal: less money, certainly, but radically less; more lobbyists, not fewer, so that all our myriad points of view are better represented; more closed meetings so members could actually compromise in the public interest without fear of “gotcha” attacks from the interests hurt thereby.
Robert R. Rose