A leading Harvard physicist has proposed a most radical theory about how humans evolved, a theory that includes dark matter, the cycle of great mass extinctions, the Oort Cloud, and the Chixhulub asteroid that contributed to the mass die-off of the dinosaurs. Lisa Randall, theoretical physicist and bestselling author, has now linked the aforementioned factors into a cohesive argument that explains just how cosmic events aligned to provide humans their chance to rise.
Business Insider reported November 14 that Harvard theoretical physicist Lisa Randall has posited in her new book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, what may be considered a radical new theory on how humans succeeded the dinosaurs as the most dominant life-form on Earth. There’s little doubt that her theory will be controversial, especially among those who follow belief systems of a creator (or creators). But to follow Randall’s line of reasoning, one must understand that much of her theory — in fact, the very foundation of her theory — is based on something that has yet to be proven to even exist outside of theory itself.
For Lisa Randall, on the long cosmological road that leads up to human evolution, it all must start with dark matter, that substance that, though empirically undetected, theoretically constitutes as much as 85 percent of all matter in the known universe. And according to Randall, a theoretical dark matter disc permeates the Milky Way galaxy. Taking her cue from a old study that noted that the Solar System oscillates in an up-and-down fashion in its passage through space around the center of the Milky Way, she has noted that such oscillations have the Solar System also passing through the dark matter disc. Since this was calculated to occur every 32 million years or so, it lined up nicely with (somewhat) with the mass extinction event that included the die-off of the dinosaurs. Now, Randall did not blame the mass extinctions on the oscillations, but she did posit that the oscillation, while the Solar System passed through the dark matter disc, jarred loose — gravitationally so — a monstrous asteroid from somewhere in the outer regions of the Solar System (like, say, the Oort Cloud) and sent it hurtling Earthward. That asteroid landed off the Yucatan Peninsula and is known today as the Chixhulub impactor.
Most paleontologists agree that the Chixhulub meteor impacting the Earth caused or helped facilitate the massive die-off of some 75 percent of Earth’s species at the time (some 60-odd million years ago). A recent study has suggested that both the meteor impact and subsequent worldwide volcanic activity most likely combined to produce the mass extinction event. These events, in turn, led to the rise of mammals and with them, primates. Evolutionary biologists contend that without the die-off, human beings may have never evolved.
Lisa Randall concludes Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by noting that all humans are descendants of the Chixhulub event. “If true,” she writes (per Business Insider), “the additional wrinkle presented in this book would mean that not only was dark matter responsible for irrevocably changing our world, but also that some of it played a crucial role in allowing our existence.”
Still, Randall’s new theory relies on several theoretical and yet unproven components to be true. Given time, scientists may some day detect and prove the existence of that mysterious gravitational force known as dark matter. Even so, the existence of a “dark matter disc” permeating the Milky Way might not exist at all. Regardless, Randall’s theory about how humans ultimately got here could prove correct in the long run.
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe was released on October 27. According to her Amazon bio, Lisa Randall is not only studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard but was also named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” of 2007. She was also among Esquire magazine’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century.” She is the author of two previous New York Times bestsellers, 2005’s Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions and 2011’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.