Solving the enigma of matter

Astrophysicists calculate that the sum of all the known material masses accounts for only a fraction of the matter that they theorize ought to make up the universe. The status of the remainder is unknown. According to a prominent researcher in this field, "It remains one of our great, great problems." Frank Wilczek, quoted in "If Theory Is Right, Most of Universe Is Still 'Missing,'" The New York Times, September 11, 1984 .

Experts speculate that unseen matter constitutes the missing portion. And somehow to a lay person, the minuscule ratio of visible to invisible matter they cite brings to mind the inscrutable Cheshire-Cat in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which vanished slowly, ending with a grin that lingered awhile.

Alice thought the "grin without a cat" to be "the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life," Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, Norton Critical Edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1971), p. 53 (chap. VI). but she was also concerned, because of its impressive teeth. Even so, the vast perplexities of matter and antimatter, including such phenomena as black holes in space, are objects—or is it more proper to say non-objects—of concern as well as curiosity to the layman in this field today. Some wonder: What power do these impressive and mysterious aspects have? Does the invisibility of most matter mean that the universe is less material than supposed?

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