Digital Dark Matter: The Unseen Forces That Influence Innovation


Editor’s note: Christian Cantrell is a software developer and science fiction writer. He has written two novels and several short stories, and his third novel will be out early next year.

Around AD 150, the Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemy compiled a model of the universe that accurately predicted the movements of the sun, moon, planets, and stars. It was a remarkable achievement, diminished only by the fact that it happened to be entirely wrong. Rather than a relatively simple heliocentric model where planets revolved around a stationary sun, Ptolemy appealed to convoluted constructs to design a celestial Rube Goldberg Machine that kept the earth at the center of the cosmos where everyone felt it belonged.

And yet, it worked. In fact, it worked so well that  it remained the predominant cosmological model for roughly 1,500 years. Even now, projectors in planetariums are essentially inverted mechanical implementations of the Ptolemaic…

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