Dark matter doesn't interact visibily with light or matter. Comets or "random space debris" will not cause consistent 20% dimming.
And yet it's still equally likely, since as the original article, and several posters have pointed out, the whole "it was aliens! Dyson sphere!" thing would be causing large emissions in the IR area, which are not present.
Also, the term "dark matter" is not just applied to exotic invisible space matter, but also to clouds of gas and dust that are just too cold to emit any light (hence, dark). Random space debris in large enough concentrations, oort cloud distortions from another star (the small red dwarf about 130 billion km out that the article mentions) are again a possible cause.
The problems with the majority of these ideas (including the dyson sphere/swarm/...) is that most of them would be showing additional signs like glowing brightly in IR, which is just not present.
Also, the dimming is not a consistent 20% - it's changing frequently, and not in a smooth or repeating pattern. (which would suggest a planet or other orbital body) If anything, what makes it interesting is that it's not consistent, but it keeps happening.
Seems a bit condescending, why wouldn't a girl be able to do this?
Er... the last sentence was "What's of particular interest is the study's author is a 17-year-old high school student from Ohio." - the "interesting" part is that they're a highschool student and 17 years old, with a published scientific paper to their name. The summary doesn't even mention that they're a girl, you'd have to go and read the article to find that out.
Reading the article... what kind of first post-er are you?
"Investigated and overturned as without merit" doesn't mean cheating didn't occur in that instance.
Very true, but back when I was teaching, every instance of cheating that I bothered reporting was upheld by the administration, and in one case resulted in a deportation. The ones I didn't bother reporting were because their cheating led to them failing anyways. (In one case, five times, with two mandatory one-year academic suspensions in-between. The sixth time he was in the class, I forced him to sit where he couldn't see any other students during the exams, and took his phone away - he got 80%. He knew the answers, he just wasn't willing to read his own @#%* test paper.) Well designed and set up exams and assignments tend to make cheating range between "more difficult than it's worth", and "likely to cause you to fail". And even then, failing a whole class, including students you've admitted don't deserve it, as revenge against a few (or even several) cheaters is inappropriate.
1. Just tell them you only have Linux, they'll hang up immediately.
I tried that when they called me many years ago (back when windows XP was new... and they had the same recorded opening message back then) and the guy on the phone told me that no I didn't, my computer was a Microsoft Windows Computer, because that is what everyone has. He literally would not believe me that I wasn't using Windows. He actually got angry with me. It was kinda funny really.
Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. -- Pablo Picasso