Friday :: Nov 17, 2006

Open Thread - Dark Energy Edition

by Mary

Kepler's Supernova

For the last three years the Hubble Space Telescope has been used to study 23 of the most distant supernova to see if they could find evidence supporting one of Einstein's theories of the universe. Einstein posited that there was a replusive force that was counteracting the force of gravity because otherwise the universe would collapse upon itself. However, there was scant chance that Einstein would have had any way to determine whether this theory was right or not and later he abandoned it.

The finding provides further support for, but does not prove, Albert Einstein's idea that a repulsive form of gravity exists in space.

That theory, called the cosmological constant, was developed by Einstein to explain the balance between the expansion of the universe and the powerful gravitational pull of stars and other matter.

He eventually abandoned it, calling it the "biggest blunder" of his career, and the theory lay dormant until the discovery of dark energy in the late 1990s.

What the scientists have found is that dark energy (which makes up around 70% of the Universe, with dark matter taking up another 25% and our ordinary matter constituting the last 5%) has held steady over 9 billion million years or more than two-thirds of the way back to the beginning of the universe. The study provides evidence that Einstein's abandoned theory could be right.

And fortunately, despite the Bush war on science, it seems that the Hubble Space telescope could have a new lease on life as NASA is going to send up the shuttle to try to repair it. That is definitely good news.

Image courtesy of NASA

This is an open thread.

Mary :: 11:04 PM :: Comments (18) :: Digg It!