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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The air's getting awfully thin

Universe 'in rapid expansion' (May 19, 2004)
THE universe is expanding at an ever increasing pace, British researchers announced today confirming, with the use of a NASA telescope, findings that offer an important potential insight into the future of the cosmos.

I've been reading about dark energy actually accellerating the expansion of the universe for a few years now. I recall when I heard about the scientists initial discovery that the universe is expanding faster now than long ago. It was (and is) a huge mystery, because based on everything known to date about gravity, the universal expansion should be slowing down (since everything attracts everything). The only real question at that time was whether the universe would eventually collapse or if it would continue to expand, but at an always slowing pace.

By examining the rate of expansion long ago versus the rate of expansion more recently, the scientists have determined that the rate of expansion is faster now than before. The universe is expanding faster and faster. It is being ascribed to something termed "dark energy", and now they are trying to figure out what is this (currently) most mysterious, and apparently, most common of things.

Researchers who led the study estimate that the universe is composed of 75 per cent dark energy, 21 per cent dark matter, and only four per cent of normal matter such as that making up the Earth.


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