Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why bother with astronomy? (Part 2)

The world view we have today is astonishing, we see how little we
know, as the universe is said to be made up of stuff, most of which we
cannot see or detect directly. This stuff is all over the universe and
makes up the bulk of it, 84%. That just leaves us with 24% of stuff
that we see and can study
thoroughly. The same stuff that stars billions of light years away are
made of, is the same stuff that you and everything you can see around
you is made of, we call it (rather unromantically) visible matter, and
the other stuff: Dark Matter.
There is something else, perhaps even more weird than the dark stuff.
Though not related to dark matter it is called dark energy. And no, it
is not a force of evil (at least we think it isn't), just a force that
against gravity, and by the looks of it, it looks like its winning as
it is accelerating the expansion of the universe set off by the big
bang some 14 billion years ago. This is as weird as throwing a ball in
the air, expecting it to fall back down as it reaches its maximum
height it instead accelerates upward. That shouldn't happen, right?
Well this is the perfect
analogy given by the astrophysicist, Katie Mack, on her blog.
If history is anything to go by, this world view will also not last
forever, we will find out what this stuff and energy really is, perhaps
discover new physical laws and get ever closer to the truth of where
we come from and where we might end up.

For now we rest easy know the edge of the world is the stuff of
legend...or is it?

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