Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dark Energy Exists!

Somehow, this find managed to slip past me last year.

Back in May, right around the time that the Circus Republican Primary was kicking into overdrive, a the results of a major astrological survey came in. Living in America like I do, I never get interesting news like this when it happens. After survey 200,000 galaxies across the known universe, it was proven that dark energy really exists. The WiggleZ Dark Energy Survey, conducted across 14 countries by 26 astronomers, using the latest spectrographic technology, proved the Grand Old Man of Physics right once again: Albert Einstein's cosmological constant is a very real thing.

This is incredible. Perhaps it speaks to my imagination that my first train of thought was, "Negative pressure = harnessed energy to hold the throat of a wormhole open therefore allowing interstellar and intergalactic travel", because that's the first thing everyone thinks about when they hear something like this.

The studies confirm that at least 73% of the known universe is made up of this negative pressure stuff called dark energy. The remaining ~23/25% is made up of a mix of hypothetical dark matter and distinctly non-hypothetical baryonic matter. While good news for potential wormhole physics, this is bad news for the eventual fate of the universe. Dark energy is what's causing the increased acceleration of the physical universe; it will expand until it can't expand no more and then keep on expanding. Within a few hundred trillion or so years, the universe will be about as barren as the Bootes Void is now. Beyond that, we're looking at terrain so sparsely populated that it becomes a true vacuum, with all the interesting physics involved in it. It also gives us confidence that, once again, we can rely on Old Man Einstein when it comes to matters of physics.

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