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January 30, 2011

What Happens in the Dark

I found this Wall Street Journal article about an upcoming book, The 4% Universe, which explores the dark side of the universe. I was surprised to learn that dark matter takes up 23% of our universe, and dark energy is a whopping 73%. The book takes an in-depth look at what the function of dark matter is, and explains how a study of a supernova revealed that the vacuum of empty space takes up 73% of the energy of the universe, whereas many believed the vacuum energy was zero. All that is really known about dark matter at this point is that it an be observed by its gravitational effects, which are shown in orbits. The book "gives a lively account of how astronomers have met the challenge, finding convincing evidence for a relatively simple, but still mystifying, 'Standard Model' of cosmology." The biggest interest factor for me from this article was just the fact that even though we know so much about our universe, that information only covers 4%, and there is so much more to discover.

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704754304576096530105958772.html

Posted by sekoch at January 30, 2011 10:32 PM


I completely agree. It is unbelievable how little we actually know about the universe, and personally I don't think we will ever be able to know all the components of the universe. If you think back to a few lectures ago when we were discussing light-seconds, light-minutes and light-years, we concluded that when we look far into space, we are actually looking into the past. With this in mind, some of the images we have captured are from thousands of years ago; who knows what that planet looks like presently, after all, the Earth was practically nothing thousands of years ago. There could be an entire civilization just like us and we could never know. With such a vast and seemingly infinite space to explore, we might not live long enough to discover other livable planets.

Posted by: ccastel at January 31, 2011 12:41 AM

It is remarkable how little is actually known about the universe. The fact that the vacuum of empty space takes up 73% of the energy of the universe when many thought it was 0 is a mind-blowing statistic. It makes you wonder what else could be discovered in the future that could change what we think we know about the Universe.

Posted by: mwdolan at January 31, 2011 09:19 AM

I also think its so interesting that we know as much as we do about the universe. The article spoke to the fact that we know a lot about supernovas. This is just amazing; just the fact that we can analyze explosions like this is very interesting. When you think of this as barely 4% of what we could know of the universe, it blows you mind as many have already commented on. I can't wait to see what else we find out in even the next decade!

Posted by: ninagav at February 1, 2011 09:20 PM

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