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Starlyte

Dark Energy Tied to Human Origins

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Dark Energy Tied to Human Origins

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Among the most elusive and important questions in science are whether we're alone and what the heck that strange stuff is that's pushing the universe apart. Neither is likely to be answered anytime soon, yet each occupies many great minds and together they drive billions of dollars in research spending every year.

Now wouldn't it be really weird if these two seemingly unrelated questions were intimately linked? Strange but possibly true, says Mario Livio, a theorist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Astronomers have known since the 1920s that the universe is expanding. In 1998 they were astounded to learn that it is expanding at an ever-increasing pace. The universe is accelerating, in other words.

Nobody has a clue what's up, so smart minds invoke a thing dubbed dark energy to explain why gravity appears to have turned into a repulsive force. They say this dark energy makes up 73 to 75 percent of the mass-energy budget of the cosmos.

"It's the equivalent of us not knowing what water is," as Livio puts it, "even though it covers 70 percent of the Earth."

Fundamentally accidental

One of astronomers' first tasks in this investigation is to determine whether dark energy's repulsive strength changes over time or not. They're working on it. By using the Hubble Space Telescope to discover distant exploding stars whose light is stretched during travel through time and space, researchers can see what the rate of expansion was when the light left each object.

If dark energy's repulsive force decreases in strength with time, the universe might eventually reverse course and collapse. If dark energy gets stronger, things could get way out of hand in the other direction, with all matter -- stars, planets, living things and atoms -- being shredded in a Big Rip.

Preliminary results show things accelerating at a manageable pace for billions of years to come.

Meanwhile, scientists are pretty sure that, whatever it is, dark energy does indeed makes up 73 percent of everything. It's tempting to call that a fundamental quantity of Nature. Livio resists that temptation.

"The values of some constants of Nature may not be fundamental, but rather accidental," he told a group of reporters who gathered at the STScI in Baltimore earlier this month to hear what projects Hubble would work on during its final years.

Livio cites the 17th Century astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, who wrote an entire book to explain the fundamental reasons why there were six planets at certain distances from each other. The math was fine for its time, and Kepler can be forgiven for not knowing about the other planets yet, but it was the whole premise that was wrong.

"He misunderstood the fact that the number of planets and the sizes of their orbits were not fundamental quantities," Livio explained. "They were accidental values for the conditions that happen to be in the disk around the Sun."

Other planets around other stars, we know now, have wildly different setups.

FULL ARTICLE LINK

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i had read this article before, quite mysterious.

it creates more questions though. especially, why does the dark matter only seem to work in expanses of space? i mean, why hasn't the earth and other planets started moving away from the sun? it would appear that not enough dark matter exists in a solar system, or even a galaxy to cause, planets and suns and systems to move apart.

only in the space between galaxies, does dark matter seem to have enough push, or possibly pull, to send galaxies heading away from each other.

by the time we are able to develop practical space travel everything will be too far away to visit.

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Dark Energy Tied to Human Origins

I smell a big hint of the "strong" Anthropocentric Principle here.

Funny thing is, it's probably correct. Given that the observer and the observed are just parts of one continuum and in reality cannot be seperated. The separation is an illusion generated by the perspective of consciousness in the physical, when in fact the physical, the consciousness (the observer) and the dark energy are all fundamentally the same thing. Energy......except their individual quantum ground states are different.

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