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"Beyond Einstein": Search for Dark Energy of the Universe

Einstein_cartoon NASA's new division, Beyond Einstein, will investigate profound cosmic mysteries: the nature of dark energy, the physics of the Big Bang, and the distribution and types of black holes in the universe.

In the Star Trek episode, "Cathexis," the USS Voyager encountered trianic energy beings known as the Komar, who lived in a dark matter nebula, in 2371. The starship entered a "dark matter nebula,"  a dark cloud, with zero visibility, that the crew could not see into.

Unlike the fiction of Star Trek, the real dark matter of the Universe does not emit radiation, which means it doesn't shine and does not even absorb radiation; you wouldn't even know you were in a dark matter nebula if one existed. If it did either, it would be detectable by telescope; however it can be tracked with difficulty by gamma astronomy.

The nature, origin, and distribution of dark matter and dark energy is one of the great unsolved mysteries of 21st-century science.

Big_bag_cartoon It seems crazy to us Earthlings that as much as 96 percent of the universe is composed of dark matter that is by its nature invisible to us. In other words, we live in a universe that for the most part we can't even see!

Results from NASA's WMAP satellite and telescope findings indicate that of the entire mass content of the universe, ordinary matter -you, me, trees, Mt. Rushmore, your pet cat, protons, neutrons, electrons, atoms, molecules) makes up only about 4 percent of the Universe (and of that 4 percent half of that is in the form of stars and planets). And the true mystery is that at least two thirds of the invisible universe is not "dark matter" but something far more baffling: that something is "dark energy" -the energy and negative pressure of an invisible field that permeates space that is responsible for making the universe accelerate.

And even more baffling and mysterious, if you add up the dark energy responsible for making the universe accelerate, it actually represents a total mass that is more than all the matter -visible and dark- put together.

Paging Dr. Einstein, please!

The Beyond Einstein Program consists of five proposed missions: two major observatories and three smaller probes. Technology development already is under way on proposed observatories. The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) would orbit the sun and measure gravitational waves in our galaxy and beyond. Constellation-X would peer at matter falling into supermassive black holes.

The Beyond Einstein spacecraft will build on such current NASA missions as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

Related Galaxy Posts:

"42" -Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Foreshadows Actual Weight of Universe

1st 3-D Map of the Universe's Dark Matter

Cosmic Collision  Sheds Light on Mystery of Dark Matter

GAIA -Mapping the Family Tree of the Milky Way

New, Revised Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


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I have proposed the following models for dark matter and dark energy: 1) Perhaps dark matter could be modeled as an intrinsic if not easily explicable curvature of spacetime. We now know, from Einstein's work, that mass is associated with the curvature of spacetime. The usual assumption is that mass curves spacetime. Perhaps it is possible to read the equivalence the other way--that is, that curved spacetime registers as mass. Physicists hypothesize that dark matter is made up "weakly interacting massive particles," the famous WIMPs, and hope to find evidence of their existence in CERN's new collider. However, if such evidence is not forthcoming, a different hypothesis will be necessary. 2) Perhaps dark energy could be modeled as the acceleration of a universal gravitational field. The field seems to come from everywhere, but a sufficiently massive black hole would curve spacetime completely around itself. In this scenario, it would be possible to imagine a Big Bang and a Big Collapse as the same event seen from different viewpoints.

The dark matter pokes a hole in the big bang theory. It was probably more like a prolonged pfffft than a bang.

The Big Bang has always been a mathematical construct, vulnerable to contrary factual discoveries. CBR seemed to be a verification, but there were perhaps other models that could have been considered to account for CBR.

I date back to before the origin of the BB notion, remember Gamow popularizing it contra the steady-staters. Humans have always been eager to come up with guesses, then treat their guesses as fact. Strongly suspect the increasingly popular notion of bubble universes in which all of the galaxies exist in solitude, the others having crossed the lightspeed barrier, is just such a guess, and there will be major problems with it.

I am a member of the Hartnell College Physics Club located in Salinas, CA and we would like to know if the cartoon above with Einstein and the yoyo have a copyright. We have an idea for a T-shirt and would be most appreciative if we might use this for that purpose and possibly on our letterhead. We certainly do not want to infringe upon anyone else's rights. Thank you for your attention to this. Sincerely, Brenda Powers

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