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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 26, 2005 10:28:31 GMT -6
Our universe is made up not only of stuff you can see, touch, taste and hear, but also something more dangerous. Something called dark energy is slowly pushing the entire fabric of the universe apart.
The Mystery of the Universe
For most of us, tiny sparks of light flying across the dark sky turn thoughts to the flittering flashes of fireflies on carefree summer nights. But astronomers might be reminded of one of the strangest forces in the universe — dark energy — which arises from tiny particles that seem to pop in and out of existence throughout space.
"Dark Energy is the greatest mystery in all of astronomy and physics," says physicist Michio Kaku, and author of "Parallel Worlds." "It holds within it the destiny of the universe itself,"
Albert Einstein first introduced the idea of dark energy in 1916, calling it "the energy of nothing." Kaku says, "He called it his greatest blunder. However, today we know that Einstein's greatest blunder holds within it the destiny of the universe itself."
Now, cosmologists have estimated that as much as 70 percent of the universe is dark energy, with only five percent being ordinary matter and the remaining 25 percent being dark matter — matter particles that can't be detected by the radiation they emit, but are found by the gravitational effect they have on visible matter such as stars and galaxies.