New dark energy findings suggest Einstein’s theory is dead-on

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New dark energy findings suggest Einstein’s theory is dead-on

By Rick C. Hodgin
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 18:11

Washington (DC) – NASA held a phone-in press conference today wherein three astrophysicists reported the latest findings on dark energy. They have now “clearly seen” the effects of dark energy on the most massive collapsed objects in the universe. This new evidence has aligned scientists behind the central belief that 1) dark energy exists, 2) that it explains why we are seeing the universe expanding and accelerating, and 3) that Einstein’s General Relativity theory is correct – so long as the cosmological constant is applied (something Einstein himself called his “greatest blunder”).

X-ray based
A press release issued today by Harvard’s Chandra X-ray Observatory operated by NASA) explains that, “for the first time, astronomers have clearly seen the effects of ‘dark energy’ … using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.” This effort, unlike previous Supernova research, brings an independent and welcomed confirmation to the possible existence of dark energy.

Scientists believe dark energy is a repulsive gravitational force which “now dominates the universe, although they have no clear picture of what it actually is,” according to the press release. According to graphics given during today’s presentation, dark matter acts as a constrainer. Dark energy, on the other hand, acts as a repeller.

They explain that within the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, the universe began a very rapid expansion. Very quickly this expansion slowed until it began contracting. And, ever since about 5 billion years ago it has been expanding again. The scientists stated that in another perhaps 30-100 billion years, due to the apparently growing repulsive force of dark energy and the resulting acceleration of all normal matter, there will not be any other galaxies visible in the universe as everything will have expanded away at absolutely amazing velocity.

Einstein was right

One interesting aspect of this early “proof” of the existence of dark energy is that, if it does exist, it allows Einstein’s theories to continue at scales on the order of the visible universe. This has remained a question since it was first proposed in the early 1900s when Einstein was working as a patent clerk.

The concern comes from the reality that as our science grows we understand more today than we did yesterday. And presumably we will understand more tomorrow than we do today. Newtonian physics ruled all thought until Einstein came along and blew it out of the water. Einstein’s theories weren’t even provable for several years when the orbit of Mercury was being observed.

One report tells of a student coming to Professor Einstein and saying, “Professor, professor, they’ve done it. They’ve proven your theory,” to which Einstein continued with what he was doing. The student was puzzled and asked, “Professor, aren’t you excited? They’ve proven your theory. What if it would’ve been wrong?” Einstein is reported to have replied, “Then I would have feared for God because the theory is correct.”

It is worth noting that there are still several less accepted “alternative theories” which do not rely on dark matter or energy, and which operate completely differently than Einstein’s theory of relativity. These theories have been gaining popularity in recent years because many physicists still resist the idea of dark matter or dark energy.

Ultimate fate of universe

All of this talk on theories ultimately bring scientists to the point where they must consider the fate of the universe. In this case it is simple. If the dark matter and dark energy theories are true, the universe will continue expanding forever and ever and will never again collapse in on itself to create another Big Bang. If it is incorrect, then we don’t know. Simple, yes?

There is another theory which states that “If anybody ever discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened,” at least according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This existential consideration is taken from the follow-on book by Adams entitled The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, “In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”

Publication and research

All of NASA’s dark energy research will be published in two papers in the February 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal. The research work was carried out over many years at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, along with countless additional research from physicists around the globe.

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