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New Evidence for Open Universe

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the reverse-engineering-the-cosmos dept.

Space 231

Observations made by the Hubble telescope have produced evidence that the universe is full of "dark energy", stuff that has mass but does not emit nor block light, and that a disregarded theory first postulated by Einstein about "negative gravity" is actually valid. If true, this would provide firm evidence that the universe will not collapse in a "big crunch" but will expand indefinitely. See the SF Chronicle, New York Times, MSNBC, or CNN for stories (the Chronicle story is the best, IMHO). For background information, you may want to check out the cosmology FAQ or more information about negative gravity. (Update: 04/04 11:03 AM by michael : A couple of people have pointed out that this write-up is inaccurate; I'm not going to try to correct it, but read the comments for more information.)

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The REAL model (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#315785)

We are made of atoms with electrons.
The sun is an atom, earth "electrons" (we become quarks?)
The galaxy is an atom, the solar system an "electron".
The universe is an atom, the galaxy an "electron"

Oh by the way, light behaves as a particle.
Space contains light.
Therefore space is never empty.

Re:unknown factor solutions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#315786)

Surely everyone must remember `dark matter'. I held my breath over MACHOS and WIMPS... that is until the Hubble telescope was up and running properly, and thousands upon thousands of previously undiscovered galaxies were observed. This new data explained the `mising mass' of the universe much better than the Dark Matter theory ever did.
No, it didn't. Even revised estimates for the luminous mass of the universe don't come close to solving the missing matter problem. The problem is still open.

OpenUniverse? (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 13 years ago | (#315793)

Just wait till SGI hears about this :P

In other related news... (2)

Masem (1171) | more than 13 years ago | (#315794)

SGI is suing the universe for abusing their trademark on "OpenGL". "We feel that consumers will be confused between OpenGL and Open Universe, since the universe encompasses everything and therefore must compete with at least one of our products", SGI spokesmen said at a press conference.

Re:How depressing. (2)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 13 years ago | (#315795)

I don't see how a big crunch or lack of the same makes life have a point. I belive life does have a point but that has nothing to do with science or the big bang. If you want to see a point to life I think you will have to look somewhere other than physics or biology. (Ok In biology there is a goal, reproduce but I digress). If you want to know what the point to life is ask your local priest, minister or rabbi. (Check the local pub they are probably having a drink together...)

Re:As always... (1)

JazzyJ (1995) | more than 13 years ago | (#315800)

Ya know, this sounds like the omega number theory that was posted on here.
" But if one oracle knows Omega, it's easy to imagine a second-order oracle that knows Omega'. This machine, in turn, has its own halting probability, Omega'' , which is known only by a third-order oracle, and so on. According to Chaitin, there exists an infinite sequence of increasingly random Omegas. "

Interesting, don't you think?

As always... (5)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 13 years ago | (#315801)

As always, I am most interested in the philosophical implications. If this ever-expanding universe idea is correct, then there is no "cosmic contraction" to provide the point of mass & energy which exploded in the big bang. That is, there is no never-ending cycle of "big bang/big crunch", and steady state is well and truly dead.

This leaves you with a singularity that exploded for no apparent reason and existed for no apparent reason. Where did it come from? Why did it explode?

How complex do things have to get before "God did it" becomes the best explanation?


Re:How depressing. (1)

NickFitz (5849) | more than 13 years ago | (#315803)

What kind of destiny can we have as a species in this sort of environment?

I wouldn't fret too much. The lights won't be going out all over the universe until next Tuesday at the earliest ;-)

But haven't they decided it was flat? (1)

INT 21h (7143) | more than 13 years ago | (#315806)

And that a good while ago too?

Closed = expands up to a certain point, then contracts

Flat = reaches a ceratin size then stops expanding but stays that size forever

Open = expands forever

Re:Ho hum (1)

GypC (7592) | more than 13 years ago | (#315809)

Oh yes the aboriginal observations of an ancient tribe of desert shepherds... very convincing.

How is it any more valid than, for example, my pet theory that the Universe was created by the sneeze of a gigantic cosmic platypus?

Negative Gravity (1)

Herky-Jerky (9460) | more than 13 years ago | (#315810)

Whoa... All that cryptic stuff that Lao Tze said was true. Science... the search for the obvious. Well, it keeps me employed and the benes are great.

Re:How depressing. (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 13 years ago | (#315811)


Finally!!! (3)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 13 years ago | (#315813)

Observations made by the Hubble telescope have produced evidence that the universe is full of "dark energy", stuff that has mass but does not emit nor block light, ...
Ah, great! They finally found the styrofoam packing peanuts the Universe was packed with when it still was in the crate...


Re:But haven't they decided it was flat? (2)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 13 years ago | (#315814)

That was the tentative best theory for a while. This seems to be the best theory right now. Current evidence seems pretty strong, but it's not an issue that it makes sense to be absolutely certain about, at least not yet.

Re:How depressing. (2)

anomaly (15035) | more than 13 years ago | (#315815)

There IS a point to life.

"The wisest man who ever lived said it this way:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

God loves you and longs for relationship with you. If you want to know more about this, please email me at tom_cooper at bigfoot dot com

One thing that has me wondering is this: if the universe can expand forever, how could there have been a Big Bang in the first place? Are the rules different for this universe than they were for the last one?


Science accepts its mistakes. (1)

raygundan (16760) | more than 13 years ago | (#315817)

Scientific theories are just that-- theories. No good scientist will claim that a theory is fact, just that it's the best match to reality they could come up with given the information, equipment, and methodologies they had access to at the time. If any of those things improve and a new perspective is gained, theories are revised in short order to be more accurate. When things prove wrong, they are scrapped.

This is a lot like you and I writing code-- these folks do their best to find answers that fit in with our (admittedly limited) knowledge of the universe, and they're not going to get it right at first. Unless you write perfect, bug-free code the first time every time, I suggest you cut the scientists some slack. At least they admit they were wrong, fix the theories to fit the new information, and try to improve. Using the willingness of science to admit and attempt to correct its mistakes against it hardly seems fair to me.

I suspect that if someone can find strong scientific evidence for the tale in Genesis, that you will find science quick to accept it. (I can certainly vouch for myself! Prove it, and I will see you in church 28 times a week.) On the other hand, just claiming something is true and being unwilling to budge hardly makes you more right than another person. Just more stubborn.

Re:Origins (2)

Ripp (17047) | more than 13 years ago | (#315818)

Science deals with it quite well...sort of.

It doesn't have a "beginning" or an "end" per se. Those words indicate an existence of a "time before" and a "time after", which there isn't, since time didn't exist until the universe "appeared" and probably won't exist after it either dies from miserable heat death*, or contracts back into the singularity whence it came. Time can only be measured by events. When there are no events, there can be no time. Simple as that.

* Do quantum laws allow for a "heat-dead" universe to truly be "dead"? That is to say there is absolutely zero random pair-generation/destruction going on in the vacuum? Can the energy density == zero? If not then there will always be some aspect of time. It's been a good 6 years since my last modern physics class (which we never got into advanced cosmological stuff like this anyhow...)!!

Re:Ho hum (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#315820)

> there's one explanation for the origin of the universe (1 Genesis) that is still going strong.

Don't be a fool. Everyone knows that Genesis is wrong, and Homer gave the real explanation.


Re:Open universe ? (1)

Jenova (27902) | more than 13 years ago | (#315829)

Open is _not_ Free!~

Re:As always... (2)

CrosseyedPainless (27978) | more than 13 years ago | (#315830)

How complex do things have to get before "God did it" becomes the best explanation?

Infinitely complex, for no explanation to be the best explanation.

Re:Open universe ? (3)

Mignon (34109) | more than 13 years ago | (#315831)

It's been ported to Lisp and is an Emacs package. Just type M-x big-! and start your own universe.

A few corrections. . . (3)

Betelgeuse (35904) | more than 13 years ago | (#315832)

First of all, these data do _not_ suggest that the universe is open, but rather that it is flat. This is a key cosmological difference.

Secondly, dark energy does _not_ have mass (you're probably thinking of dark matter). Dark Energy is thought to be (by some) the vaccuum energy density of the universe. At the current time, it appears that dark energy is accelerating the outward motion of the universe. This, in fact, is what the supernova observations are showing: given our expansion rate now, we would expect the supernova to be moving away from us more quickly than the actual motion we observe. This suggests that the universe was expanding more slowly in the past than it is now; that is, the universe is accelerating in its expansion.

Because it adds to the overall energy density of the universe, however, it is thought to suggest that it makes the universe flat, cosmologically speaking.

Re:Ho hum (1)

Tower (37395) | more than 13 years ago | (#315834)

Is that Homer, the writer of a Greek Epic, or Homer, yellow-skinned consumer of D'OHnuts?


Unlimited expansion of the universe != Good (1)

Skynet (37427) | more than 13 years ago | (#315835)

While it is good that the universe will not crunch back in on itself destroying everything, the neverending expansion of the universe is not good either. Eventually, the universe will be spread so thin that it will be nothing more than an inconsistent soup of matter. Stars and galaxies will burn out, with nothing left to generate new stars.

Eventually, all the light will die out, and leave the universe a cold, dark, and lonely place. Hopefully by this time we (whoever and whatever we are) will be able to generate a new universe, or escape to an alternate one.

Re:How depressing. (2)

pmc (40532) | more than 13 years ago | (#315838)

...hundreds of hundreds of billions of stars out there in space, and the fact that most (if not all) do not have life.

Well, there is at least one that has life. Although possibly not intelligent life.

Cosmological constant does not mean "open" univers (2)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 13 years ago | (#315844)

An "open" universe is not one that will expand forever. "Open" refers to the geometry of the universe.

Here is a link to a good website about it. [] It is a bit technical, but just look at the first graph. It's well labeled.


The best research I have seen on using supernovae to determine structure of the universe, suggested a "flat" universe that expanded forever due to the cosmoligical constant.

Einstein's mistake (2)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 13 years ago | (#315845)

The cosmological constant was a mistake in an equation by Einstein. His equation predicted an expanding universe, and he threw this constant in because he believed that the universe was static and needed a force to compensate.

Info about it here. []


42 (2)

The Queen (56621) | more than 13 years ago | (#315846)

This leaves you with a singularity that exploded for no apparent reason and existed for no apparent reason. Where did it come from? Why did it explode?

After skimming through The Elegant Universe I became a subscriber to the theory that there are multiple 'universes', so I don't see ours as a singularity, but rather an offspring of any one of millions of other 'universes'...
While that may answer you on one level, you could then ask where the MegaMultiverse came from. Can't help you there. But if God had anything to do with it, I think s/he was on some good blotter at the time. ;-)

"Smear'd with gumms of glutenous heat, I touch..." - Comus, John Milton

Re:Headlines: Open Universe (1)

retrac (60508) | more than 13 years ago | (#315847)

I believe the earth is following up with evidence of prior art, dating to 12 billions years before SGI.

Out with Frost, in with Elliot (1)

frobnoid (64717) | more than 13 years ago | (#315848)

I guess Elliot is now a more fitting epitaph for this sort of universe: This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper As opposed to the more uncertain Frost: Some say the world will end in fire; Some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To know that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.

Sorry, trademarked by SGI (4)

eries (71365) | more than 13 years ago | (#315857)

Too late, SGI already has a trademark [] .

Whew! What a relief (1)

MostlyHarmless (75501) | more than 13 years ago | (#315859)

As someone who plans on living forever, this is *such* a relief.

(Insert sarcasm as necessary)


Re:Open universe ? (1)

jsewell (86485) | more than 13 years ago | (#315863)

Actually, yes you can: []

deep questions (1)

jbridge21 (90597) | more than 13 years ago | (#315864)

I think that this rates up there among those deep questions, like

"Is there a god?",

"What is the ultimate fate of humanity?", and

"What should I eat for lunch?"

Re:How depressing. (2)

fiziko (97143) | more than 13 years ago | (#315871)

If we can't move to a new solar system in a few million years, we deserve to get wiped out by a supernova.

Re:How depressing. (4)

fiziko (97143) | more than 13 years ago | (#315872)

Why do you need a purpose? The "purposes" you list for other discoveries seem like they were concocted after the fact to justify it for people who prefer to believe in a supreme being guiding the Universe.

If you really need a purpose, here's one: to provide us with a challenge. If the Universe continues to expand indefinitely, there will be a time when the average density of the Universe is low enough that the formation of news stars becomes unlikely, and the fuel for those stars will begin to be burned up. Survival of the human race will be almost impossible in those conditions. The fight to survive will be the last remaining challenge for a race that will have had more than enough time to uncover a set of physical laws that describe the Universe. We'll need something to do.

Re:As always... (5)

fiziko (97143) | more than 13 years ago | (#315873)

> This leaves you with a singularity that exploded
> for no apparent reason and existed for no
> apparent reason.

I can't tell you if it had a reason for existance, but it may be possible to explain why a singluarity exploded. (That whole "where did it come from" question cannot be answered by science: a singularity destroys almost all information about what it was made of. All you can possibly know about what a black hole as absorbed are the total mass, and net charge and angular momentum of what it swallowed. You need the "God did it" method if you demand an answer to that question.)

Stephen Hawking has shown that the particle-antiparticle pairs that are perpetually being created in all of space (according to the current models) can provide a mechanism for a black hole to lose mass and energy. To explain how, we first must relax the conservation of energy by incorporating the results of quantum mechanics.

In high school, you were taught that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. Well, this is mostly true. Conservation of energy can be violated, provided that violation can never be observed. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of quantum mechanics puts limits on our observations. (Our uncertainty in the energy of a particle, multiplied by our uncertainty in the time we spend measuring it must be no smaller than an amazingly small number, Plank's constant h divided by 4pi.) The Universe can violate energy conservation, provided that excess energy is gone so fast it cannot be observed.

The Universe, therefore, is able to conjure up a particle and its antiparticle anytime, anywhere. The creation of these particles is referred to as vaccum fluctuations. Anyway, these particles can be produced near a black hole.

What happens if one of these particles falls into the black hole, while the other has enough energy to escape? Well, if you do the math, you find that in some cases, the particle that escaped can survive indefinitely; it can behave exactly as if it were a real particle.

What effect does this have on the black hole? The net effect is a loss of energy. Because of mass energy equivalence, this corresponds to a loss of mass. In effect, the particle that escaped is behaving as though it had escpaed the black hole. If this happens often enough, a black hole can reach a point where it no longer meets the requirements of mass and density to be a black hole.

What happens then? Well, nobody really knows. There are a lot of theories, including a Big-Bang type explosion. The one point I feel I should note is that, if this were a Big Bang sort of situation, then there would be matter in the Universe outside the singularity before it exploded. I'm still not sure how much matter this would be. I also don't know what kind of timescales it requires; if it's fast enough, it may appear as though it were a single explosion.

This may not be the answer you're looking for, but I hope I convinced you that answers are possible when you're asking what triggered the Big Bang.

Re:Ho hum (1)

PerlGeek (102857) | more than 13 years ago | (#315877)

Science is getting closer and closer to the truth. Most Christians I know (and I am one, btw) sit back and make fun of the scientists. They make me almost ashamed to be a Christian.

If you want to disprove the idea of an old Earth, roll up your sleeves and start working. Find all the young earth arguments you can, then find out how most of them have been disproved long ago. Do some research, find out which young earth arguments still work, and quote them, not any others.

When a Christian starts talking about how entropy disproves evolution, I start laughing bitterly. Christians who want to be believed in the scientific crowd need to become scientifically literate. They need to humble themselves and learn. Until then, there is very little that they will say about evolution that is worth listening to.

Yeah, I've been very hard on Christians. That's because I am one and I'm disgusted.

That said, I'm perfectly willing to accept the idea of a young earth. Of course, there is something that I'd like to see first. Evidence. It helps. I've seen some already, but not quite enough to convince me yet.

RMS sez: (1)

Richy_T (111409) | more than 13 years ago | (#315882)

'"Open Universe"? That should be "Open Gnu/Universe" thankyouverymuch.'



Re:How depressing. (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 13 years ago | (#315883)

A. the universe is getting larger
B. Matter/Engery cannot be created or Destroyed, only covert states

Therefore, We are we infact destine to Heat Death [] or Cold Death of the Universe?
now THATS depressing :P

Orgone/Aether/Etc? (1)

shpoffo (114124) | more than 13 years ago | (#315884)

So can anyone elaborate (intellegently) on how all of these theories of Dark Energy/Dark Matter/negative gravity/etc are different from previously conceived notions of Ether and/or Orgone?


Re:RMS sez: (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 13 years ago | (#315887)

'"Open Universe"? That should be "Open Gnu/Universe" thankyouverymuch.'
No, no. RMS would argue that it should be a Free Universe...

OpenUniverse and the GPL (1)

infiniti8 (132108) | more than 13 years ago | (#315890)

Will OpenUniverse 1.0 beta be avaliable under the GPL?

The Heechee knew this... (2)

dpilot (134227) | more than 13 years ago | (#315891)

Any reader of Poul Anderson's Gateway series knows about the Heechee investigating black holes and the cosmological constant, not to mention the unmentionables hiding out in the Kugelblitz at the edge of the galaxy. Now THEY know that energy can be massive.

Nomination (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 13 years ago | (#315895)

I hereby nominate UE as "cleverest troll on slashdot".

I'm really confused ... (2)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 13 years ago | (#315897)

Yesterday the universe was going to end in a ball of fire ...

Today it's going to end as freezing desolation of dead stars ...

I never seem to get the right clothes for the ocasion!

Re:Ho hum (2)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 13 years ago | (#315898)

It's not really strange at all if you understand how science works.

Scientific hypotheses are based upon the evidence available at the time. Sometimes there will be different interpretations of the same evidence (competing theories) and it is then up to scientists to devise experiments to try to figure out which interpretation is correct.

As new evidence comes along the theories evolve to reflect this. But that doesn't mean all the old theories were wrong, maybe they just described a particular subset of something, and they needed to be expanded for a more general case.

A good example of this is Newton's Laws of motion, which were superceeded by Einstein's theories of relativity. It doesn't mean that Newton was wrong, just that his theories were a very very good approximation for objects travelling at 'everyday' speeds. In Newton's time they didn't have any way of observing objects travelling at relativistic speeds, as the fastest things around were cannon balls !

Of course you could argue that since Newton and Einstein are in 'disagreement', they are obviously both wrong, and of course God moves everything around by hand.

Open universe ? (5)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 13 years ago | (#315899)

Great ! Does that mean I can change its source and recompile it ?

I'm glad (1)

HerrGlock (141750) | more than 13 years ago | (#315900)

I would much prefer an open universe to a propriatairy one where one company has exclusive rights to charge whatever they want....

What? Oh, never mind.

Cav Pilot's Reference Page []

Good read elsewhere (2)

kollaps (143984) | more than 13 years ago | (#315901)

There was a pretty big multipage read on quintessance in the January issue of Scientific American.

There is visual evidence... (1)

fedos (150319) | more than 13 years ago | (#315905)

that the universe is expanding. A couple of months ago there was a program on one of the Discovery Network channels about two groups of astronomers who were both counting super novas in order to judge how quickly the universe is expanding.

They both found, independently and shockingly to both, that not only is the universe expanding rapidly, but it's expanding with an increasing rate.

To Crunch, or not to Crunch (2)

KaiserSoze (154044) | more than 13 years ago | (#315906)

The way I've always understood it (and the way my astrophysics professors told me as well) was that, with the current known information and such, we live in a flat universe. This is due to the current known value of the density of the universe. If the overall density is greater than something like 8 * 10^-33 g/cm^3(?), than the universe is closed, if it is less than that density, the universe is open, and if it is equal to that density, the universe is flat. Right now we estimate the density to be very close to that number, which suggests flat.

The point in all this is that the density could be anything it could be 300 g/cm^3 or 10^-100 g/cm^3, but it happens to fall very close to the value needed for a flat universe. And with all the possibilities out there, having a flat universe would be like balancing a pencil on its tip. Since, when we check the numbers, it seems like the pencil wobbles a bit(doesn't perfectly stand on its tip, but doesn't fall into open or closed territory very much), it suggests that we do live in a very finely tuned universe.

I can deal with flat though. Its unique. Its got character. If we ever got into a fight with another universe, flat would kick ass!

Re:How depressing. (2)

KaiserSoze (154044) | more than 13 years ago | (#315907)

Well, if that depresses you just sit back and think about the hundreds of hundreds of billions of stars out there in space, and the fact that most (if not all) do not have life. Have you ever seen a picture or heard about the Great Wall of galaxies? I suggest you check it out [] , since it does a good job of making you feel quite insignificant in the grander scheme of things.

I like the fact that we're not special, it doesn't give us any pressure to get something accomplished here.

strange (1)

womprat (154589) | more than 13 years ago | (#315909)

the Chronicle story is the best, IMHO

What's this? Slashdot editors actually reading the stories they post about?

The death of the universe? (1)

rf0 (159958) | more than 13 years ago | (#315912)

Off par slightly put if the universe is thought to expand for ever and that physics says the energy/mass are finite (i.e. I mean they can interchange but the total is always the same) that eventually the universe will end in being an infinitly big yet cold place?

Re:NOT OPEN!! (2)

olivieradam (162258) | more than 13 years ago | (#315915)

The word "Flat" is not the better word, as a flat universe expands itself, but slows down as it losts energy. It hasn't any boundaries, simply it decreases velocity when it grows.
We, in this universe don't see any difference, as our velocity decreases in synchronicity with this universe.
This is the same paradox as event horizon in black holes : you fall in for eternity, here we grow up slowly, for eternity.

Re:Dark energy != Dark Matter (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#315917)

Whoops... meant to link to the article on the hubble seeing the supernova (the background on all the links for this story). You're right, that's an entirely different article (also a fun read, might I add). My bad.

Its still morning for me...

Re:Dark energy != Dark Matter (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#315918)

Here it is [] . That's the article that started this "Dark Energy" story.

Dark energy != Dark Matter (4)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#315919)

Observations made by the Hubble telescope have produced evidence that the universe is full of "dark energy", stuff that has mass but does not emit nor block light,

Your dark energy explaination is actually the definition of "Dark Matter". Dark energy is the repulsive force in space that accelerates the already spreading galaxies.
Another theory that supports this "Dark Energy" is the theory of a second sun Nemesis []

Re:As always... (4)

edp (171151) | more than 13 years ago | (#315921)

"... existed for no apparent reason .... 'God did it' becomes the best explanation?

Sigh, I should know pointing out the obvious will accomplish little, but "God did it" does not solve the problem you pose. "God did it" does not explain why something exists for no apparent reason, since then you have God existing for no apparent reason.

Science is finding out the reasons. Be patient.

After looking at the FAQ (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#315938)

we can stop now. My head hurts.


While this is important in terms of the field, as far as day to day life goes, it is not very important. After all, we have billions and billions of years before the wrap party.

Other areas of research, like the search for planets are slightly more relevant. I want to know if we have neighbors, and if we have to worry about them

The rest is somewhat abstract for my taste.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

Re:Ho hum (1)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 13 years ago | (#315940)

Heck... I don't think that either one are correct, but that is just me thinking about what would seem logical...

Cosmological constant (4)

the Atomic Rabbit (200041) | more than 13 years ago | (#315945)

...a disregarded theory first postulated by Einstein about "negative gravity" is actually valid.

The cosmological constant, which provides a repulsion on the cosmological scale, was famously declared by Einstein to be the biggest mistake of his life. However, it has been known for many decades now that the it is a very valid part of the theory - it's not so much a fudge factor as a constant of integration.

Scientists discover Universe is just like women (2)

Tyrannosaurus (203173) | more than 13 years ago | (#315947)

Great. And I thought my last relationship was the only thing with no closure...


Re:Ho hum (2)

micromoog (206608) | more than 13 years ago | (#315948)

YES! About time we had a creation-vs-big-bang flame war in here!

Bring on the dark matter (2)

tenzig_112 (213387) | more than 13 years ago | (#315951)

Some people don't like dark matter. But every Thanksgiving, I say "Bring on the dark matter!"

You know what they say: Once you go dark matter, you'll never go back. []

Re:Origins (1)

Vann_v2 (213760) | more than 13 years ago | (#315953)

Read more Hawking, especially about space and time lacking boundaries. You'll see him write often that, " [the universe] would just BE."

Trademark issue (1)

BlowCat (216402) | more than 13 years ago | (#315954)

Doesn't "Open Universe" sound confusingly similar to OpenGL? We are just lucky that "Universe" has no "L", or SGI would sue the entire Universe for being open.

Re:Bring on the dark matter (1)

wadetemp (217315) | more than 13 years ago | (#315955)

That was awesome. Thanks for brightening my day with that odd observation. Funnier than any lame MS joke by far.

Vader was right all along. Join the dark side! (1)

smaughster (227985) | more than 13 years ago | (#315957)

a disregarded theory first postulated by Einstein...
Unfortunately Einstein wasnt around to see Star Wars. Plenty of people showing "negative gravity" all around.

Re:Ho hum (2)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#315958)

This is nothing new. Science changes its tune every time they find "new evidence" that shows that their old theories are nothing but bunk.

Isn't this precisely the point of science and it's everlasting quest to prove educated guesses wrong? And a theory is just that, an educated guess, or a hypothesis. Science would be pretty pathetic is we didn't practice this way, the world would still be flat, the earth the center of the universe, ......

Explain something to me... (1)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 13 years ago | (#315960)

How does an optical telescope such as Hubble detect something that, "that has mass but does not emit nor block light". If its not affecting any light traveling through/around it, it doesn't seem logical that looking at light(no pun intended) would reveal it. Anyone how they're doing this?

"// this is the most hacked, evil, bastardized thing I've ever seen. kjb"

Nevermind (1)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 13 years ago | (#315961)

CNN's article explains this. Summary(I think I get it): A certain supernova appeared brighter than it would have if the universe were expanding at a constant rate, because the universe is accelerating. This accleration is caused by this dark energy stuff.

"// this is the most hacked, evil, bastardized thing I've ever seen. kjb"

The funny thing is.. (1)

ishrat (235467) | more than 13 years ago | (#315962)

I can immediately think of two things:

1.There is no dearth of "dark forces" on earth either.

2.The problem of housing and dearth of land and space is a myth, the universe is expanding you see.

NOT OPEN!! (5)

rknop (240417) | more than 13 years ago | (#315964)

A common misconception, left over from decades of cosmology textbooks which implicitly assumed a zero cosmological constant (equivalently, no dark energy). These textbooks all make the equation that closed geometry = universe recollapses, open geometry = universe expands forever, flat geometry = borderline case.

In fact, if you have a cosmological constant (or dark energy), you can have a closed univere which expands at an accelerating rate.

The best evidence about the geometry of the universe currently comes from cosmic microwave background observations, which suggests that the geometry is *flat*. The supernova evidence suggests that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

It is a mistake to state that an eternal expansion, or an accelerating expansion, is an "open" universe.


Re:As always... (2)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 13 years ago | (#315965)

"God Did It" does not qualify as an answer. Because then the first question after that is "Where did God come from?". It doesn't make things clearer, and it only serves to stop those who accept authoritative arguments from asking any further questions -- curious and insightful though they may be. "God" is not a premise that can be tested or disproven.

While I find current cosmological theories extremely fascinating, I think making sweeping generalizations at this juncture is really premature. We can only observe a tiny corner of the Universe, and we have only observed a tiny slice of time, though that slice does expand backwards into time through distance. I am of the opinion that our current theories on how the universe works, as brilliant and revealing as they are, will only be the cornerstone for a further generation of theories which we cannot even imagine at this point. What we define as the observable universe may change in one hundred years, in ways that we cannot imagine at this point. That by itself would void almost all current cosmology.

Re:How depressing. (1)

Random Walk (252043) | more than 13 years ago | (#315966)

The future of life both in closed and open universes has been the subject of some physical/mathematical analysis already.

For a closed universe, for a (non-existent ?) outside observer, the final collape will be quite fast, while for an observer within the universe the final collapse will stretch infinitely (this is a relativistic effect), and energy will not be a problem. If there is some way for an information processing (eventually intelligent) system to survive under such conditions, it may become immortal (and eternally entraped) in the final microsecond of the collapse.
This is basically the Omega-Point theory of Tipler and Barrow (read 'The anthropic principle' by F.J. Tipler and J.D. Barrow, or 'The physics of immortality' by F.J. Tipler).

For an open universe, there is a paper from 1979 by Freeman J. Dyson (Review of Modern Physics, Vol 21, Nr. 3), which is also available online [] . Basically, he shows that life may exist forever by using an activity/hibernation cycle. If a proper hibernating strategy is used, where the relative length of the hibernating phase is increased with time, subjective time can become infinite, while the total energy required will remain finite.

Origins (2)

tewwetruggur (253319) | more than 13 years ago | (#315969)

Why does something have to begin and end, both in terms of time and space? Why can't something just be? This is one of the problems with some of science - it doesn't deal well with that concept.

The force.... (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 13 years ago | (#315971)

Sorry, couldn't resist it :-)
Beware of the dark side of the Force...

"...Fear the people who fear your computer"

Call me a nitpicker... (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 13 years ago | (#315974)

But come on: All this is interesting in a "what a strange and complex universe we live in" sort of way, but can anyone really come up with an ultimate end to the universe that convincingly reads as "good" or "bad?" Guess what - I know some of you think you will ride the technological asymptote to immortality but at this moment there isn't a shred of real evidence that suggests anything other than that we are all gonna die in the very, very, very near term compared to the heat death/big crunch/infinite expansion/who cares of the universe. In the context of that kind of deep time any assumptions on what we will be, or our capabilities, are pure science fiction. It's much more realistic to fret about how we'll escape the galaxy as our sun dies out/expands to engulf us in a red giant/annihilates the galaxy in a supernova... And even more realistic to talk about how the human race will avoid a technological dark age brought on by overpopulation/resource depletion/massive climate change/destruction of arable land/meteor impact/nuclear warfare/ozone depletion/genetic tampering... and so on and so on and so on... Flat? Open? Closed? Whatever.

also 20 new planets discovered (3)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#315977)

Ok so my postings so far for the day will come to a halt, but I figured this should be included in the topic, or... You could just read it anyways...

Two British astronomers have counted up to 20 "free floating" planets, drifting in the constellation of Orion. They told the National Astronomy Meeting in Cambridge yesterday that they had identified the "signature" of water vapour in the infrared spectrum of faint points of light in the Orion nebula. This is a vast cloud of gas and dust 1,300 light years from Earth, but visible as the middle "star" in the sword of the constellation of Orion.

Read on []

Re:How depressing. (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#315984)

> The entire body of science points towards there being a directional purpose to life.

Either that, or some creatures in another type of reality created a gigantic random simulation and said, "Hey, let's see if something in there talks back to us eventually."

Re:How depressing. (1)

imaginate (305769) | more than 13 years ago | (#315991)

That's interesting... I too always have rooted for a universe that collapsed. It seems more cyclical that way, more tidy.

and on the subject of manifest destiny, or directional progress, perhaps you've read The Reflexive Universe by the guy who invented the bell helicopter. If not, it's a very interesting book, well worth the read (even if a lot of the quantum mechanics are well out of date).

If the latest is true, I guess we'll just have to rely on the last question

Re:As always... (1)

KingKenny (307071) | more than 13 years ago | (#315992)

It was quite a while ago when I read Hawking, but I'm pretty sure he spoke of something along the lines of bounces. These bounces wouldn't be the same, which conveniently allows for just about any expansion theory.

Pity the knowledgeable ones left splashbot last year...

How depressing. (4)

Urban Existentialist (307726) | more than 13 years ago | (#315994)

I had always hoped that the universe would collapse in a big crunch, so that there could be a point to life. Now it looks as though the universe will just keep on getting bigger and bigger and colder and colder. What kind of destiny can we have as a species in this sort of environment?

In fact, this really means that I doubt what the scientists say on this matter very much. Everything else in nature has a greater purpose and direction, a manifest destiny if you will, whether it be evolution or consciousness or even life itself. Scientists have always prided them on showing the point of life since the days of Euclid, through Newton (who was a very spiritual man) and onwards.

The entire body of science points towards there being a directional purpose to life. This discovery flies in the face of everything we have learned, and I for one am sceptical. Not until they show the higher purpose (multiuniverses?) will I be convinced of this.

You know exactly what to do-
Your kiss, your fingers on my thigh-

Re:NOT OPEN!! (1)

Eryq (313869) | more than 13 years ago | (#315996)

Except that there is no such paradox for black holes. You don't fall in for eternity: you reach the singularity in a finite amount of time, at least from your perspective. Sure, the last few photons you emit as you pass the event horizon will take arbitrarily long to reach an outside observer (and they'll be terrifically redshifted), but that's it.

You fall in, you die. Fast.

OpenUniverse (1)

Cranston Snord (314056) | more than 13 years ago | (#315998)

If you ask me, NetUniverse is a much better platform for developing inter-galactic life forms.

Re:As always... (2)

Daneboy (315359) | more than 13 years ago | (#315999)

Saying "god did it" is a pretty poor way to explain away the complexity of the world. In order for god to have created a complex object, such as the infant universe, god would have to be pretty darn complex himself -- so all you've really done is replace one unexplainable complexity with another one that you like better. If "god did it" is the best explanation for complex things, and if god is also a complex thing/being, what's the best explanation for god? If you can accept "god was just always there, and nothing was before god," why can't you accept "the universe came from nothing, and nothing was before the universe?" Either way your cosmology has to deal with at least one unexplainable and complex thing/being/force...

Re:Here is a graphical depiction of "dark energy" (1)

Anusmouth_Cowherd (321219) | more than 13 years ago | (#316000)

you seem to have the terms "dark matter" and "black hole" confused.

© 2001 Anusmouth_Cowherd.

expanding universe questions (1)

no names left!!! (323949) | more than 13 years ago | (#316002)

ok - one thing, space is full of "space" right? and while there is stuff (particles, dark matter, whatever else) in it, its all very spread out, so if the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?? more space?? surely there must be space for it to expand into ?? and if there is space for it to expand into then how is that space different from the space right at the edge of the universe? and how would you know the difference?? and if there isnt any space at the edge then what happens if you send something past the end? (unrealistic in terms of distance and time but hey im just curious to any answers somemone may have) answers on a post card to.... :)

Glass blocks a LOT of light. (1)

Lethyos (408045) | more than 13 years ago | (#316005)

Perfectly clear glass is not possible. Photons are at least scattered as they undergo the "gulp-burp" process. Hell, even earth's atmosphere (air) blocks a great deal of light. How do you think we're not bombarded with deadly doses of solar radiation? Also, don't forget the cause of refraction.

Take even the "best" glass (that which distorts and blocks the least amount of light) will appear to be opaque if you make it thick enough. Look at a large pane of glass lenght wise. It may be clear through the thin section, but not down the length.

Therefore, Glass != Dark Matter since glass blocks light and dark matter does not.

Headlines: Open Universe (2)

increduloidx (409461) | more than 13 years ago | (#316006)

And in a related story, SGI systems has filed legal proceedings for copyright infringment against the entire fucking universe.

Thier copyright must be protected.

The One,
The Only,
--The Kid

Wahoo! (1)

Telek (410366) | more than 13 years ago | (#316007)

Warp drive here we come! That is, if there is such a thing as negative energy...

Re:Ho hum (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 13 years ago | (#316008)

... and this was labeled "insightful" instead of "flamebait?"

"shows that their old theories are nothing but bunk. "

Yeah, we keep on changing our tune every few years or so. It's amazing how far off-the-mark Newton was with his laws of motion and gravitation. It's a miracle that the Saturn V reached the moon using his laws.

"science sings a different song every couple of years or so,"

At least in science we CAN change our minds. That's the whole point of it. We can accept other peoples' points of view when they're able to back it up with undeniable proof (note the use of the word 'undeniable.') When was the last time somebody argued with the Bible and won? It took the Catholic Church almost 400 years to admit Galileo was right, almost 20 years after the Apollo missions.

On the other hand, if science is so weak as to change drasticly every few months, then explain how your monitor works when it's based on a century-old theory like relativity. If Einstein was completely off-the-mark, then the electrons in your cathode ray tube would really be travelling faster than light, the formulas the monitor's manufacturer used to make your monitor would all be off, the circuitry would be aiming electrons at the wrong pixels, and you wouldn't have your precious 1600x1200 resolution.

And that's before we start talking about how old the electron theory that allows your computer to work is. If 150+ year-old theory that says electricity is delivered in particles is all wrong, then transistors and even diodes shouldn't work. So much for the internet. I hope you know how to use a sliderule...

But, hey, if you think science is all bunk, that's your perrogative. Just don't try to force your "If it's in the book, it must be right" POV on the rest of us. And try not to be such a hipocrite about it next time.

But... (1)

Punikki (413668) | more than 13 years ago | (#316009)

will this information ever help mankind get of this crummy planet?

Re:Ho hum (1)

GearheadX (414240) | more than 13 years ago | (#316010)

Please, let's not get into a holywar here?

We're all in theory mature enough to get along without making complete twits of ourselves, ne?

Berk Watkins

unknown factor solutions (1)

saxwell (414487) | more than 13 years ago | (#316011)

Surely everyone must remember `dark matter'. I held my breath over MACHOS and WIMPS... that is until the Hubble telescope was up and running properly, and thousands upon thousands of previously undiscovered galaxies were observed. This new data explained the `mising mass' of the universe much better than the Dark Matter theory ever did. Obviously this situation isn't identical, but still I think any `unknown factor' solution to scientific problems should be avoided... surely there's a more down to earth solution to this problem, which we just haven't come across the evidence for yet?

Re:unknown factor solutions (2)

saxwell (414487) | more than 13 years ago | (#316012)

that isn't really the point, though is it. the point is that any theory which leads us towards a `mysterious unknown force' should be treated sceptically, as it reeks of a lack of data.

Re:But haven't they decided it was flat? (1)

murk1e (415071) | more than 13 years ago | (#316013)

Closed = expands up to a certain point, then contracts

That's fine...

Open = expands forever

So's that....

Flat = reaches a ceratin size then stops expanding but stays that size forever

Not so. It expands forever but with a speed asympotically approaching zero (and a size asymptotically approaching a maximum). I know I'm being pedantic.... what the hell.

Oh, for anyone who is wondering: Yes, you can have a finite size without an edge. For ease of thought, consider a 2 dimensional example. Imagine a rubber sheet (ah, good ol' rubber sheets... what would cosmologists or incontinent physicists do without 'em?. Shape it into a balloon. This has no boundary, but it's surface can expand.

Back to the point. One of the articles (Chronicle?) said:

By measuring the supernova's red shift, the Berkeley astronomers determined that it is as far away -- and as bright -- as it should be if one assumes that it existed at a time when the cosmos was decelerating under gravitational tug, soon after the Big Bang.

The key here is that they used the red shift to give distance. This relies upon Hubble's constant, Hubbles constant has HUGE errors on it (of the order of 60% if I recall.....

Therefore, I'd like to see a more detailed explanation of how a supernova of an unusual luminosity implies that Einstein's stab in the dark (the Cosmological Constant) was not such a blind guess...

... after all, it's nice that he was wrong from time to time. At least we still have the Einsteinian reliance upon hidden variables to show us that he was fallable.

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