Dark energy physicists nab Nobel Prize for Physics

first_imgNo, not that kind of dark energy.Dark energy is a mysterious phenomenon in the study of the physical universe. Its theoretical existence has been bandied about for years, with little understanding of what it actually is. But three astronomers who made the study of dark matter their lives’ missions have helped to shed some light on the mysterious darkness. As a result, they have snagged the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics.Dark energy refers to a curious phenomenon. Scientists know that the universe is expanding. That has been well-documented for years. But the part that left many scratching their heads was that this expansion is actually picking up in pace. The idea is that something must be making it do that. While it still isn’t known exactly what the force is that causes this acceleration, dark energy is the term that scientists use to describe it.Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt, and Adam Riess, all astronomers, have spent years collecting data, attempting to document and understand the concept of dark energy. They were the first astronomers to observe the increasing expansion of the universe over 20 years ago, when the light from distant supernova were weaker than expected.After coming to the conclusion that this meant the universe was expanding faster, they took it upon themselves to largely carry the torch in the continued study of dark energy since then. It is now thought that dark energy makes up about 75% of the universe. 21% is supposed to be dark matter, with the rest being ordinary matter.In presenting the Nobel Prize to the group, the Academy stated that their work has “helped to unveil a universe that to a large extent is unknown to science. And everything is possible again.”Shaking us out of our collective delusion that we understand everything there is to understand about the universe? I’d say that’s worth a Nobel Prize, for sure.via Physics World and Discover Magazinelast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *