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Cosmic Speed-Up Nabs Nobel Prize
ScienceNOW ^ | 4 October 2011 | Adrian Cho

Posted on 10/07/2011 9:35:53 PM PDT by neverdem

Enlarge Image
sn-Nobel-physics.jpg
Star power. Saul Perlmutter (left), Brian Schmidt (center), and Adam Riess share this year's Nobel Prize in physics.
Credit: LBNL, ANU, JHU

Thirteen years ago, two teams of astronomers and physicists independently made the same stark discovery: Not only is the universe expanding like a vast inflating balloon, but its expansion is speeding up. At the time, many scientists expected that the gravitational pull of the galaxies ought to slow down the expansion. Today, researchers from both teams shared the Nobel Prize in physics for that dramatic observation, which has changed the conceptual landscape in cosmology, astronomy, and particle physics.

Half of the $1.45 million prize will go to Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, who led the Supernova Cosmology Project. The other half will be shared by Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University in Weston Creek, who led the High-z Supernova Search Team, and Adam Riess of Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, who worked on High-z. "I'm really happy for them," says Yannick Mellier of the Institute for Astrophysics of Paris. "It's a huge discovery that has impact in all of physics."

Both teams traced the expansion of the universe back through time using stellar explosions called type Ia supernovae. Because all such supernovae explode with essentially the same brightness, astronomers can use them as "standard candles": They can tell how far away a supernova is by measuring its apparent brightness from Earth. They can also tell how long ago the stellar bomb went off by measuring how much its light has been stretched to longer, redder wavelengths by the expansion of space. Using different supernovae, both teams found that the expansion of the universe was accelerating. "We thought we must be making some mistake," Schmidt says. "But the mistake refused to go away."

Other evidence soon bolstered the case for the accelerating expansion and some sort of "dark energy" to power it. A few years later, measurements of the afterglow of the big bang—the so-called cosmic microwave background—indicated that 70% of the stuff in the universe had to be dark energy. Studies of clusters of galaxies show that their growth has slowed over the 14-billion-year age of the universe, as if space-stretching dark energy were impeding it.

Cosmologists, astrophysicists, and particle physicists must still explain what "dark energy" is. Much effort focuses on how the density of dark energy changes as space expands. If dark energy is an inherent part of space, the density should remain constant. If dark energy is something in space, then it should become more dilute. The question comes down to using further astronomical observations to determine whether a single parameter in the cosmological "equation of state" is exactly -1, indicating dark energy is part of space, or something like -0.93, indicating that dark energy is something in space. Currently, the value of this parameter is consistent with -1 with an uncertainty of about 10%.

Will scientists ever know what dark energy is? "That's not a sure thing," says Simon White of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany. "The problem is that you can't prove by observations that a parameter is exactly minus one."

Each team comprised about 20 scientists. "This is another example of what a shame it is that the Nobels can't recognize teams," says Martin Rees of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. "It sends the wrong signal." White notes that Robert Kirshner of Harvard University was the thesis adviser of Schmidt and Riess and got them started on the prizewinning project.

With reporting by Daniel Clery.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: adamriess; astronomy; brianschmidt; cosmology; particlephysics; physics; saulperlmutter; stringtheory

1 posted on 10/07/2011 9:35:56 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

All they have to do is interview Helen Thomas...


2 posted on 10/07/2011 9:57:03 PM PDT by wastedyears (Attaaack Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatch)
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To: SunkenCiv

ping


3 posted on 10/07/2011 10:02:08 PM PDT by Captain Beyond (The Hammer of the gods! (Just a cool line from a Led Zep song))
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To: neverdem

So the universe is going to hell faster than we thought.


4 posted on 10/07/2011 10:09:54 PM PDT by Reddon
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To: Reddon

Discovery of cosmic handbasket yields team Nobel prize...


5 posted on 10/07/2011 10:27:34 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: neverdem
"The problem is that you can't prove by observations that a parameter is exactly minus one."

The beginning of wisdom is being able to make intelligent statements like this.

6 posted on 10/07/2011 10:52:10 PM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: neverdem

The elephant in the room IS.....
The Universe is Expanding into WHAT?... i.e. something bigger?..

Note: You buy them books they eat the pages..


7 posted on 10/08/2011 3:33:45 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: hosepipe

It doesn’t really matter what it’s expanding into. It’s a conceptual framework. A trick of open versus closed spaces, in a mathematical sense.

The entire concept of gravity as something that “pulls” mass together is being shown to be wrong. Backwards.

Empty space as we seem to know it is actually the most dense part of the universe. It’s compacted and compressed, under enormous pressure,

What we call “mass” is the least dense part. It gets pushed together (or better said towards each other) by the “empty” space.

Just like bubbles rising in a beer. It’s a kind of surface tension in three dimensions.

Sakharov was right.

The big bang didn’t “happen”. The big bang is happening.


8 posted on 10/08/2011 3:48:33 AM PDT by djf (Soon you will need a prescription for EVERY SINGLE VITAMIN.)
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To: djf
The big bang didn’t “happen”. The big bang is happening.

So how can they say with any certainty that at at some point the expansion of the universe won't slow and reverse, and then the universe collapse back in on itself?
9 posted on 10/08/2011 3:58:08 AM PDT by rottndog (Be Prepared for what's coming AFTER America....)
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To: rottndog

Take a saucepan or like a pressure cooker that you can seal.

Just for the hey of it, make it a clear one you can see through. Fill it halfway with water.

Put it on the stove. It will start to boil, but all the “air” above it will still seem clear. It is normal air but with alot of water vapor mixed in, under huge pressure.

Now release the spigot.

You will see a huge cloud of steam emerge. stuff which seems solid but is really just stuff that condensed out of something way more dense.

That’s what mass is. We are the “steam” of the big bang. And the expansion will continue forever. We can never gather up a;; the vapor and compress it back down, realize we are not talking truly about water vapor, we are talking the fundamental stuff that matter is made of.

I came up with equations in the early 90’s that predicted:

The mass of the universe is increasing linearly with the time
The volume of the universe is increasing in a cubic relation to the time
So
All we know is getting bigger, but really evaporating before our eyes

And the numbers I was working with at the time predicted that the “age” (if you can define it that way) of the universe was 18 billion years, with an average density of about one proton mass per 10,000 cubic centimeters.

But I might be wrong.


10 posted on 10/08/2011 4:22:45 AM PDT by djf (Soon you will need a prescription for EVERY SINGLE VITAMIN.)
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To: djf

[ The big bang didn’t “happen”. The big bang is happening. ]

IF eternity future is possible, why not, eternity PAST?....
Linear time may be a limited concept..
i.e. in the box thinking..


11 posted on 10/08/2011 4:26:37 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: hosepipe

The question of whether time is eternal or ending is the same question as to whether the universe is straight or curved.

Zeno’s paradox.

Walk halfway to your mailbox. It will take time.
From there, walk half the distance again. It will take more time.
Keep going.
It will take forever.

Whether the universe is finite (closed and curved) versus whether it is infinite (open and flat) is a question that has no mathematical meaning because straight lines in curved space turn out to be exactly mathematically equivalent to curved lines in straight space.


12 posted on 10/08/2011 4:39:19 AM PDT by djf (Soon you will need a prescription for EVERY SINGLE VITAMIN.)
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To: rottndog

If the expansion is accelerating, what happens when it
reaches 186,214(?) miles/second???


13 posted on 10/08/2011 4:44:38 AM PDT by cliff630
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To: djf

Ok...I get that part...but doesn’t that presuppose a static amount of mass?


14 posted on 10/08/2011 4:52:17 AM PDT by rottndog (Be Prepared for what's coming AFTER America....)
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To: cliff630
If the expansion is accelerating, what happens when it reaches 186,214(?) miles/second???


It goes to....PLAID!
15 posted on 10/08/2011 4:56:07 AM PDT by rottndog (Be Prepared for what's coming AFTER America....)
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To: rottndog

OK, I’ll byte {sic} what does PLAID stand for??


16 posted on 10/08/2011 4:59:24 AM PDT by cliff630
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To: cliff630



17 posted on 10/08/2011 5:10:38 AM PDT by rottndog (Be Prepared for what's coming AFTER America....)
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To: rottndog
Hmmn, might be;

I thought it went poof, and started all over again with a big bang,

PLAID, Please Look Ahead, Imminent Destruction

BTW, what's the little red X in the box?

I marvel how quickly one can pull up a relevant picture, unless, of course, you had the picture and was waiting for an opportunity to use it. Happy to oblige.

18 posted on 10/08/2011 5:35:35 AM PDT by cliff630
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To: djf; hosepipe
Zeno’s paradox.

Walk halfway to your mailbox. It will take time.
From there, walk half the distance again. It will take more time.
Keep going.
It will take forever.


If you're content to travel only halfway. Zeno's Paradox is fun because it seems as though it has substance. In reality, one's rate of walking doesn't change in proportion to the distance remaining to be traversed. If rate is held constant, then each half of the remaining distance is passed with increasing rapidity to the point that the destination is reached when it takes no more time at that rate to cover a distance that no longer remains. That is, as the distance remaining approaches zero, the time required to traverse it approaches zero.

Besides, any distance or subdivision of any distance actually traversed has a halfway point that is always being approached, surpassed, and doubled in a finite amount of time. So, as soon as one moves, one has already, in a finite amount of time, reached some point that could have been chosen to be Zeno's unreachable destination. Given sufficient time and traversing distance at a fixed rate, any distance (that is, an actual distance, as well as any point defined as half of that distance) can be crossed, Zeno notwithstanding.


19 posted on 10/08/2011 5:36:23 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: djf

Soooo you don’t know either!?...


20 posted on 10/08/2011 5:38:44 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: djf
Lots of questions about your theory. It has long been considered a reliable law that energy (including the energy equivalent of mass) is conserved. If mass is increasing, does energy decrease by an equivalent amount? Also, I thought Einstein demonstrated that gravity was caused by distortion of space-time, rather than being a "force." How does your theory deal with that?

Incidentally, I've always been puzzled by Einstein's apparent assertion that gravity was not really a force, because modern physicists treat it as a force and look for its "force carrier" particle, the graviton.

21 posted on 10/08/2011 5:59:00 AM PDT by hellbender
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To: Captain Beyond; AdmSmith; bvw; callisto; ckilmer; dandelion; ganeshpuri89; gobucks; KevinDavis; ...

Thanks Captain Beyond.


· String Theory Ping List ·
Bitch Slap, nope, Newton, Third Law
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22 posted on 10/08/2011 8:23:06 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv

We have no empirical evidence measuring the behavior of light waves over large distances and time. If it takes ten billion years for the effect to occur, it might be too small for us to currently measure. Our theories are incomplete, this much is known. If our expansion is to continually increase, our time will slow down, our mass will increase and the rest of the Universe will be essentially accelerated black holes. If it is actual speed we are measuring.


23 posted on 10/09/2011 1:23:16 PM PDT by allmost
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To: allmost

If we were already inside an event horizon, it would explain a lot of what is observed (lensing, the “wall of galaxies”, etc). :’)


24 posted on 10/09/2011 5:13:07 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv

We lose either way.


25 posted on 10/09/2011 6:51:15 PM PDT by allmost
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To: djf
Empty space as we seem to know it is actually the most dense part of the universe. It’s compacted and compressed, under enormous pressure,

I'm curious about this...if 'empty space' is compacted and compressed, it isn't really empty then...is it? IOW, what has been compacted and compressed?
26 posted on 10/09/2011 8:42:49 PM PDT by rottndog (Be Prepared for what's coming AFTER America....)
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To: rottndog

It’s the background quantum field.

It was never compressed by anything else, it’s a phenomena due to the emergence of the particles.

Just like popcorn becomes “compressed” in the bag if it’s in the microwave. As the bag fills, it becomes more and more “compressed”.

The same way the popcorn expands the bag, the quantum field “compresses” the universe and “poofs it up”.

It’s just a continuation of the big bang, which is still going on.

If you use the Planck units to compute the density of the universe it works out to like ten with 109 zeros after it, grams per cubic centimeter.


27 posted on 10/09/2011 9:38:49 PM PDT by djf (Soon you will need a prescription for EVERY SINGLE VITAMIN.)
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