University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

MN Institute for Astrophysics Journal Club

Thursday, May 7th 2009
7:00 pm:
Karlis Kaufmanis Public Lecture in Bell Museum Auditorium
Speaker: Alex Filippenko, University of California, Berkeley
Subject: Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe

Observations of very distant exploding stars (supernovae) show that the expansion of the Universe is now speeding up, rather than slowing down due to gravity as expected. Other, completely independent data strongly support this amazing conclusion. Over the largest distances, our Universe seems to be dominated by a repulsive "dark energy" --- an idea Einstein had suggested in 1917, but renounced in 1929, anecdotally as his "biggest blunder." Dark energy stretches the very fabric of space itself faster and faster with time. But the physical origin of dark energy is unknown, and is often considered to be the most important unsolved problem in physics; it probably provides clues to a unified quantum theory of gravity.

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