Physics at Virginia

"Supernovae, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe"

Saul Perlmutter , University of California - Berkeley
[Host: Brad Cox]

This constant acted as a sort of anti-gravity to counteract the force of gravity that would otherwise be pulling the masses of the universe together. When astronomers such as Hubble and others subsequently observed the red shifts of far distant stars and galaxies, they discovered that the universe is not static but, indeed, is expanding. Therefore, it no longer seemed necessary to have a counter balance to gravity. It is said that Einstein, when he heard of the expansion of the universe, characterized his use of a cosmological constant his greatest mistake. Indeed, for the better part of 100 years the standard view of the universe was that its expansion rate was gradually slowing down under the influence of the gravity of its components. The question of the future of the universe was posed in terms of, depending on the total mass of the universe, whether the universe would come to a stop and fall back in on itself, come to a halt at infinite time, or continue to expand forever. Professor Perlmutter and his colleagues, using Supernovas Type Ia as “standard candles” because of their great brightness, have measured the expansion rate of the universe at much large distances than previously possible. In doing so, they have made the remarkable discovery that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating. There appears to be a previously undetected force of nature that acts like antigravity, dominating the gravitational force and causing the universe to expand faster and faster with time. So the better part of a century after the cosmological constant was abandoned, it seems that it must be re-employed to describe this new phenomenon which has been labeled dark energy. Perhaps Einstein was right after all!

Nuclear Physics Seminar
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
7:30 PM
Chemistry Building Auditorium, Room 402
Note special time.
Note special room.

Hoxton Lecture

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