Saturday, December 03, 2005

Dark Energy, should we worry?

It was recently confirmed by more accurate measurements that a phenomenon described as "dark energy", first observed a couple of years ago, is affecting gravity in such a way that it accelerates the expansion of the universe. This newly discovered expansion "effect" has galaxies racing away from each other at rates much faster than previously determined.
For a while now cosmologists took it for granted that the universe would end in one of two ways.
The "Big Chill" has the universe expanding forever. A dark and cold destiny as the stars would gradually disappear from the visible plane and matter itself would disintegrate and drift apart into ever more minute components.
The "Big Crunch" has the universe expand to a critical point and then implode into what can only be described as a super dense accumulation of "all that ever was".
Take your pick.
Gravity sucks, at least that is what Einstein's theory of relativity tells us. Energy and matter (stuff) creates gravity. The more stuff, the more gravity lets itself be known. If there is a small amount of stuff in the universe, there may be just enough to keep the expansion going endlessly resulting in the big chill. If, however, there is a lot of stuff,in other words, a lot of gravity, the expansion may cease and the process is reversed into a big crunch.
Now comes this dark gravity to instill another dimension of doom and gloom. Should this news disturb us in some way or should it merely be a curious scientific point of interest?
It does spark a hint of sadness, though. I guess the sadness is really the acknowledgment of mortality. Not our own but for the world.
Hey, but cheer up! We're talking BILLIONS of years here, so "break out the booze and have a ball. If that's all there is."
Yet, after all is said and done, there is another aspect to all this that is to be considered. This aspect depends on how we view our very own existence and our belief (or lack of it) in a creator. Belief in a creator does tend to change everything.


Dr Kuha said...

In any event, the human race will probably be extinct by the time the Big Chill gets really into full swing. I give us another 1,000 years if we don't change our ways, and another million or so if we do.

roman said...

dr kuha,
You're probably right. Judging by some of the bad choices mankind has made up to this point, there is little chance of longevity. The only chance of survivability in the future is an exodus made possible by space travel technology. Until we can free ourselves from the confines of this world, mankind will remain at a high risk of extinction.

Marcy said...

I personally think humans will fuck stuff up untill large numbers of people die and then we'll be left with a small population that will be able to find its way and "regroup" so to speak, and the cycle will continue again. Perhaps not the same one, since we've used up many if not all of the 'easy" energy sources that were available to mankind from the beginning, but the boom and bust cycle of populations-- you expand untill your resources can't withhold that population anymore and it shrinks, then when times are good again the population expands once more and so on.

As for the galaxy and our own little planet... We all know it will have an end someday. Whether it is from the universe imploding or expanding, or from our sun dying out on us, one day we will all turn to dust again. But chances are not any us, nor our children, nor our childrens' children, will see any of that happening. These discoveries in the universe are something to observe, but there's no use worrying about something that you have absolutely no power or control over.

roman said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.
I suspect that the cyclical nature of life, as you describe, has been a reliable constant for eons. What I find interesting is that mankind has evolved technologically so fast during just the last 3000 years. If you compare this short time span against millions of years, the cycle must have repeated itself a lot. When archeologists find primitive tools and pottery going back to the stone age, one can infer that mankind has never advanced to anywhere near the present level of cultural sophistication and scientific discovery before.
The fact is, however, that we now have the ability to make ourselves extinct by possessing the knowledge to do so. We made it through the Cold War without a thermo-nuclear exchange so we have been lucky so far. With the issue of religious extremism and availability of WMD and tinkering with the basic structure of matter itself (nano tech) I don't know how much longer our luck will hold out. I would like to think that as each of the cycles repeat, mankind "learns" from its mistakes.
This, unfortunately, has not been the case.

9:36 AM

Vman said...

An asteroid has a three percent chance of hitting the earth in 2020, i think we should be worrying about that more.

roman said...

Yes, I would say that an asteroid in 2020 is a more imminent threat.
I do think, however, that 3% is a pretty low possibility.
An optimistic point of view would be that there is a 97% chance it will not hit the earth. In any event, there is no sense worrying about it. If this asteroid is big enough, there is not a hell of a lot we can do about it given it arives in 15 years.
Don't buy any 20 or 30 year treasury bonds, however.

Fahd Mirza said...

uptill now, I considered concept like dark energy and dark matter just hypothetical. But now I have second thoughts.

Note: Dark matter is hypothetical matter particles, of unknown composition.

zombi_king said...

i find it advisable to treat everything as if it were a hypothetical matter particle of unknown composition.

roman said...

Fahd Mirza,
You are correct, it is still just a hypothetical, although the
"effect" is real and is measurable.

roman said...

Thanks for stopping by my site.
That is an excellent technique for keeping an open mind.
Or is it? I'll defer a conclusion for further investigation.