Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Shot in the Dark, 01.18.12

How do you look for something if you do not know what to look for? This is a challenge being laughed in the face by scientists at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics in Chicago. The team there will be spending the next five years trying to answer some of the biggest questions about the three main problems in astronomy: dark energy, dark matter, and cosmic inflation.
Why try to find out about these things, you ask? Well, based on a dizzying amount of calculations done by astronomers and other scientists through the decades, it was determined that there is a lot more “stuff” in outer space than what can be seen. What is more, some of those scientists have a sneaking suspicion that the sleuths they are looking for do “not consist of quarks, neutrons, or protons.” A little review here: neutrons and protons are both parts of atoms, and quarks are the things that make up the parts of atoms. Basically, the scientists were looking for things so small that they could not be seen with the naked eye, but now they are beginning to think that their best guesses were not on track anyway.
Astronomers also know the Big Bang Theory leaves something to be desired as it has no answer for cosmic inflation. So, hopefully getting some more answers could even change what astronomers think about the Big Bang Theory itself.
So, when someone does find the answer, rest assured it will be something never before seen in history.
Information credit: The University of Chicago.
Read more about quarks: The Particle Adventure.
Want to talk with us about discoveries like this? Be sure to come to our MARCH 20th Astronomy Series show in the Wetherbee Planetarium.

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