While driving back from Philadelphia to northern NJ today, I listened to recent podcasts of two of my favorite radio shows: NPR’s Science Friday and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. On both programs, astrophysicist Adam Riess, one of two Americans (the other being Saul Perlmutter) to win the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics, was the guest. The award was based on the 1998 discovery that the Universe is expanding at an accelerated rate, which might be accounted for by some unknown energy force called, for now, dark energy. Albert Einstein had hypothesized such a force and then called it his greatest blunder. He may have been right all along. What this means in layman’s terms is that the Universe will just continue expanding forever with little likelihood that it will ever contract to create another big bang.
Philosophically, the thought that the Universe will never contract is very disturbing to me. Continue Reading