Maikalani Lecture: Dark energy and the Runaway Universe

June 23, 2010, 11:50 PM HST · Updated June 25, 8:14 AM
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Dark energy and a runaway universe will be the topic of a lecture on Thursday, June 24, 2010 lecture at the Maikalani UH Institute for Astronomy on Maui.  Dr. Alex Filippenko will navigate this topic, exploring observations of distant exploding stars, and discussing the origin of dark energy—an area some researchers believe could provide clues to a unified quantum theory of gravity. 

The event is free and open to the public, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the advanced technology research center located behind Long’s in Pukalani.   

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.  In 1917, Einstein suggested that over the largest distances, the Universe seems to be dominated by a repulsive “dark energy”, an idea he renounced a dozen years later, 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.

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