published Friday, October 7th, 2011

Is our universe growing faster?

Many of us feel our lives are too fast and hectic in many respects these days -- and that it's only getting worse, as we rush from one commitment to another.

But three American-born scientists have conducted research suggesting that our whole universe is speeding up -- or at least that it is expanding at a growing rate. And for their work to demonstrate that, they have been honored as winners of the Nobel Prize in physics.

The scientists are Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess.

Scientists previously theorized that the growth of the universe is actually slowing, but the Nobel Prize winners hold the view that that expansion is moving faster than before.

How did they conclude that?

Well, part of their method was to analyze light from dozens of exploding stars, called supernovas. The light from the supernovas was not as strong as expected, so the scientists think the universe's expansion is accelerating.

What does that mean for us today, in 2011?

Well, for the near future it doesn't necessarily have great significance for mankind. Hundreds of billions of years in the future, however, other galaxies may be so far from ours that their light won't be visible from here.

But who knows? Perhaps by then, space travel will be so fast and efficient that traveling to a distant galaxy will be like traveling from Chattanooga to Nashville.

Ah, science!

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