As discussed in our recent article Lambda marks the spot — the biggest problem in theoretical physics, dark energy and the cosmological constant remains a controversial area that lies at the very edges of our understanding of the Universe. One of the contributors to that article, Subir Sarkar from the University of Oxford, recently took part in the Big Questions debate series at Imperial College in London, debating the fate of the Universe with Andrew Jaffe from Imperial. Jaffe argued for the existence of dark
energy, while Subir argued that it was an artifact of the oversimplified cosmological model used to interpret observations. At the end of the debate, the audience was asked to vote on whether they thought dark energy exists, and Subir told us: "Given that I was attacking the standard cosmological model, it was a pleasant surprise when the audience voted decisively in my favour!"
Plus readers, always seeking an informed debate, voted to ask the experts "What is dark energy and dark matter?" in our last IYA09 poll. We'll be recording the answer to that question soon, so stay tuned. And once everyone has had a chance to hear both sides of the argument we'll open the debate on the Plus blog by asking you to vote on
whether you think dark energy exists. Will Sarkar win the argument again? We'll have to wait and see..
Labelling something you know almost nothing about always struck me as unhelpful and overly possessive-
man- "how does the mind work?"
scientist- "well it works by using sausageBaffle"
man- "what is sausageBaffle?"
scientist- "we don't know yet, but sausageBaffle is certainly the reason".
The media is buzzing with swine flu numbers. Latest government figures say that over 100,000 people in England came down with swine flu during the last week — that's almost twice the amount of the previous week, and up to five times higher than the seasonal flu figures recorded last winter. Twenty-six people in England have died of the disease.
But where do the numbers come from? Patients with swine flu symptoms are no longer tested in the lab or traced, so the published figures are estimates, rather than absolute numbers.
As part of our celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 we brought you the article Are the constants of nature really constant?, in which John D. Barrow tells us how it all depends on which constants you choose. In the podcast of this interview you can hear how changes in the constants that define our
Universe might have implications for extra dimensions, gravity, and climbing flies...
What would you like to know about your Universe — The fourth online poll
This poll is now closed. The most popular question was: "How does gravity work?" You can read the answer on Plus, or listen to the podcast. Thank you for taking part and don't forget to vote in the current
This is the fourth online poll in our series to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Choose your favourite question from the list on the right, and we'll put the one that proves most popular to world-leading astronomers and cosmologists, including Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and author and cosmologist John D. Barrow. The poll will
remain open for a month and the answer will be published in a Plus article and podcast soon after. If your most burning question is not on this list, then leave a comment on this blog and we'll endeavour to include it in a future poll — there will be three more polls dotted throughout the year.