Plus Blog

July 29, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dark energy — the debate continues...

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!"

James Darcy reported on the Big Questions debate in his physicsworld blog, and in a followup post published a clarification from Sarkar on some of the details.

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..

posted by Plus @ 2:00 PM


At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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".

July 24, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009

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.


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posted by Plus @ 11:42 AM


July 23, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009

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...

Listen to the podcast.

If this has whetted your appetite for astronomy, then why not take part in our online poll to nominate the next question we'll put to the experts.

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posted by Plus @ 2:21 PM


July 22, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New simulations reveal that turbulence created by jets of material ejected from the Universe's largest black holes can stop stars from forming.



posted by Plus @ 10:25 AM


July 22, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

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 poll!

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.

The most popular questions in the first two polls were What happened before the Big Bang? and Are the constants of nature really constant?. Read the answers by clicking on the links, and discuss them on our blog. The third poll came up with the question "What are dark energy and dark matter?" and we will publish the answer on Plus shortly.


posted by Plus @ 1:22 PM


At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A topic that I would like covered are the different black holes and how they formed:
- mega black hole
- stella black hole
- micro black hole
- others ....

July 21, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gettin' funky with da fractals

Summer is the season for music festivals, and why not take in some science between acts by visiting the Guerilla Science tent at the Secret Garden Party this weekend. Plus was particularly tempted by dancing with fractals on Thursday 23rd with Impossible Objects, catching rays with Helen Mason on Friday 24th, hunting for Higgs with John Butterworth and searching for symmetry with Ben Allanach on Saturday 25th, and the Beatbox laboratory on Sunday 26th July.

Find out more about Guerilla Science at the Secret Garden Party on their website, and find out about Our dynamic sun from Helen Mason and Particle hunting at the LHC from Ben Allanach on Plus. And check out the Guerilla Science Freestyle featuring Ben!

posted by Plus @ 1:29 PM


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