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Surprising Science

Scientists Clock the Expanding Universe

Scientists have made the most accurate measurements yet of how quickly our Universe is expanding. Since gravitational pull gave way to dark energy, the rate is increasing.

What’s the Latest Development?

Scientists have made the most accurate measurements to date concerning how fast our Universe is expanding. Using the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, researchers at Berkeley University have calculated what the dimensions of our Universe were five to seven billion years ago. Using today’s dimensions as a benchmarck, they can understand at what rate everything is pulling apart from each other. The astronomers measured about half the distance to the big bang, a point where they think the gravitational pull between objects began to give way to dark energy. 

What’s the Big Idea?

For a time, the expansion of our Universe was slowing down due to the gravitational attraction between large objects like stars and galaxies. At some point, however, acceleration began to increase–a discovery announced just 14 years ago–creating an unforeseen exception to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. In response, scientists positted dark energy, the mysterious force which is causing the accelerated expansion. But is it possible that Einstein’s vision of gravity was simply incomplete–or wrong? After measuring gravity on a scale of 100 million light years, far larger than the most accurate gravity measure yet, Berkeley researchers have concluded that Einstein was right. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


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