Did you know the universe is constantly expanding and accelerating at a pace that will leave the cosmos frozen, dark, and lonely? Well most of the scientific world did not, until three U.S.-born scientists demonstrated as much in the 1990s. This morning, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in physics to Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess who will share a $1.5 million award for their breakthrough research. According to the Associated Press, the trio "found that the light from more than 50 distant exploding stars was far weaker than they expected, meaning that galaxies had to be racing away from each other at increasing speed." The force driving this breakneck speed is called dark energy, "a cosmic force that is one of the great mysteries of the universe."
The end result of the rapid expansion and acceleration is a very scary, sci-fi dystopia-type world.
The Nobel-winning discovery implies instead that the universe will get increasingly colder as matter spreads across ever-vaster distances in space, said Lars Bergstrom, secretary of the Nobel physics committee.
He said galaxies that are 3 million light years away from Earth move at a speed of around 44 miles per second (70 kilometers per second). Galaxies that are 6 million light years away move twice as fast.
The research implies that billions of years from now, the universe will become "a very, very large, but very cold and lonely place," said Charles Blue, spokesman for the American Institute of Physics.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.