Origins of the Universe - Dark Matter: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Mar 22, 2004
Scientist: Dr. John E. Carlstrom

Origins of the Universe - Dark Matter

Origins of the Universe - Dark Matter
Almost 90% of the entire universe is matter which cannot be seen, and it is accompanied by unexplained dark energy.

Origins of the Universe - Dark Matter


By studying microwave radiation from space, astronomers are making new discoveries about what the universe is made of. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Astronomer John Carlstrom is a professor at the University of Chicago. He says that for some time, astronomers have suspected there's more to the universe than meets the eye.

"We've known for several decades that there is a so-called dark matter. We didn't know if it was some exotic new form of matter. But we knew that it was accounted for about eight times more of the matter out there than we could see. These experiments, showed us that yes, it's some new form of matter."

This dark matter is apparently accompanied by dark energy which has been identified but not explained and which appears to be the force behind the constant acceleration and expansion of our universe. But we don't yet understand the dynamics of this new form of energy.

"The universe seems to not be slowing down, which is what you'd expect if you have a lot of matter and gravity trying to pull it together, but in fact seems to be accelerating. And to me, this is probably the most exciting discovery in the century, that there is some form of energy density in the universe. Physics has no explanation for it. It's causing the universe to accelerate, probably much like this initial burst of inflation from the very, very early universe and it's out there. We want to now go out there and find out just what this stuff is. And it's most of the universe."

To hear about our CD, please visit Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.