The sky and the space beyond have always been a magnificent spectacle for the astronomers and the ordinary amateur night sky watchers, taking everybody by surprise alike, with awe-inspiring facts and unsolved mysteries.
Our quest to understand this vast swathe of mystified dark space has been everlasting frequented with a number of challenges that ask for more scientifically advanced tools and techniques and even an understanding that revisits our fundamental ideas, which we have studied so far about the heavens.
The studies of such heavenly bodies and the related science is so volatile that any landmark discovery of the past could be proven wrong, with a new evidence, which will make us reconstruct all the theories befitting the latter one.
Do not conclude that there are no such instances, where we have completely understood the most fundamental concepts of the particle physics that can strongly weather any new proofs to the contrary of our up-to-date understanding.
In other words, even our basic understanding of the fundamental concepts in particle physics is not so promising; we are not so sure about them that they can bring shock waves to our discoveries and give way to a new horizon in our pursuit of the eternal truth.
The fallible basics
Leptons and Quarks
The most basic building blocks of the matter around us including everything from a pin to the millions of galaxies are leptons and quarks. They combine together in a particular fashion to form the atoms that in turn constitute the matter around us. This way, it is roughly estimated that there are 10 to the power of 80 (10 ^ 80) atoms in the universe; that is a ten followed by 80 zeroes.
So far, more than 200 sub-atomic particles have been discovered, of which not everything is the basic form of matter, but they are further made of simpler particles, called the quarks and leptons. Thus, these two are the very basic building block of everything around us, which is the universe. That simple? It is just the beginning of a much more complex mystery.
The Dark Matter & The Dark Energy
There are two incomprehensible, puzzling events that are happening right now, which is studied by many experiments across the globe by renowned physicists to find the non-existential.
Firstly, if we sum up the matter defined above that is present across the universe, it accounts only to 4.9% of the total matter known as the visible matter.
Where is the remaining matter missing? What are they? This remaining 95.1% of the matter is invisible; doesn’t emit or absorb light, heat, electromagnetic radiation making it one of the most elusive mysteries looming the heads of the brightest physicists. This is called as the dark matter, as we have no clue of it as of now.
Secondly, as per the most widely accepted Big Bang theory, the universe is expanding, but the rate of expansion should reduce due to the gravitational pull. In other words, as the force of gravity is attractive in nature, it should stop the universe from expanding.
But when the stars in the most distant galaxies were observed, they were moving faster away from us and hence the accelerating rate of expansion is increasing, contrary to our previously held belief.
Thus, there is some unidentified mysterious energy that drives the galaxies farther away from us escaping the force of gravity. This is termed as the dark energy, for the same obvious reason. No clue!
Einstein called it ‘the biggest blunder’
When Sir Einstein included a constant, known as cosmological constant (denoted by the Greek capital letter lambda) in his equations, he meant to denote a force or energy that counteracts the force of gravity that made the universe static, but not expanding, as you know Einstein believed in a static universe.
In 1929, when Sir Edwin Hubble found evidence that the universe is expanding as per the Big Bang model, Einstein called the cosmological constant -an entity he added to his equations to prove a static universe- the biggest blunder in my career
Now, scientists have realized that what Sir Einstein included as a cosmological constant is the factor that denotes the mysterious dark energy that is yet to be unravelled by the physical science.
According to the standard model of cosmology, it is predicted that out of the 95.1% missing matter, dark matter constitutes 26.8% and the remaining 68.3%, dark energy, which Sir Einstein regretted as his blunder.
There are no lesser astonishing and breathtaking events or facts filled up in the universe we live in. The more detailed and inquisitive we become, the more puzzling it becomes, making our search for the truth a very long one. Hope persists that answers would be one day found.
With the presence of dark matter and dark energy, it can be understood that what is not seen or invisible can be very much vital in helping us find the reality. Not just what is seen matters the most, but also the unseen. Now we have just known, for sure there is something!
Image Source: National Geographic