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Fr. Alexander

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Orthodox Christian Priest

  • What is the Universe made of...?

    We often think that all of big questions in science have been answered.... food for thought below...

    Astronomers scouring the heavens with powerful telescopes can see objects that are billions of trillions of miles away. These observations have proven essential to piecing together a fairly refined picture of the history and evolution of the cosmos. Nevertheless, a gaping hole remains in our understanding of a basic question: What is the universe made of? For more than 100 years we’ve known about atoms, and over the past century or so we’ve gone further and identified atomic constituents like electrons and quarks, as well as their exotic cousins - neutrinos, muons, and the like. But there is now convincing evidence that these ingredients are a cosmic afterthought. Current data shows that if you weighed everything in existence, these familiar particles would amount to about 5 percent of the total. Most of the universe is composed of other stuff, which, with all of science’s deep insights, we’ve yet to identify.

    How do we know this? Well, over the course of many decades, astronomers studied the motion of galaxies and the stars within them, and found that the gravity exerted by this luminous matter was insufficient to account for the way these heavenly bodies moved. Only by positing large amounts of additional matter that doesn’t give off light (visible, x-ray, infrared, or any other kind) and is thus invisible to telescopes, could the data be explained. Through detailed cosmological measurements, scientists also discovered that this so-called dark matter couldn’t be made of the same electrons, protons, and neutrons that make up everything with which we are familiar.

    Then, in the late 1990s, two groups of astronomers, one led by Saul Perlmutter of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the other by Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University, found something even stranger. Through observation of distant supernovas, these astronomers measured how the expansion rate of the universe has changed over time. Because of gravity’s relentless pull, most everyone expected that the expansion would be slowing. But the data from both groups showed the opposite. The expansion of the universe is speeding up. Something must be pushing outward, and luckily Einstein's general theory of relativity provides a ready-made candidate: A uniform, diffuse energy spread throughout space can act as an antigravity force. Since this energy gives off no light, it’s called dark energy.

    Collectively, the observations establish that about 23 percent of the universe is dark matter and about 72 percent is dark energy. Everything else is squeezed into the remaining few percent.

    Several experiments are now under way to identify dark matter. Scientists are searching for what they suspect is an exotic species of particle. Some studies are looking for clues by analyzing particles bombarding Earth from space; others, like the Large Hadron Collider, will analyze collisions between extremely fast-moving protons that have the potential to create dark matter in the lab. We are guardedly optimistic that we’ll be able to identify dark matter soon.

    By contrast, the question of dark energy is wide open. What is its origin? What determined its quantity? Does the amount stay constant or vary? These are critical questions. Calculations show that if the amount of dark energy had been slightly larger, the universe would have blown apart so quickly that life as we know it could not exist.

    - Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe

    10 AnswersReligion & Spirituality9 years ago
  • How will we know whether we are living according to the will of God or not ?

    How will we know whether we are living according to the will of God or not ? If you are sad for whatever reason, this means that you have not given yourself over to God, although from the outside it may seem that you have. He who lives according to God's will has no worries. When he needs something, he simply prays for it. If he does not receive that which he asked for, he is joyful as though he had received it. A soul that has given itself over to God has no fear of anything, not even robbers, sickness or death. Whatever happens, such a soul always cries. " It was the will of


    Elder Thaddeus of Serbia

    (I acknowledge that this isn't a question - but it was such a wonderful quote I wanted to share)

    9 AnswersReligion & Spirituality9 years ago
  • Is Science Just a Matter of Faith?

    Hugh Pickens writes "Pastabagel writes that the actual scientific answers to the questions of the origins of the universe, the evolution of man, and the fundamental nature of the cosmos involve things like wave equations and quantum electrodynamics and molecular biology that very few non-scientists can ever hope to understand and that if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we accept the incredibly complex scientific phenomena in physics, astronomy, and biology through the process of belief, not through reason. When Richard Fenyman wrote "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics," he was including himself which is disconcerting given how many books he wrote on that very subject. The fact is that it takes years of dedicated study before scientific truth in its truest, mathematical and symbolic forms can be understood. The rest of us rely on experts to explain it, someone who has seen and understood the truth and can dumb it down for us in a language we can understand. And therein lies the big problem for science and scientists. For most people, science is really a matter of trusting the expert who tells it to us and believing what they tell us. Trust and belief. Faith. Not understanding. How can we understand science, if we can't understand the language of science? "We don't learn science by doing science, we learn science by reading and memorizing. The same way we learn history. Do you really know what an atom is, or that a Higgs boson is a rather important thing, or did you simply accept they were what someone told you they were?""

    Any thoughts?

    23 AnswersReligion & Spirituality10 years ago