Science has a history of answering a question by replacing it with two more. The more we know, the more we realize we don’t know. Now we are finding out that the universe is expanding… faster than it should be. What does this mean so far?
All normal matter we are familiar with is made up of baryons. In other words, three quarks comprising mass. This is what gives weight to the universe and is elementary in the understanding of gravity. The force of gravity exerts a force on the universe making it want to shrink. Baryonic matter comprises only 4 percent of the known universe. If there were more, the universe would be shrinking instead of expanding.
Dark matter is also known as the missing mass of the universe. Except we know where it exists. You can find it surrounding the galaxies including our own. This is the mass that generates formations of galaxies and clusters. It is also comprised of non-baryonic matter known as ‘weakly interacting massive particles’ or WIMPs. This makes up 23 percent of the universe. Another shrinking factor in the universe.
Here is where it starts to get interesting. If we have all of this matter causing gravity, why isn’t the universe shrinking instead of expanding? Scientists believe in something pulling us apart called ‘dark energy’. We don’t know where it is or what it is comprised of but we can deduce information by its effects on the universe. This is causing what is called an ‘anti-gravity effect’ on the mass comprising 27 percent of the known universe. Not the anti-gravity of the movies or science fiction but an opposing force acting against the known matter. Dark energy is thought to comprise 73 percent of the universe. By far, the largest constituent of the universe. If this is explaining the expansion, then what questions is it leaving behind for us?
The problem is, this only explains most of the expansion of the universe. Our numbers and calculations aren’t adding up right. According to the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), our universe shouldn’t be expanding as fast as it is. Scientists found this out by using what is called the ‘standard candle.’ This is a reference to how much a star should shine and is measured across the universe to find out the rate of expansion. According to that standard candle, the universe is expanding 8 percent faster than it should be. WTF
This could mean a re-writing of the fundamental laws of the universe. Either that or our calculations might be a bit off. It is still too early to tell. As independent sources are either confirming or disputing, we wait to find out if we need to change Max Planck’s universal constant or not.
By the way, the percentages you are seeing here is only one set. Depending on your source, matter has been reported at either 4 percent or 5 percent. Dark matter ranges from 23 percent to 27 percent. Dark energy can vary from 68 percent to 73 percent. It all depends on whose article you are reading.