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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

We-Don't-Know-Ness Is Everywhere

We-Don't-Know-Ness Is Everywhere

Author: Reilly Capps/Sunday, April 19, 2015/Categories: space science

[Astrophysicists find evidence for Dark Energy in studying supernovae, like this one. Photo by NASA/ESA]

We know about a lot of things: atoms, light, gravity, the electromagnetic force, the Higgs field, stars, black holes, Taylor Swift and so on. But, as fantastic and varied and huge as those things are, they only make up 5 percent of the cosmos. That's right! Five percent. If the cosmos were an elephant, we would know about one its ankles. 

So, what else is there? There is a lot of stuff we don't know, which I call We-Don't-Know-Ness. There are two types of We-Don't-Know-Ness. There is We-Don't-Ness holding the galaxies internally together -- scientists call this Dark Matter. And there is We-Don't-Know-Ness pushing the galaxies farther apart from each other -- scientists call this Dark Energy. But don't let those names fool you into thinking that we have any idea what this We-Don't-Know-Ness is. 

The energetic side of We-Don't-Know-Ness strikes me as particularly mysterious, and consequential. Because of it, our universe will eventually die of dissipation, thin like a three-dimensional crepe, cold and boring like a Scandinavian country. We have seen the end; it's a big fat raspberry -- pbbbt.

What to make of this information? Is We-Don't-Know-Ness something scary? Is it something potentially useful? Why should we care?

It might be a case for humility and awe. As smart as we are, we don't even know what we ourselves are made of. Scientists say that We-Don't-Know-Ness pervades every corner of the universe. And since we are part of the universe, We-Don't-Know-Ness is part of us. Its energetic properties pushing our rib cage (very subtly) apart, its gravitation properties pulling our rib cage (very subtly) closer together. We are mysteries. It's one more reason for all of us to love and be in awe of ourselves. 

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