Saturday, June 23, 2012

Two Dark Mysteries

A Star Nursery: 
A baby star is being born in the midst of a nebula, an interstellar cloud of gases.


One of the ways the heavens declare the glory of God is through the many mysteries He has hidden in the universe, waiting to be found by astronomers and cosmologists. Today cosmologists are searching for answers to several baffling mysteries in the universe.

Dark energy is considered to be the most profound and puzzling of all these mysteries. Dark energy, discovered in the early 1990’s by two groups of astronomers (one at UC Berkeley and the other at Johns Hopkins University), is postulated to be the energy behind the mystery of the expansion of the universe. The Big Bang theory, which is now widely accepted, states that the universe had a beginning, some 14.7 billion years ago, when matter and time began. It would be logical to expect that as the universe expanded the rate of acceleration would slow down, much like an explosion. When an explosion (like fireworks) eventually runs out of energy the particles slow down and in the case of fireworks, fall to earth. Surprisingly, the opposite has proven to be true – the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. The term given to explain this phenomena is Dark Energy. Some astronomers call dark energy the fifth force or ‘quintessence’ that may be responsible for this acceleration.

A second mystery is the recently discovered dark matter that seems to be holding galaxies together. Dark matter, unlike the matter we see around us, does not send any electromagnetic signals and therefore its nature remains unknown. Dark energy and dark matter together constitute 95.4% of the known universe, limiting our knowledge of what makes up this vast universe to a mere 4.6%!

In the Bible, Job 38 records what God says about human’s knowledge and power: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?...Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons?... Do you know the laws of the heavens?”  Indeed, these mysteries, together with a number of others, speak to us of the wonders that God has placed in his creation. Wonders that mankind continues to explore using all the wisdom and insight God has given his creatures.

To wonder, to search, to explain these mysteries leads us to worship the Almighty and Glorious Creator.

(The other mysteries astronomers are exploring have to do with the inability to account for all the ordinary matter that makes up the 4.6%; the exact mechanism of stars exploding to form supernovas; the source of energetic cosmic rays; and why is our solar system made up of such diverse planets, not one of them being similar to the others, including their respective satellites.)

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