Science is always surprising us. Sometimes, as we use science to investigate the natural world, our expectations of what should be are rocked by what we discover to be true. In this video, Dr. Jennifer Wiseman describes a few scientific surprises within the field of astrophysics.
The Expanding Universe and Dark Energy
When scientists learned about the expansion of the universe, the assumption was that, based on what we know about gravity, eventually the universe must start to slow down or collapse. Contrary to this expectation, we instead discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The cause of this acceleration is a mystery, so we attribute it to a force we call “Dark Energy.” Scientists are still working to discover and understand exactly what Dark Energy is.
Exoplanets and Interstellar Objects
Another amazing scientific surprise of the last few decades is the nature of planets in other solar systems. We’ve learned that planetary systems are abundant around other stars, and that they have properties quite different from the planets we’re familiar with in our own solar system. Scientists can learn about these exoplanets from “interstellar objects,” asteroids and comets that travel from another solar system into our own, carrying with them information about the system from which they came.
Delicious Surprises Keep Us Fueled with Curiosity
Scientific surprises keep us motivated to investigate and learn more about the universe. They remind us that there is so much to explore, and the excitement of discovery fuels us in seeking to understand the many mysteries of the universe.