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mattbrowne's avatar

Our universe is a bit older - How many people are already aware of this?

Asked by mattbrowne (31463 points ) December 8th, 2013

The Universe is 13.82 billion years old.
The Universe is expanding a bit slower than we expected.
The Universe is 4.9 percent normal matter, 26.8 percent dark matter, and 68.3 percent dark energy.

Interesting, isn’t it?

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28 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t get any of this. Who cares? What difference does this sort of thing mean to us? How on earth do they know? Will it all change again just when we get used to it?

ETpro's avatar

Citation, please. It makes a difference to me.

ragingloli's avatar

@YARNLADY
go back a few hundred years and ask the same questions.
There is a force exerted by massive objects, called “gravity”. What difference does it make?
Time slows down as an object’s velocity approaches the speed of light. What difference does it make?
Life as we know it is the product of a process called evolution. What difference does it make?
Electrons in a wire can be moved by turning the wire into a coil and subjecting it to a rotating magnet. What difference does it make?

Please step aside, and back into your cave, as the rest of the species walks into the future.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ragingloli This is the first time I could make any sense of what you are saying. My question is how could it possibly make any difference if we know that what we thought was true a few years ago isn’t really the way it is. It doesn’t change our lives in any way what so ever.

ragingloli's avatar

It doesn’t change our lives in any way what so ever.
Yet.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

So Al Gore was right?

flutherother's avatar

I find it interesting and I wonder what the James Webb Telescope will discover.
@ETpro There is a citation here

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, I’m blocking it, because I had something a bit younger in mind.

zenvelo's avatar

I think it’s 13,820,000,001 years old, because it was 13,820,000,000 last year.

Bill1939's avatar

This is very interesting to me. Thanks for the link to “Age of the Universe…”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why does something have to “make a difference” or “change our lives” to be of value @YARNLADY? Just discovering these things makes a difference in some people’s lives.

khajuria's avatar

Nice post! Thank you for sharing.

kritiper's avatar

Our universe as it is today may be that old but the void that contains it and all of the matter that has always existed, is ageless.

ucme's avatar

All i’m getting here is Eric Idle singing.

CWOTUS's avatar

Keep in mind that not all the youngsters have the benefit of our great experience, @ucme.

ucme's avatar

@CWOTUS Regardless of age, if you don’t know that song, then you’re technically not worth knowing.

ETpro's avatar

@flutherother Thanks. Deeply appreciated.

@YARNLADY The author of the article linked above, Astronomer Phil Plait, PhD., sums up why it matters to him at the end of his piece. He writes: “As a scientist, of course, I like it when we get better measurements, more detail, refined numbers. That’s how we test models, and it helps us understand our ideas better.

“But I’m human, and a big part of my brain is still reeling from the fact that we can accurately measure the age of the Universe at all. We can figure out what’s in it, even when most of it is something we cannot see. We can determine not only that it’s expanding, but how quickly.

“And best of all, we see that the Universe is doing things we still don’t understand. It’s showing us that there is still more out there, things occurring on so vast a canvas that it both crushes utterly our sense of scale and expands ferociously our imagination.

“Every day, we get better at learning what the Universe is doing. And the work continues to find out how. It may even lead us to the answer of the ultimate question of all: why?

“If that answer exists (if the question even makes sense), and we can understand it, then we are making our first steps toward it right now.

“I still hear some people say that science takes the wonder out of life. Those people are utterly and completely wrong.” (All emphasis his.)

When we first turned a microscope on pond water and saw in it teeming with life, we only knew we were looking at unimaginably small living creatures seemingly moving about under their own volition, some acting as predators trying to catch prey and others warily avoiding the predators if they could. We did not know at that moment that we were discovering germ theory and would eventually discover antibiotics to kill harmful single-cell predators in the bodies. We didn’t know that we were releasing humanity from the fear of witchcraft and evil spells cast on us to make us sick, and instead learning what really caused diseases and how to cure them. We just knew that we were looking at something new and fascinating. But look at all the good that has come from that discovery.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I have problems with those who insist that the age of the Universe is little more than 5,000 years old, with their calculations based on Biblical evidence.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I like the number of significant digits. I’m so old I remember when they thought it was “about 10 Billion years old”. Then they got it better and called it 14B.
Now they know it is 13.82 Billion. Fantastic. It give me chills.
Thank you for letting us know.

CWOTUS's avatar

I can see the opening scene to an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia now:

13.82 billion years ago, on a Tuesday…

Blackberry's avatar

Anyone can say that nothing matters, but that wouldn’t be fun. Take it easy on @YARNLADY, I understand what she is saying. As an example, I’m aware of things going on in politics, but that doesn’t mean I have to care. Information like this is really for the people that are interested in hearing it. And if someone sees it, which sparks an interest for them to want to explore more, that’s what really matters.

I remember the first time I saw the Hubble Deep Field. I had an idea that the universe was massive, just like everyone, but when I saw that picture for the first time, I felt my life and ideologies changed forever.

In my opinion you can’t look at this stuff and feel nothing. Humans are literally the universe experiencing itself and that is enough to blow my mind and make me curious to know more.

mattbrowne's avatar

@YARNLADY – Who cares about quantum mechanics when there are people out there who have not enough to eat? Well, it turns out that computers became important tool, capable of saving lives (e.g. by better weather forecasts), as well as increasing overall wealth and reducing poverty worldwide. Today only a small percentage of people worldwide are poor. Fifty years ago it was almost half of the world’s population.

I’m really tired of the “who cares” attitude whenever there’s a discovery that doesn’t immediately translate into cheeseburgers and tastier donuts.

Seek's avatar

@ucme (glancing about)
Pray there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ‘cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth.

YARNLADY's avatar

@mattbrowne I really appreciated @ETpro answer. But to respond to you, If we thought the universe was x old last year, but this year it is X + more old, I really can’t see how it matters. Maybe next year we will find out the universe really isn’t that old after all. It’s a lot of fun to study, but not exactly earth shaking news.

ETpro's avatar

@YARNLADY We almost certainly will revise the number again. Some people think science is only about deceiving us into not believing ancient myths written down by bronze-age desert tribesmen who thought disease was due to evil spells and curses of devils or witches. Others think it’s about revealing absolute truth. The fact is that what science is about is not even close to either of those misconceptions. It’s about constantly honing a set of probabilities to be a little more precise. We never know, when we improve our understanding of a given question, what benefit may come of doing so. But we do know that it we never improve our understanding, we will make no progress, and eventually some natural or man-made disaster will end all human life. So it’s better to press on in hopes of figuring out how to mitigate that existential threat before it’s too late.

mattbrowne's avatar

Fun can be a side effect, but it isn’t the main purpose of science. All fundamental science matters greatly. Understanding the big bang and its early aftermath can help scientists design better experiments, for example at CERN in Geneva. Such experiments further our understanding of matter and energy, which at some point could help us make fusion on earth practical, for example. It’s a great misconception that only such a last step is earth shaking, while in fact all of the previous steps were equally important.

These numbers aren’t educated guesses that keep bouncing around. They are the result of recent more precise satellite data collections and painstaking evaluations.

Dutchess_III's avatar

“Merry Christmas and Fusion on Earth.”

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