Scientists genuinely don't know what most of our universe is made of. The atoms we're made from only make up four per cent. The rest is dark matter and dark energy (for 'dark', read 'don't know'). The Large Hadron Collider at CERN has been upgraded. When it's switched on in March 2015, its collisions will have twice the energy they did before. The hope is that scientists will discover the identity of dark matter in the debris. The stakes are high - because if dark matter fails to show itself, it might mean that physics itself needs a rethink.
It is one of the most baffling questions that scientists can ask: how big is the Universe that we live in? Follow the cosmologists who are creating the most ambitious map in history - a map of everything in existence. And it is stranger than anyone had imagined - a Universe without end that stretches far beyond what the eye can ever see. And, if the latest research proves true, our Universe may just be the start of something even bigger. Much bigger.
While scientists have previously theorised about a “Big Crunch” where the universe retracts back to its original size, the discovery of Dark Matter and Dark Energy has placed that hypothesis on the backburner. Some astronomers now believe that if Dark Matter offsets Dark Energy then as the universe slowly expands, stars will gradually fade, running out of fuel and leading to a dark, cold and lifeless universe. Others hypothesise a much more violent end where Dark Energy continues to expand the universe at a greater and greater speed. Stronger than gravity, Dark Energy would pull apart everything down to the fundamental particles – the universe’s very fibres. While the universe’s end may be 50 billion years away, great leaps in science will continue to alter how we believe the universe was formed – and how it will end.
How and when will the Universe end? Gravity and dark matter are poised to annihilate the Universe in a big crunch. Expansion and dark energy may tear it apart. Or, a phase transition could kill us tomorrow in a cosmic death bubble.
Category:Science Duration:42:00 Series: How the Universe Works
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