Thursday, September 25, 2008

Go With the (Dark) Flow

In light of the housing slump, our tanking financial institutions, and a halted economy, it might be a bit relieving to know that something, (even if it ain't money) is flowing.

'Dark flow', as scientists have dubbed the phenomenon, is made up of patches of matter in distant galaxy clusters, that appear to be moving through the universe at extremely high speeds (nearly 2 million mph), and in a uniform direction.

Researchers believe the gravity of some object(s) outside of the observable universe is pulling on the matter, causing the high-speed motion.

The discovery could help scientists probe what happened to the universe before inflation, a general term for the theory that the observable universe expanded very rapidly right after the Big Bang, blowing up from a very small region to the size it is now (imagine a bubble the size of a proton swelling to the size of a basketball, in less than a fraction of a second).

The new findings may provide clues to what is happening beyond the bubble, in those parts of the cosmos we can't access.

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