Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Hey Bill Nye! Is the Expansion of the Universe Gaining Speed?

Edwin Hubble's discovery that the universe is expanding changed not only the way we think of the universe, but also how we understand the passage of time. Bill Nye the Science Guy explains...

Marty Behsman: Bill. How are you doing? My name is Marty Behsman. I'm from Boston Massachusetts, New England. My question for you is do you believe that as space expands it starts moving at a faster and less controlled rate? I've always wondered this given our ancestors had such a closer view of time and space than we have now and it seems to have been moving pretty much faster away from us than as they had says a huge view of galaxies and what they originally mapped out. Thank you very much.

Bill Nye: Marty. Marty. Marty. So you're asking a great question. Keep in mind that in my grandfather's time it was believed by a great many people that the universe was static, that it just is the way it's always been. It's big, some extraordinarily huge size and it had always been that way. Then in my father's time relativity was discovered and furthermore the expanding universe was discovered. It was discovered nominally or largely credited to Edwin Hubble and that's what we named the space telescope after Hubble because he was looking at the stars, he was an astronomer studying various types of stars and he could identify different types of stars and then realized that all of them of a certain type were moving farther away at a very high speed. And you determine this through this famous expiration the red shift. He noticed that the stars were slightly redder than he would have expected. And this he attributed to their speed stretching the wavelength of light out. It's amazing. And this was around 1927, 1928/29. Hubble realized the universe was expanding and this was consistent with certain aspects of relativity of Einstein's postulations or theories.

All right, well then, in your lifetime Marty, people discovered that the universe is not only expanding – in fact after Hubble made the discovery everybody presumed or question or tried to figure out at what rate the universe would slow down. In other words everybody figured there's gravity, there's a big - if everything is expanding it expanded from a place. And keep in mind the big insight is not just that the matter that you and I are made of and the sun is made of that space itself is expanding. It's a hard idea. If you're not troubled by this idea you're odd, but that space itself is expanding. And furthermore, it was presumed that it would slow down, that gravity would make things slow down in their expansion and people were trying to figure out that rate. But what they discovered around the year 2000, Nobel Prize I think was awarded in 2004, what they discovered is the universe is accelerating.
And do you know why it's exhilarating? Nobody knows why Marty and this is the fascination. This is a source that just makes us all crazy in a good way. And so in this mix now it's been discovered that there is about five times as much matter or whatever it is that we can't see that has come to be called dark matter. And it's about five times as much of that as there is of the stuff that you and I are made of. And you know why? Nobody knows why, but it's gravitational influence is of great significance when you start to study the cosmos. So you Marty are living at a time where the next great discovery about the expansion of the universe, the nature of space and time is understood. You may be here when the next amazing world changing insight in astrophysics or physics or science is made. So when you go to vote Marty vote to support basic research because these discoveries are important to us. That's how we have nuclear power plants. It's how we have the Internet is understanding this physics of subatomic particles and how they relate to the physics of the cosmos, our place in space. And so who knows what the next great discovery will lead to, but it's worth pursuing because we all want to know where we came from. We want to know where we fit in the cosmos, our place in space. Cool question. Carry on!

Edwin Hubble's discovery that the universe is expanding changed not only the way we think of the universe, but also how we understand the passage of time. Bill Nye the Science Guy explains how Hubble's finding created the foundation for other 20th century discoveries, e.g. that the universe is not only expanding, but expanding at an accelerating rate. The implication is that stars are moving apart from each other faster and faster, and that space itself is expanding. Where is it expanding into if there is no space already there? That's one of the mysteries of modern physics, says Nye.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

Why is everyone so selfish? Science explains

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.

Credit: Adobe Stock, Olivier Le Moal.
Personal Growth
  • Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
  • New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
  • Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Keep reading Show less

How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.

Ernest Hemingway Holding His Son 1927 (Wikimedia Commons)
Culture & Religion

Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?

Keep reading Show less

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

Keep reading Show less

The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

Videos
  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast