Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 128

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 134

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 141

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 169

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 199

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 205

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 233

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 248

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 254

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 267

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php on line 595

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/files/model/_file.funcs.php on line 559

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_connect_db.inc.php on line 29

Strict Standards: Declaration of UserSettings::get() should be compatible with AbstractSettings::get($col_key1, $col_key2 = NULL, $col_key3 = NULL) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/users/model/_usersettings.class.php on line 208

Strict Standards: Declaration of UserSettings::set() should be compatible with AbstractSettings::set() in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/users/model/_usersettings.class.php on line 208

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 223

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 223

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 223

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 223

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 223

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 223

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 223

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 304

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_core/_param.funcs.php on line 1692

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php:128) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/sessions/model/_session.class.php on line 222

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/generic/model/_genericelement.class.php on line 109

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_core/model/dataobjects/_dataobject.class.php on line 428

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_core/model/dataobjects/_dataobject.class.php on line 437

Strict Standards: Declaration of Blog::set() should be compatible with DataObject::set($parname, $parvalue, $make_null = false) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/collections/model/_blog.class.php on line 1932

Strict Standards: Declaration of Group::set() should be compatible with DataObject::set($parname, $parvalue, $make_null = false) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/users/model/_group.class.php on line 553

Strict Standards: Declaration of User::dbdelete() should be compatible with DataObject::dbdelete() in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/users/model/_user.class.php on line 1343

Strict Standards: Declaration of User::set() should be compatible with DataObject::set($parname, $parvalue, $make_null = false) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/users/model/_user.class.php on line 1343

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/files/model/_file.class.php on line 1782

Strict Standards: Declaration of Filetype::set() should be compatible with DataObject::set($parname, $parvalue, $make_null = false) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/files/model/_filetype.class.php on line 192

Strict Standards: Declaration of Comment::set() should be compatible with DataObject::set($parname, $parvalue, $make_null = false) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/comments/model/_comment.class.php on line 1334

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_blog_main.inc.php on line 450

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/items/model/_itemlist.class.php on line 483

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/items/model/_itemlistlight.class.php on line 119

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/items/model/_itemlistlight.class.php on line 838

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/items/model/_item.class.php on line 1426

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/items/model/_item.class.php on line 1429

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/items/model/_item.class.php on line 3032

Strict Standards: Declaration of ItemListLight::query() should be compatible with Results::query($create_default_cols_if_needed = true, $append_limit = true, $append_order_by = true, $query_title = 'Results::Q...') in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/items/model/_itemlistlight.class.php on line 48

Strict Standards: Declaration of GenericCategoryCache::clear() should be compatible with DataObjectCache::clear($keep_shadow = false) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/generic/model/_genericcategorycache.class.php on line 429

Strict Standards: Declaration of GenericCategory::set() should be compatible with DataObject::set($parname, $parvalue, $make_null = false) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/generic/model/_genericcategory.class.php on line 133

Strict Standards: Declaration of CollectionSettings::_load() should be compatible with AbstractSettings::_load($arg1 = NULL, $arg2 = NULL, $arg3 = NULL) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/collections/model/_collsettings.class.php on line 132

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 334

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 334

Notice: Array to string conversion in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_core/_param.funcs.php on line 1161

Notice: Array to string conversion in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_core/_param.funcs.php on line 1161

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 334

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 223

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_main.inc.php:128) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/skins/_skin.funcs.php on line 379
What is the cosmological constant?
Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 304
The Pauper's Theater
  
Ask Dr. Volt!
 
Befuddled by physics?  Stymied by science?  Then ask Dr. Volt!
 
Dr. Volt, certified Mad Scientist, will take your questions, scrutinize them over a Bunsen burner, and post the answers here!  You can also search the archives for answers to past questions.
 



Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 334
What is the cosmological constant?


Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 304

Strict Standards: Declaration of smilies_plugin::GetDefaultSettings() should be compatible with Plugin::GetDefaultSettings(&$params) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/plugins/_smilies.plugin.php on line 398

Strict Standards: Declaration of smilies_plugin::GetDefaultUserSettings() should be compatible with Plugin::GetDefaultUserSettings(&$params) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/plugins/_smilies.plugin.php on line 398

Strict Standards: Declaration of auto_p_plugin::GetDefaultSettings() should be compatible with Plugin::GetDefaultSettings(&$params) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/plugins/_auto_p.plugin.php on line 633

David N. asks, "Dr. Volt, what is the cosmological constant, and is it really constant? And does it really matter?"

Excellent question, David! You have hit upon one of the great unanswered questions of the universe. That is, is the universe expanding, contracting, or is it stationary? The cosmological constant was first introduced by Einstein into his equations for General Relativity in order to allow for the possibility of a static universe. While Einstein later considered this one of his "biggest blunders," the evidence later seen in the 1990s that suggested an expanding universe (i.e. the redshift in light from distant galaxies) led astronomers to consider the cosmological constant once again. While certainly believed to be a constant, there remains great debate as to the value of this constant, which will in turn tell us if we live in an open universe (forever expanding) or a closed universe that will eventually contract and collapse. Essentially the cosmological constant is an energy density, and if the value of this density in the universe is small enough it means the universe will continue to expand forever, but if it is great enough it means the universe will eventually collapse back in on itself leading to what is often termed a "big crunch." (Some astronomers argue that the universe could then expand again, leading to a cyclical universe of forever repeating "big bangs" and "big crunches," although one has to wonder how this could be compatible with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.) Pick a value right in the middle and the universe is "flat," neither expanding nor contracting.

So does it matter? As a purely practical point if the universe will someday collapse then anyone around at that point may certainly feel that it matters, but as such a time is billions and billions of years away we need not worry about the end of the universe as we know it quite yet. In the meantime, establishing once and for all the value of this constant will aid in our understanding of the structure of the universe and its ultimate fate. Many of us in the mad scientist community are eagerly awaiting such a result in order to perfect our own diabolical contraptions for creating localized regions of collapsing space (very useful in holding cities for ransom, quite necessary when mad scientists usually find themselves ineligible for most research grants).

Thanks for your question, David. I hope you find this information useful as you devise your own schemes for world domination!

The Sombrero Galaxy, courtesy of the Hubble Telescope


Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 334
--->
Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/skins/_item_feedback.inc.php on line 156

Feedback awaiting moderation

This post has 6 feedbacks awaiting moderation...


Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/skins/_item_comment_form.inc.php on line 67

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/skins/_item_comment_form.inc.php on line 84

Leave a comment


Your email address will not be revealed on this site.

Your URL will be displayed.

Strict Standards: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/plugins/model/_plugins.class.php on line 677

Strict Standards: Declaration of PluginSettings::get() should be compatible with AbstractSettings::get($col_key1, $col_key2 = NULL, $col_key3 = NULL) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/plugins/model/_pluginsettings.class.php on line 95

Strict Standards: Declaration of PluginSettings::set() should be compatible with AbstractSettings::set() in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/plugins/model/_pluginsettings.class.php on line 95

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 334
(Line breaks become <br />)
(Name, email & website)
(Allow users to contact you through a message form (your email will not be revealed.)

Strict Standards: Declaration of captcha_img_plugin::GetDefaultSettings() should be compatible with Plugin::GetDefaultSettings(&$params) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/plugins/captcha_img_plugin/_captcha_img.plugin.php on line 1323

Strict Standards: Declaration of captcha_img_plugin::AfterCommentFormInsert() should be compatible with Plugin::AfterCommentFormInsert(&$params) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/plugins/captcha_img_plugin/_captcha_img.plugin.php on line 1323

Strict Standards: Declaration of captcha_img_plugin::CaptchaValidatedCleanup() should be compatible with Plugin::CaptchaValidatedCleanup(&$params) in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/plugins/captcha_img_plugin/_captcha_img.plugin.php on line 1323

Strict Standards: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/plugins/model/_plugins.class.php on line 677

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 304

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 236
This is a captcha-picture. It is used to prevent mass-access by robots.

Please enter the characters from the image above. (case insensitive)


Notice: Array to string conversion in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/_core/ui/forms/_form.class.php on line 425
Array

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 304

Deprecated: Non-static method Hitlist::dbprune() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/sessions/model/_hit.class.php on line 531

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/playwrig/www/paupers/drvolt/inc/settings/model/_abstractsettings.class.php on line 304