Did Einstein have a more traditional telescope? Einstein was a theoretical physicist who worked mainly with equations. He relied on colleagues who were professional astronomers to make the astronomical observations that informed his work. However, a telescope belonging to Einstein was recently discovered in a storage shed at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This telescope is a traditional instrument that Einstein probably used for enjoyment, and is not what is meant by the title of this book.
What is the Universe made of?
- 5% Normal Matter -- the basic building blocks that make up the atoms and molecules of everything on Earth
- 23% Dark Matter
- 72%Dark Energy
What is Dark Matter? Most of the matter in the Universe is in the form of dark matter -- an entirely new kind of matter very different from the matter that makes up the atoms and molecules that comprise the Earth and everything on it. Dark matter doesn't interact with light, so we can't see it directly, but its presence is revealed via its gravitational effects on things that we can see. We don't yet know exactly what dark matter is but we suspect that it may consist of exotic new particles. We have many good theoretical candidates for these particles, and scientists are designing creative experiments to look for them.
What is Dark Energy? Dark energy is the unknown substance that is fueling the accelerated expansion of the Universe -- and it is most compelling mystery in science today. Dark energy is the main component of the Universe, but we don't yet understand it. Scientists are exploring a host of ideas and models that might explain dark energy, all of which involve radical new physics -- and the answer may be something we have not yet imagined.
Can we use Einstein's Telescope to find extrasolar planets? Yes -- and several have already been found. The planets found with Einstein's Telescope are much farther away -- thousands of light-years from Earth -- than those detected with other methods.
What else can be seen using gravitational lensing? Any massive object can potentially be detected using gravitational lensing -- even the Sun acts as a gravitational lens. Scientists use gravitational lensing (Einstein's Telescope) to "see" dim stars, black holes, the dark matter halos around galaxies and clusters of galaxies, and the web of dark matter that pervades the Universe.
Can we discover black holes with Einstein's Telescope? Black holes can also be seen with Einstein's Telescope, but it isn't easy -- so far we've found only one good black hole candidate with this technique.
How does gravitational lensing relate to the theory of general relativity? General relativity is the framework for gravitational lensing. Einstein's theory describes a Universe in which space and time are warped in response to the presence of matter and energy. Light traveling through the Universe traces out the bumps and curves created by these warps, bending around massive objects just as if a giant lens had been placed out in space. The first observation of gravitational lensing (during the solar eclipse of 1919) confirmed the predictions of Einstein's outrageous new theory -- and propelled general relativity into the scientific and public spotlight.
What does a map of the universe help us to understand? As we look further away into the distant Universe, we are also looking farther back in time. Thus a 3-dimensional map of the Universe that extends billions of light-years into space not only gives us a picture of the Universe as it is today, but also traces its evolution over billions of years of cosmic history. The information we extract from such a map will allow us to determine how the Universe evolved from the Big Bang to the present - and help us project its future and ultimate fate. Equally important, the details of the expansion and evolution of the Universe revealed by this map contain critical information about the nature of Dark Energy - and understanding dark energy will almost certainly take us to the next great revolution in science.