Thursday, April 03, 2003
Universe less lumpy than it should be.
Physicists' notions of the Universe could be in trouble. New measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope hint that space is smooth, not grainy. Without graininess, our current theories predict that the Big Bang was infinitely hot and dense - tough to explain, to say the least.
Two groups have peered at distant stars and galaxies, and seen a pin-sharp picture. This, they say, is at odds with quantum physics' prediction that space, time and gravity are split into pieces at the smallest scales, like the pixels of a photograph. If this were the case, the picture should have been blurry, they argue.
"The theoreticians are very worried," says Richard Lieu of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a member of one of the teams. "There could be quite a bit of missing physics to be found."