Lecture to focus on acceleration of expanding universe

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 29, 2005 – Have you ever wondered where we are all going? No, REALLY going…in the universe?

John Simonetti, professor of physics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, will provide some clues in a free public lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, in 1670 Litton Reaves Hall on Virginia Tech's campus.

“During the past century our understanding of the structure and evolution of the universe has increased dramatically.” Simonetti said. “Along the way, Albert Einstein’s contributions have played a major role. His General Theory of Relativity set the stage for our exploration, and it now appears he was onto something that many researchers in his day, not even he, could accept.”

Simonetti’s presentation, titled “The Accelerating Universe: Einstein’s Greatest Blunder – NOT,” will use very simple physics to show how theorists believe the expansion of the universe is accelerating rather than decelerating. This is counter to what would be expected if ordinary matter dominated the contents of the universe.

“But surprisingly, we now think only about 4 percent of the content of our universe is ordinary matter…the stuff in the periodic table of the elements,” Simonetti said. “That leaves the other 96 percent of our universe to be something we can describe only as dark energy and dark matter.”

Simonetti’s lecture is part of World Year of Physics, a year-long international celebration of physics and the contributions that Einstein made in revolutionizing modern science. World Year of Physics is being recognized worldwide. Events in the United States are being spearheaded by the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics. Additional activities are planned at Virginia Tech throughout the year.