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Thursday, January 03, 2008

We are running out of...Time

The idea that time itself could cease to be in billions of years - and everything will grind to a halt - has been set out by Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain.


Hubble telescope photo of a supernova. Scientists use these to study distant galaxies
The motivation for this radical end to time itself is to provide an alternative explanation for "dark energy" - the mysterious antigravitational force that has been suggested to explain a cosmic phenomenon that has baffled scientists.

A decade ago, astronomers noticed that distant supernovae - exploding stars on the very fringes of the universe - seemed to be moving faster than those nearer to the centre, suggesting that they were accelerating as they shot through space.

Dark energy was suggested as a possible means of powering this acceleration of the expansion of the cosmos.

The problem is that no-one has any idea what dark energy is or where it comes from, and theoreticians around the world have been scrambling to find out what it is, or get rid of it.

The team's proposal, which will be published in the journal Physical Review D, does away altogether with dark energy. Instead, Prof Senovilla says, the appearance of acceleration is caused by time itself gradually slowing down, like a clock that needs winding.

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