EDUCATION: From the Beginning

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Science  02 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5778, pp. 1285
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5778.1285d

What do the latest measurements of remnant radiation from the big bang indicate about the universe's fate? Why do some astronomers want to resurrect an idea Einstein dubbed his biggest mistake? Find answers to these and many other questions about the universe at this NASA cosmology primer. Aimed at students and the public, the tutorial is part of the Web site for the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, which is mapping the energy left over from the big bang more than 13 billion years ago. Eighteen chapters tackle big bang basics and recent extensions of the theory. For example, to keep the universe stable, Einstein penciled a factor called the cosmological constant into his formulation of general relativity—and later regretted it. However, some cosmologists now advocate reviving the constant to explain observations that suggest the universe's expansion is speeding up.

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