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Universe May Be a Titch Older

New data from the European Planck satellite indicate that the universe is 13.8 billion years old rather than a mere 13.7 billion years old. John Matson reports

Our universe has long passed for a 13.7-billion-year-old, but it turns out it’s really a bit more elderly. So says new data from the European Planck satellite.

“Compared to the previous best measurements, the universe is a little older, 13.8 billion years.” U.S. project scientist Charles Lawrence of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a March 21st press briefing.

“It’s expanding a little more slowly. There’s more matter, both the kind that we’re made of that we can see and the dark kind that we can’t see, but that has gravity to pull things around.”

The Planck satellite maps the cosmic microwave background, the faint afterglow of the big bang. And that lets cosmologists look back to the very dawn of the universe.

“The variations from place to place in the map that Planck has made tell us new things about what happened just 10 nano-nano-nano-nanoseconds after the big bang when, in a gazillion times less time than it takes me to say this, the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times.”

It’s been said that “the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”

—John Matson

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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