The cover of the new issue of “Indispensables” of Sciences et Avenir: the hidden face of the Universe.
34,000 years ago, to find one’s bearings in the immutable cycle of nights, a human – little good woman? little man? – notched a reindeer bone with a series of 69 notches representing, according to archaeologists, the phases of the Moon. It was in the Dordogne, in the Abri Blanchard, and the bone is today the first testimony of a desire to control infinity, to establish certainties on what is beyond us.
In a word, to increase knowledge, which is what is proper to man. Transforming the unknown into the known, the invisible into the visible… isn’t that the goal of all science? Little man, little good woman? Rather first or first scholar!
The Dark Side of the Universe
But tackling the Universe… the challenge is daunting! Did he have the intuition, this paleolithic human, that the slow dance of stars and planets throughout the seasons delimited only a tiny fraction of the cosmos? Until the astrophysicist Edwin Hubble – just over a hundred years ago – this one, immutable and eternal, was reduced to a single galaxy, ours. Since then, cosmologists have revealed that it had a turbulent history and included billions of galaxies, themselves rich with billions of stars… It would make you dizzy!
The Universe is expanding, but the question remains: what is it hiding? Let’s face it if the sky fascinates us so much, it’s because the mysteries it conceals are inconceivable. It is to a guided tour of the cosmos, intended to decipher some of these enigmas, that we invite you to this issue. Intergalactic travelers, we will discover in our near suburbs the aurora borealis and the icy oceans of Jupiter’s moons.
As we sink into the depths of time and space, we will allow ourselves to be fascinated by incredible spectacles: whirlpools of black holes infusion, quasars a hundred thousand billion times brighter than the Sun, streams of luminous matter flowing along the galactic filaments… And we will discover the dark side of a Universe swollen by the enigmatic dark energy,
A short story by Hervé Le Tellier, author of L’Anomalie
In this extraterrestrial adventure, we will not be alone: the writer Hervé Le Tellier, who entertained many of us with his novel L’Anomalie, gives us the pleasure of giving us as companions astronauts of the future, inventors of worlds strange… but I let you savor his Canterbury Tales!
If this trip is unthinkable in reality, astrophysicists have other means of undertaking it. And there is urgency! Because the discipline is in crisis: disagreements on expansion, on the first moments of the Universe… Should we put the cosmos upside down, put away the theories that seemed so solid in the celestial cupboard? Only observations can decide.
Also, put into service, or about to be, extraordinarily sophisticated instruments: Euclid, Vera-Rubin, James-Webb, or Desi, designed precisely to observe this hidden Universe as closely as possible. There is no doubt about it: the ten years to come will settle many questions and, in so doing, raise new ones. An exciting prospect, isn’t it?