“Normal science, the activity in which most scientists inevitably spend almost all their time, is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like.” -Thomas S. Kuhn
For all of human history, the biggest questions have fascinated us. Where did the Universe come from? How old is it? And what is its ultimate fate? Once relegated to the realm of theologians, poets, and philosophers, science has brought us closer than ever to the answers. But scientific revolutions have occurred before, in many cases significantly changing the answers to these and other inquiries. How certain are we that this won’t happen again?
The Sun, the Earth, and the history of life on our world all have a consistent age today, but back in the late 1800s, the evidence for the age of the Earth suggested it was significantly older than the Sun. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and ISS Expedition 37.
When it comes to the question of the age of the Universe, presently estimated at 13.8 billion years, there are many uncertainties that could come into play. Dark energy could evolve over time, fundamental constants might not be constant, or today’s fundamental particles might be broken ...