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Dark energy at The Science Cafe

By Hamish Johnston

There’s nothing more annoying than the sound of your own voice…

I have come to this conclusion after spending many painful hours transcribing hundreds of taped interviews that I have done with scientists, industrialists and other luminaries.

But today, the shoe was on the other foot (or ear). At noon I was in a radio studio speaking to the host of the BBC Radio Wales programme The Science Cafe about dark energy.

2008 marks the tenth anniversary of the discovery of dark energy and Adam Walton wanted an update on the stuff from Physics World.

I’ll be the first to admit that cosmology is not one of my strengths and I know that I don’t have a voice for radio — but no-one else on the editorial team seemed to be available, so I agreed.

I spent the last few days reading up on dark energy — indeed, Physics World recently published three articles to mark the 10th anniversary, all of which were very helpful.

I did my best to answer Adam’s questions and I hope that after some skillful editing, his listeners will learn something about dark energy.

One thing I learned from the experience is that many of the things that I find interesting about dark energy — the huge discrepancy between the cosmological constant invoked to explain dark energy and the “cosmological constant” that can be derived from quantum field theory, for example — are very difficult to explain in sound bites.

If you live in Wales, you can listen to the show on Sunday, 29 June at 5pm. The rest of us can listen online.

I was pretty nervous during the interview, so I can’t really remember half of what I said. It will be interesting to hear what they use and what ends up on the cutting room floor.

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