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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Python Activity for Today: Using Python code to fit data sets, and 'discover' Dark Energy!

Up to now, we have begun to learn some basics of Python using Codecademy, then we began to use Python to develop simulations of a bouncing ball (how to put equations of motion into a program) and a double pendulum (which we cannot do with pencil and paper, and included a focus on making graphs and animations in a program). Today, we will use a Python program to analyze data, which happens to be the data used to determine the acceleration of the universe and prediction of Dark Energy.

The activity for today is here. We will open Canopy to do this, as in the past.

If you are interested in the physics behind all this, dark matter and dark energy are not the same things. Dark matter is a term used for matter we cannot see. It could be a mix of several things, such as 'ordinary' matter and some new types of matter, that we cannot see directly but presume it is there due to its gravitational effects on things like galaxies. Dark energy is a term used for whatever it is that makes the expansion of the universe accelerate - we do not know what dark energy is. Of course, there is the scientific model for how the universe began and why it is expanding in the first place, the Big Bang.

Minute Physics video on Dark Matter.
Minute Physics video on Dark Energy.

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