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What next for cosmology?

In recent decades, new technologies have revolutionised our understanding of the origins and nature of the universe. And now the big remaining questions—on dark matter and the universe's accelerating expansion—are turning cosmology into Big Science

By Stephen Eales   August 2008

One of my favourite astronomy memories dates from the mid-1990s. I had gone out to the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii to measure the brightness of some high-redshift radio galaxies—a worthy but routine piece of science—and discovered that they were fainter than expected. This may not sound terribly interesting, but it was exciting for me and the other 100 or so scientists around the world who care about these objects. My memory, however, is of what happened after the observing run. During the night, we received an email that the space shuttle was due to pass over Hawaii. Just before…

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