The Dark Side of the Universe

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What is the Universe made of? Recent observations suggest surprising results: not only most of the matter in the Universe is dark and unconventional but, more surprisingly, the major component of the Universe may be in the form of 'dark energy' -- a form of energy that opposes the pull of gravity and causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate. By combining recent observations of clusters of galaxies, distant supernovae, and the cosmic microwave background, we find evidence for a Universe that has only 5% 'normal' baryonic matter, 20% non-baryonic dark matter, and 75% 'dark energy'. The observations suggest a Universe that is lightweight, with only 25% of the critical mass-density needed to halt the Universal expansion, and a geometry that is flat with no space curvature. The observations of the dark side of the Universe and their implications will be discussed.