A LOOK AT THE BIG BANG….This is cool: the first comprehensive map of the early universe from MAP, the Microwave Anisotropy Probe. It pins down the age of the universe as 13.7 billion years old and confirms that ordinary matter makes up only 4% of the mass of universe.

What’s even cooler, I think, is that it solves a long dispute about the shape of the universe: is it open, closed, or flat? In cosmological terms, is the value of Omega equal to 1 or to something other than 1?

We’ve known for a long time that the value of Omega is pretty close to 1, and for that reason I’ve always suspected that the universe must be flat. It seemed an unlikely coincidence that out of all the possible values of Omega, it should be so close to 1 unless it really was 1 ? for fundamental reasons of some kind.

And so it is. MAP confirms that the universe is flat and is full of some kind of mysterious “dark energy” that acts as a sort of anti-gravity, pushing the universe apart. The universe is expanding, and it’s expanding at an ever increasing rate.

In other words, much like President Bush’s deficit….