Everything that we know and can sense may only account for a measly 4 percent of the universe. Everything else? It’s dark. Either dark matter or dark energy. It can’t be seen or even sensed by any instrument that we’ve been able to design. So how do we know it’s there?
Richard Panek answers that question in his book "The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality." Panek’s not a scientist, he’s a creative writer, meaning he focuses on the human narrative behind the discovery of the other 96 percent of the universe.
Richard Panek teaches creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont. He’s also a New York Foundation for the Arts Nonfiction Literature fellow and has received an Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant from the National Science Foundation. He came to Town Hall on January 25, 2011. His talk focused on the story of who discovered the hidden universe, as well as the science itself.