### There really is a mysterious antigravity force. Einstein’s only mistake was in rejecting it.

By Michael D. Lemonick

If you want to get your mind around the research that won three astronomers the Nobel Prize in physics last week, it helps to think of the universe as a lump of dough — raisin-bread dough, to be precise — mixed, kneaded and ready to rise. Hold that thought.

Now consider Albert Einstein — not the wild-haired, elderly, absent-minded professor he became in his later years but a young, dashing scientist in his 30s. It’s 1916, and he’s just published his revolutionary general theory of relativity. It’s not necessary to understand the theory (thank goodness). You just have to accept that it gave scientists the mathematical tools they needed to forge a better understanding of the cosmos than they’d ever had.

There was just one problem. Relativity told physicists that the universe was restless. It couldn’t just sit there. It either had to be expanding or contracting. But astronomers looked, and as far as they could tell, it was doing neither. The lump of dough wasn’t rising, and it wasn’t shrinking.

The only way that was possible, Einstein realized, was if some mysterious force was propping up the universe, a sort of antigravity that pushed outward just hard enough to balance the gravity that was trying to pull it inward. Einstein hated this idea. An extra force meant he had to tinker with the equations of general relativity, but the equations seemed so perfect just as they were. Changing them in any way would tarnish their mathematical beauty…… Continue reading Why Einstein was wrong about being wrong →