From the page: Findings by an international team of scientists using a telescope located at the U.S. Antarctic Program's South Pole Station show that cosmologists probably do know what they believe they know about the universe.
Their measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) -- a faintly glowing relic of the hot, dense, young universe -- confirm a significant prediction of the standard cosmological model. Specifically, their results show that dark matter and dark energy make up 95 percent of everything in existence, while ordinary matter makes up just 5 percent.
The standard cosmological model -- popularly known as the Big Bang -- is the prevailing theory behind the formation process of the cosmos. In part, it proposes that dark matter and dark energy, neither of which can be seen, dominate the universe. Dark matter is an entirely different kind of matter that appears to suffuse galaxies without interacting with the ordinary matter that makes up stars, planets and people.
The second component, dark energy, is the energy of empty space itself. The presence of dark energy means that the universe is not just expanding, but that the expansion is accelerating. The exact nature of dark energy is unknown, but it is possible that the acceleration will continue until it rips the universe apart -- billions of years into the future.
"When I first started in this field, some people were adamant that they understood the contents of the universe quite well," noted Sarah Church , deputy director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology , jointly located at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University .
"But that understanding was shattered when evidence for dark energy was discovered," added Church, the U.S. principal investigator of the South Pole QUaD telescope project . "Now that we again feel we have a very good understanding of what makes up the universe, it's extremely important for us to amass strong evidence using many different measurement techniques that this model is correct, so that this doesn't happen again."