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From a UC Berkeley press release, June 2, 2016:

Astronomers have obtained the most precise measurement yet of how fast the universe is expanding at the present time, and it doesn’t agree with predictions based on other data and our current understanding of the physics of the cosmos. The discrepancy – the universe is now expanding 9 percent faster than expected – means either that measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation are wrong, or that some unknown physical phenomenon is speeding up the expansion of space, the astronomers say.

“If you really believe our number – and we have shed blood, sweat and tears to get our measurement right and to accurately understand the uncertainties – then it leads to the conclusion that there is a problem with predictions based on measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the leftover glow from the Big Bang,” said The Cosmos author Alex Filippenko, a co-author of a paper announcing the discovery. “Maybe the universe is tricking us, or our understanding of the universe isn’t complete.”

The cause could be the existence of another, unknown particle – perhaps an often-hypothesized fourth flavor of neutrino – or that the influence of dark energy (which accelerates the expansion of the universe) has increased over the 13.8 billion year history of the universe. Or perhaps Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the basis for the Standard Model, is slightly wrong.

“This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter and dark radiation,” said Nobel Laureate Adam Riess, the leader of the study. Riess is a former UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellow who worked with Filippenko. The results, using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck I telescope in Hawaii, will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Links: UC Berkeley press release with more details of the measurements; Hubble press release; the ApJ paper;

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From a UC Berkeley press release, July 20, 2015:

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation and its founder, internet investor Yuri Milner, have signed a contract with UC Berkeley to lead a major escalation in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The foundation has committed $100 million over 10 years to UC Berkeley and other participating institutions for a project called Breakthrough Listen, the most comprehensive scientific SETI project yet.

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation has already contracted with two of the world’s largest radio telescopes – the 100-meter Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the 64-meter Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia – to devote between 20 and 25 percent of their telescope time to searching for signals from other civilizations. The funding will also allow the Automated Planet Finder at the Lick Observatory near San Jose, CA, to search for optical laser signals from other planets.

For the Breakthrough Listen program, UC Berkeley will build high-speed digital electronics and high-bandwidth signal processing instruments to gather and analyze the radio and optical data collected by the telescopes, and will train the next generation of SETI scientists.

The program will generate vast amounts of data, all of which will be open to the public. Over time this could constitute the largest amount of scientific data ever made available to the public, according to the foundation.

Links: the full UC Berkeley press release, Breakthrough Listen homepage.