Relative to the "Basic Questions" theme of this blog, I would heartily recommend that you read various online Scientific American articles. The following two articles in particular are very cogent summaries of several aspects of cosmology that I've mentioned in earlier posts, and they're well worth a read:
- Misconceptions about the Big Bang - Baffled by the expansion of the universe? You're not alone. Even astronomers frequently get it wrong. ... Expansion is a beguilingly simple idea, but what exactly does it mean to say the universe is expanding? What does it expand into? Is Earth expanding, too? To add to the befuddlement, the expansion of the universe now seems to be accelerating, a process with truly mind-stretching consequences. ... The universe does not seem to have an edge or a center or an outside, so how can it expand?
- The Universe's Invisible Hand - Dark energy does more than hurry along the expansion of the universe. It also has a stranglehold on the shape and spacing of galaxies. ... Scientists are just starting the long process of figuring out what dark energy is and what its implications are. One realization has already sunk in: although dark energy betrayed its existence through its effect on the universe as a whole, it may also shape the evolution of the universe's inhabitants--stars, galaxies, galaxy clusters. Astronomers may have been staring at its handiwork for decades without realizing it.