Last night I watched History Channel’s The Universe: Beyond the Big Bang. I found it utterly fascinating and informative. This first sentence should explain exactly how much I actually understand about the science and mathematics of astronomy, namely a History Channel understanding, so please, please keep this in mind when replying. I’d be ever so grateful.
There are a gazillion questions this program raised with me but there are 3 which that I desperately need answers to before I can try to wrap my head around all this Universe stuff. Heck, I’m having a problem even forming the questions that I’d like answered. I’ll give it the old college try.
What is ‘the known universe’?
The show tossed around this phrase as if it was quite clear what the hell ‘the known universe’ is. Is it all that we can observe? And if it is, wouldn’t that make our idea of the known universe a couple of tens of thousands to millions of years out of date? Is it what scientists and mathematicians theoretically “know”? So that when astrologist say ‘the known universe’ they mean about as far as they can extrapolate from their equations?
The age of the Universe.
I can see why Einstein didn’t want to take that leap into an expanding universe and why Hoyle clung so desperately to Solid State. Our current understand of The Big Bang puts our universe at just shy of 14 billion years old. This number is waaaaay to small for me. I can get behind a finite universe if, say, the number of years involved is some number so huge that I can’t comprehend it. Like say a google to the tenth power. See that number there-- even though it is finite-- may as well be an eternity as for as I can tell.
But 14 billion years? That means that if the United States paid a dollar for every year that the universe and everything–I mean everything, even energy itself-- has existed, we’d never get close to paying off our national debt. There have got to be theories that make the universe much, much older than almost 14 billion years. Can anyone tell me what they could be?
- The edge of the universe.
I can totally wrap my mind around a universe with no center. All of the galaxies and stuff out there are rushing away from each other faster and faster, stretching time as it does so making things further away from us even further away than they are. Yeah, I can get behind that even though it doesn’t seem to make sense.
What I’m having a hard time reconciling is the edge. If there is no center, how can there be an edge? If there is an edge, what is it expanding into?
Without the answer to the questions, me and my feeble brain have come up with a theory that helps me try to grab on to these wispy concepts. I’d be glad when smarter people than I tell me what’s wrong with it.
You know that singularity that our universe started as? That thing was so heavy it folded space/time around itself and this universe is caught inside this wrapped space/time thingamabob. So, if you ever get to the edge of the universe, you’re at the folded space/time-- which puts you at the beginning, the center.