Rick Ryan


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Why does the Universe look the same in all directions we look, considering an expanding Universe created by the Big Bang?

I've struggled to comprehend this. Looking away from the Earth, we are looking back into the history of the Universe's expansion since the Big Bang. Astronomers report that in any direction we look, at the farthest "distance and time" we can currently see, it appears there is a consistancy in what we see. Galaxies appear to be in the same "time state" of development, etc. If I carry this reasoning out to it's conclusion to where I can eventually see the edge of the Universe in all directions I look (assuming a finite Universe with a boundary), wouldn't that imply the Earth was actually at the center of the Universe? If the light coming back to me showing me the past is representing that in every direction I look I will see the same (time-wise) early state of the objects in the Universe, wouldn't I have to be in the center of it? If I wasn't centered, I should be seeing different "time states" of objects in the Universe depending on the direction I looked after the Big Bang expansion started.

I'm NOT asking this in a religious context. I'm NOT implying the Earth is actually in the center of our Universe to try to support any belief or faith. I'm looking for a theoretical physics explanation that will allow me to comprehend the observation without the Earth being centered in the Universe.

I just can't grasp the concept that if the Earth was a result of the Big Bang expansion, why does it LOOK like I'm in the center instead of off to the side closer to one edge of the Universe than the other? The probability of the Earth actually ending up in the center would be astronomical.

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    Sep 19 2012: You think you look like the center of everything because you can look out in all directions from that place you call you. But no matter what "corner" of the universe you happened to be in, the outlook would be the same. Everything has had about 13.7 billion years to "spread out" away from you, but the weird thing is that that would be true no matter what your starting point was. We all (all the galaxies) had the same starting point. But there are other tricks of perspective that the universe is playing with us: If we tried to go in a straight line, just like light through "empty" space, we would end up right where we started. So much for edges of the universe.

    By the way, don't worry. NOBODY understands this in a way that makes sense with our slower-than-light-speed way of seeing things as human beings. So when you wonder and puzzle over these questions, you are among good company (present and past).

    • Sep 19 2012: What's the source of your "straight line" theory? I'd like to look into it.
    • Sep 20 2012: Mark,
      you are right, it's really difficult if possible at all to understand , but you know, this gut feeling ... it prompts me that there is a point :)

      Thanks for sharing !
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        Sep 24 2012: Big Bang is most amazing to me because it implies to me that moon dust and you and I and distant galaxies are all things are basically the same stuff with a common origin and history.
        • Sep 25 2012: The idea ' what goes as one comes as many " is very old, actually. " I am the universe ; the universe is my body" This sacred intuition has been set in a scientific context, and that is quite recent . What puzzles me in BB theory is the idea of a beginning in no time/space zone out of nothing with no kind of intent . Maybe it is not a beginning and Bang is not necessary ?
          Frankly, i don't know :)
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    Sep 12 2012: Light coming from universe looks same age, because the observable region around us was formed about the same time, as our location. If you assume that universe is many more times larger than what we can see, and zoom out to view of universe as a sphere that fits on computer display, the region we can see would be about the size of a tiny dot.

    It is logical to assume that, in the future light from unseen parts of the universe will reach the Earth, thus become observable. However, light from distant parts of universe may never reach us because of the fact that space itself is expanding.

    It cannot be proven that the Earth is at the center of Universe, but neither that the Earth is not at the center. However, if a random point were to be chosen from a inside a sphere, probability of it being anywhere else but the center would be almost 1/1.

    All of the above was based on scientific thinking, but here is interesting analogy to observer of universe on Earth. If a hunter were to be lost in large forest that is heavily fogged, he would see trees all around at the same short distance. No matter how long he waits, he wouldn't be able to tell wether he was at the middle or the edge of the forest.
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      Sep 19 2012: Theodore,

      Thank you for that link! In all my readings and examples illustrating the balloon analogy, I never saw the explanation (or comprehended it) in the sense that the 2D balloon surface actually represented the 3D of space. I had the "fallacy" as explained in the link that the "interior" of the balloon was actually part of the Universe too.

      Feels great when someone helps in getting you to "think outside your own box" and understand concepts in a different way.

      This is not to say that any of the other posts here have not helped me to better understand the concept...they all have. But Theodore's link above is the big one that made the light bulb illuminate in my brain. And as a retired "teacher" in some disciplines, I am aware that it can take different ways of presenting something to a student before that light bulb illuminates.

      Thank you all !!!
      • Sep 23 2012: I have to admire you, you actually took the time to learn basic astrophysics. Not many would. My first reaction to your question was one of wounder as it is explained in astrophysics 101. Again my hat is off to you sir for having the will and courage to find the answer and then posting it here on TED
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    Sep 12 2012: In general, if you look in all directions at the stars and galaxies, if they are moving away from you the idea generated is that inflation is taking place, just like a balloon being inflated. if you put dots on the balloon to represent stars and galaxies, as you blow the balloon up, all the dots move apart from another. If you are on any dot, it would look like you were in the center and everything else is moving away from you.

    Bear in mind that the singularity is a three dimensional object. We can't tell where it was located because, of course, all things appear to be moving away from us. No matter where you are in the Universe. It would look the same to any observer.

    The calculation used is v = Hod

    (v) is the speed at which a galaxy moves away from us
    (d) is its distance.
    Ho is the constant of proportionality, now called the Hubble constant.

    The common unit of velocity used to measure the speed of a galaxy is km/sec, while the most common unit of for measuring the distance to nearby galaxies is called the Megaparsec (Mpc) which is equal to 3.26 million light years or 30,800,000,000,000,000,000 km! Thus the units of the Hubble constant are (km/sec)/Mpc.
  • Sep 1 2012: My favourite explanation of this phenomen is the balloon model with coins on its surface. The surface of balloon (2D space) represents our visible Universe and coins represent galaxies. In this model any coin looks like a center of expanding.

    But the most important in this model is the fact that the real center (of Universe) is not on the balloon surface (our 3D space). It is inside of the balloon (the 3rd dimension looking from balloon surface).

    Now, try to imagine a 4D sphere that expands. The surface of this sphere is our 3D Universe that is expanding too. And is expanding in the same way in all (3D) direction you look. You can't find the center, because it is in the middle of the 4D expanding sphere. Only if you look in the past at the time of Big bang, the radius of this sphere becomes zero and the center and the 3D surface meet in a single point.
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    Sep 1 2012: I've been asking this question since the 50's.
    Around 1920, no one realized that what they called the Universe was actually the Milky Way galaxy. Imagine that! When Einstein was creating the General Theory of Relativity, his generation thought the Universe was no larger than a Galaxy.

    I guess it was around the late 60's when the general population understood that the Milky Way Galaxy was just one of many Galaxies. Today, the average 7th grader knows more about the Universe than Einstein's entire Generation.

    But, help is on the horizon. You may have your answer soon. If you can understand this information.

    If not you'll just have to speculate. There is no current map of the universe.

    This is one very big question.
    Good luck.
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    Aug 31 2012: Thanks all (so far). The ideas presented have already allowed me to reconsider things I hadn't considered about my question. For instance, my "see to the edge of the Universe" part. I hadn't considered WHAT I would see if I could do that. "Rationally" I thought I would be seeing a "boundary" (edge?) of a finite Universe, even though it was still expanding. But since I am looking back in time, if I could ever actually do that to end up "seeing" the "beginning", I would actually have to end up seeing the singularity itself that started it all. Which is now even more thought-provoking to me. I would see the singularity in every direction I looked? (I know technically I couldn't see the singularity itself, if I accepted that even light itself was created after the singularity "exploded").

    I was familiar with the Red Shift concept before I posted the question, but not in the way some of the answers here provided. Same thing with the "quarters on a balloon" perspective...I had seen that before, but now have a different idea of what it was trying to explain.

    Keep any other ideas coming. They have all been very enlightening to me for forming a better understanding of the Big Bang concept.
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      Sep 20 2012: Maybe better not to think of space nor time as something vast and static but rather imaginary.

      Probably you've been dreaming some nights in a vivid way where you moved through some space and acted out all sorts of things. Where do you think that space is, in your head?

      Another more intellectual approach is time. If light needs time to travel than all you see occupies another time, the star you see but not different also anything close. So from your point of perspective within space/time (singularity) you watch anything occupying another space/time. So you see history displayed before and around you. So it's not that all galaxies move from you but you move from everything else. And if I say you I don't refer to that body you occupy but to the center of your consciousness that projects that universe.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 31 2012: If you suspend a tiny being with good eye sight (the size of a marble) in the ocean, about a half mile down and somewhere in the South Pacific, it will be able to perceive itself as being in the center of all that is. (Remember that our measurement is based on the average height of a man, so the little marble-sized being's half mile would be a tiny fraction of our half-mile. We, who live outside of that tiny being's "reality" can see more than it can thus we can know more.

    I have had a physicist say that every point IS the center, because all that is is an expansion of a singularity meaning that we are living in an expanded singularity. This can be supported by considering the notion of "SpaceTime". There is only one time that every being has in common. That is the infinite moment of NOW. That abstract moment is our bond with everything else in existence.

    PS: I'm not a theoretical physicist, but I do love pondering questions like these.
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      Aug 31 2012: Excellent example, and one idea I myself had developed after I began scuba diving earlier in my life. On one dive I was deep enough that I couldn't see the surface above me anymore, and I had a "realization" at that moment like, "How big would the fish next to me think the Universe was from it's perspective?" If it could never "see" (observe) or experience what was beyond the surface of the water above it, it could only hypothesize about what might be beyond it's own ability to determine the "real" size of "the" whole Universe.
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        Gail .

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        Aug 31 2012: And that's the issue. Most people who hear the word "universe" think that we know how big it is, but we don't. We are learning about the "observable" universe. It must be amazing to be so far down that you can't see the surface.
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    Sep 27 2012: (Continued)

    5. Now, even though the farthest galaxy I can "see" now appears to be only 400 million years old, if I was actually standing on THAT galaxy looking out in all directions "right now", I would actually be looking out from a galaxy that WAS 14 billion years old since the Big Bang. The Universe around me from THAT perspective would appear to be 14 billion years old in all directions I looked. So I would "see" the same "sights" in whatever direction I looked from there too. Using the same "equipment to look", the farthest galaxy away I woud see is 400 million years old, and "behind that" (sic) would be the same Comsmic Background Radiation barrier because the Universe had expanded (inflated) the same way it did from my first perspective "here".

    6. The above is the crux of what you were all saying about "the Observable Universe". Regardless of where my initial frame of reference starts out at, and due to a continually expanding (inflating) Universe, my Observable Universe would essentially give the same results for any observer wherever they were observing from since the Big Bang.

    Totally layman's explanations above. The advanced math at the higher levels is a limitation for me, but I do understand some of it. The above explanations are the best I can do from my Common Core of Experience level about it all, though.

    Thoughts, critiques, or totally frustrated "He's Confused Yet!" replies welcome.

    (I'm Done. Fire Away With Replies)
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    Sep 27 2012: OK all, I've used all your replies to search for more info on the 'net. Found lots of good stuff, and I think I may have a better comprehension of it all now. So because this thread will close in less than 2 days, I'm going to post here a "My New Understanding of It All" summary. Bear in mind it is going to come out "layman", so try not to laugh too much. Critiques (or even "That's Close Enough!") greatly appreciated. (This will take more than one post, so wait until you see "I'm Done!" at the bottom of the last series of these posts).

    1. The farthest back into the history of the Universe I could hope to "see" woukl be limited by the age of the Universe itself and the speed of "light" (or more precisely, "light energy").

    2. Based on the estimated age of the Universe since the Big Bang and the speed of "light energy", the FARTHEST "light energy" that is "visible" is the Cosmic Background Radiation barrier, but that is not part of my "visual spectrum" because it is Microwave Radiation. We can detect it will instruments, but the graphical representation of it is a "visible light spectrum" picture we produce ourselves (the "Map" picture).

    3. Any "matter" objects I could actually see with my eyes in the visible light spectrum would be younger than the Cosmic Background Radiation barrier. As of today according to an Internet site, we just compiled a picture that shows galaxies that appear to be in the state they were at around 400 million years old after the Big Bang. Red Shift plays a role in seeing anything in the visible light spectrum younger than that as of today.

    4. Because of an inflationary Universe, the Universe would be much "larger" that I could perceive it today. I can only "see" as far back as the amount of time it took for the light energy to get to me now. So (roughly) I don't have to actually be in the center of anythinjg to see the same thing in any directon I look (age of the Universe-wise).

    (Continued in next post)
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    Sep 27 2012: In your question you ask " If the light coming back to me showing me the past is representing that in every direction I look I will see the same (time-wise) early state of the objects in the Universe, wouldn't I have to be in the center of it?"
    You are assuming the answer is yes, the data puts us in the center of the universe. But the answer is no. The data puts us in the center of _our observable universe_. An infinite Universe seems incomprehensible to the human mind. If an event described as 'the big bang' occurred, it occurred in an infinite space. And in that space the speed of light is a constant in constant environments. That is it has one speed in a vacuum and another through a solid. But it has these speeds everywhere within the infinite Universe. What has changed is the precision and accuracy of our astronomical instruments. They are more capable now that before. They can see light that has come from farther away. All the light from 13 billion light years in any direction is arriving here after a 13 billion year journey. But 13 billion light years _beyond_ those galaxies lay other galaxies which are at this moment receiving light after a 13 billion year journey.
    There is no center in the infinite Universe. This is incomprehensible to the human mind.
    We want our starting points. We want our centers and boundaries. Our needs are based in our evolutionary history and our current psychology.
    If an asteroid or comet somehow became sentient, it would have different needs and perceptions. In the hundreds of years of its journey around the Sun, only the lights in the black of space change regularly. Only once every thousands or millions of years is an impact on its surface noticed. Its concept of time would be totally different than ours. Perhaps the thought "I am moving" would take months to form in its mind. Perhaps it would believe it was at the center and would think "Everything goes around me."
  • Sep 25 2012: There was no Bang, no explosion. That is a misunderstanding.
    There was an expansion, a Singularity or from a Singularity.
    and there are several Big Bang theories and several Singularity theories.


    Anyway, infinity is only a mirror image of eternity, thus it appears closed, flat and open all at the same time.
    Distances seem immense and measurements accurate, but it is all happening in a mirror (image) and thus also appears to be infinite.

    This mirror is created by mass that is great enough to bend light, creating what is known as Gravitational Lensing.
    This has been seen from the outside of distant galaxies and the lensing is very clear to see.
    But, just as within a large galaxy, or within our universe itself, there is a tremendous amount of light, light traveling through space, but it cannot be seen because there is little for it to reflect off of.

    But still, there is so much, and the mass of the universe is so great, that it bends this light, creates a mirror-lensing image or effect "within the universe" (just as within large distant galaxies, and as seen from "outside" those galaxies), and viola! we have a mirroring effect that reflects eternity, which looks like infinity and appears so large and vast but is much smaller than what we believe or think we know it to be.

    You seem to be the center because you cannot go anywhere in a mirror or image and you see reflections. You cannot leave it or you will cease to exist. And there is no destiny to go to. It looks like it exists over something called 'time" yet in reality, there is no such thing.

    There is just another image going on into infinity and thus the creation of what is now being believed to be the "Holographic Universe" in which each part contains the whole.

    It's all a maze.........................................................................................................ZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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    Sep 25 2012: i am the universe ;the universe is my body .how can you say that .
    and Bang is not necessary of course just a cup of tea .a better life
  • Sep 24 2012: The expansion is happening everywhere, so everywhere is the center of the universe. We just happen to be stuck on Earth.

    Another way to put it is, we are moving just as fast away from other things in the universe as things are moving away from us. Hence, there is no center of the universe.
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    Sep 24 2012: I think your observations are limited by "earth rules" and don't necessarily apply to the universe.

    Let's take a look.

    1) There's no way of knowing since our eyes, even with great help, can only see so far.
    2) Nature has told us so much about the universe...I think we look up too often.
    3) I don't believe any validity exists to the "big bang".

    Why do we believe the "big bang".

    Well because we assume the only way we could have produced this sort of state...is through a massive release of energy like a "bang".

    Let me point out that "bangs" or "explosions" do not create universal law when they occur.

    When stars die, transform, or do whatever they do...it doesn't seem as it fit creates habitable planets in the process.

    I gauge my perception on nature. As sensitive as nature is..and fragile...we came from a universe that adapts by exploding and creating "states" that life isn't even an option?

    Maybe the model for the solar system was wrong.

    Maybe the Earth sits still...and all other matter rotates around it?
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    Sep 24 2012: Try looking up "The fingers of God" it's a perspective effect that makes the filamental structure of galaxial clusters look like they are stretching away or pointing towards us.
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    Sep 24 2012: Rick, Certainly not my area of expertse ... there are stars that are waxing and waning. We see novas in all areas. I am aware that there are different hemispheres and within each different star groups. A American Indian Tribe believes that we are the center of the universe. If you consider that everything we seee and learn is from our prospective then I guess that it is true, we are point zero.

    I think I was put here to confuse the issues. How am I doing. LOL Bob.
  • Sep 23 2012: Isn't the entire galaxy we live in moving as fast as the rest of the universe ?
    If yes,that tells me why it looks the same.
    As for the big bang-seeing as we know really nothing yet,it is just another idea waiting for the truth.
    • Sep 23 2012: "....waiting for the truth". A very good comprehension, Mr. Kinsman.

      Perhaps the best and most honest conclusion is we see the cosmos from a narrow and extremely limited perspective. There likely are many universes within the Universe. What is man that we expect to see it all? What is man to even think a human someday will see it all while yet remaining human? What is man to expect to see stereoscopic perspectives of anything of this vast assemblage of planets, stars, masses of gas and particles?

      Maybe its best to accept we, as individuals, will move on to other levels of life far above human and with such advances we will have opportunities to see more, perhaps a lot more and from an entirely different perspective! Imagine that! What realities await us for the next life?
      • Sep 24 2012: The only constant is change. I heard that a few moons ago.
        Energy cannot be destroyed,it can be altered.That explains life & death to me.We just see the sun rise from a new angle.
        Simple thoughts from a simple mind.
        Nothing is really that complicated,however those explanations can be a bit long winded .
        Science keeps proving to me that the words of my grandma are true."All is connected".
  • Sep 20 2012: there is all so , things that are moving away from us appear to slow down yet to them we appear to slow down. both cant be right so it is safe to say both are wrong. i am not slowing down the light is lagging. remember we only see light as means of survival. it is not the best way to see things , ask a dolphin or a bat. sound waves are a vibration like light only with much more information at a slower rate. but as we have yet to figure out how to get sound to work with no air we cant really use that to explore space. im thinking gravity. or atomic number. if we had a way to see the atomic number of all mater in essence we would be able to count every living thing down to single cell creatures on this planet just from its atomic number footprint. but light is sloppy its like Ingrish /cough English take the word 2,to,two,too, all sound the same but vary different as far as space and the expansion there of we need much more information and from more than our little pin hole view from Earth.
  • Sep 20 2012: thats like saying why don't a tooth pic burn as long as a big log of hard wood. a sun the same mass as ours and made of different materiel would burn at a different rate, temp and color. same as a star the same composite as Sol but 1/2 its size would burn out quicker, or not as hot. being gravity is the only constant in the universe not all stars are the same. i would say you would be hard pressed to find one same size and make up as Sol out of the untold trillion stars. then there is what part of space are they in is there orientation to us accost the grain or parallel with it? there is way to many variables. ok wen a sparkler is lit its ok to say some of the sparks will shoot off about 6 inches before burning out and some will only go 3 inches before you can no longer see there brightness and some still to be ignited. but they all were made at the same time. now also given the distance we are talking about and everything's expanding at the same rate. remember the objects in space are not spreading out in to the space. the space it self is doing the expanding. Janna said if you took a balloon and with a marker put dots on it , then put air in the balloon the dots will stay proportionate in there orientation with one another but the space between all is expanding. but the topology of space is all so still unknown. and light can be bent by gravity. so what we think we are looking at may be 40* different from where it actually is. and like air over a planes wing grater distance traveled changes things differently in relation to things moving in a more direct path. so in other words if you cut accost the grain in space and not fallow the topology you would think you should get there faster but in reality you will arrive much later. this has to do with micro fluctuations in the vibration of spacetime and the very-ant of temperatures time moves slower in absolute 0 than even 1/2 of a degree warmer.
  • Sep 19 2012: Does anybody challenge Bing Bang theory ?
    It requires a good deal of belief ; it can't be tested, can't be explained, but it is necessary for everything that have fallowed to be explained and tested .
    Seems like a free scientific miracle to me :)
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      Sep 19 2012: Using that logic, I can say the same thing about a Deity-created Universe too then. It requires I start "now", look "back" to try to determine everything that has followed since a "beginning", then try to answer the question about the true beginning itself. Eventually, I have the same problems you describe about the Big Bang, don't I?

      I can't test the beginning, nor explain the beginning, but it is still necessary for me to do so if I want the truth about it. So I have no choice except to place a great deal of "belief" in it.

      Seems fairly miraculous to me to be doing that, too.

      Just because a Human Being can't presently comprehend something that happened doesn't mean a miracle occured. Ask any magician how that works.
      • Sep 20 2012: Are there any other options ?
        I don't believe in the Holly Other either. Did we move any further from the Cartesian mindset, 'Right vs Wrong' kind of thinking ?
        I guess, we did, we have fuzzy logic, fractal geometry , Mandelbrot set , holographic image and QM . All these things do not provide with the answer but generate another attitude. Magic mystery, reverence are not alien to it and no way contradict science. There is no need to believe in anything, the answer is here, what is the right question ?
        I wish i knew :)
    • Sep 19 2012: "Does anybody challenge Bing Bang theory ?
      It requires a good deal of belief ; it can't be tested, can't be explained,"

      It can be falsified, that's enough, also, Rick Ryan wrote a pretty good reply on a philosophical level.
      • Sep 20 2012: We don't have a commonality of understanding, and maybe it's a good thing. I wouldn't mark any understanding as false, not knowing what is the right one :)
  • Sep 18 2012: It is beacuse the universe may be infinite
    and therefore, in a way, we are at the centre
    since in every possible direction outward from the earth we have the same "distance" of.... infinity

    On the other hand infinity may alsobe a relative measure
    since an infinitely large body would necessarily find itself in a finite universe
    no one really knows, or do they....
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    Sep 18 2012: Does the question assume that we are at the center of the universe?
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      Sep 19 2012: I'm not sure if you were asking me your question (as the orginator of the topic), but no, it doesn't.

      Quite the opposite. I was asking why it would APPEAR we were in the center, as that just seemed astronomically incredible. As an aside, I'm agnostic, so I'm not trying to "prove" anything one way or another.
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        Sep 24 2012: Hey Rick, Theodore,
        As far as APPEARANCE is concerned, I think it's an important observation that the night sky is mostly dark. If space were infinite (in Euclidean geometric terms) we would see an infinite number of stars which would cover every possible piece of sky.

        With every question and every answer, no matter how fleeting or partial, awe and wonder seem to be appropriate responses.

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          Sep 24 2012: I was under the impression that was still considered a paradox and the fact the night sky was dark did not necessarily support a finite Universe. There is still debate about it.

          Am I missing something? Does it have to do with your condition of a Euclidean geometric observartion?

  • Sep 17 2012: As the universe is very large, so far as I know, there is enough of it that we cannot see the edges.
    As to why it looks like we are in the center, there is an interesting talk by a theoretical cosmologist that I found interesting which specifically talks about why we look like we are in the center (look for the slide where there are two grids of dots). His context in the talk was how we could measure that the universe is expanding. Note that the speaker has several books published, so if his talk is helpful, he may have other materials which may interest you.


    Consider also the analoggy of being lost in a large orchard. The rows of trees seem to go on for a very long way, even if you are closer to one edge or another. I will depend on how much of the orchard is visible to you.
  • Sep 14 2012: Google "balloon analogy"
  • Sep 3 2012: first up , earth is not the center of the universe .. we are just too human to look beyond a particular point out there .. obviously we are looking at the past of other bodies of the universe .. but the distances are so huge for us newer species that we cant possibly find an edge of vast empty spaces because there is speed and time involved that eventually allow us to understand the distance .. now, if u were to stand in a big field and look around everywhere and just try and analyse the distance between u and them , the only thing that really gives u an idea of the distance between u and other places is the speed with which the place falls in your vision .. so look outside .. take a look at the so called empty patch of the universe and you will find out that there is an overwhelming number of things available in a small empty patch .. i guess what i am trying to say is that due to our incpabilities of looking beyond a point we feel that we are at the center .. the fact obviously is something else !! if u were to say that with the naked eye you can look upto a kilometer, now if u look around you will obviously feel in the center .. but actually u r not in the center of the area but ur vision is limited !!
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    Gord G

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    Sep 1 2012: Interesting. I asked the same question regarding coffee shops. Why do I see Starbucks in every direction I look? Am I the centre of the coffee universe? Okay ...I'm kidding.

    It seems simple enough. We define the universe... so why should we be surprised we're at the centre of it? Okay I'm still kidding.

    But if you find the answer, let me know, I have a couple of parking tickets that I would like to avoid paying. (now I'm just being abstruse). Good night. ;-)
  • Sep 1 2012: The expansion of space itself is much faster than light. Even if we were on the edge of the Universe and we looked out through powerful telescopes, there would be no end in sight. Space is expanding too quickly.
  • Aug 31 2012: IF you youtube Lawrence Krauss and a video of "how the universe could come from nothing", he describes what you are asking in a easily understandable manner. I need it to be easy, but I cannot paraphrase right now for you, nor do I have the link. Sorry.

    Well here goes and I feel foolish.
    I think it is all a mirror effect and that infinity is only a mirror image of eternity so it appears to go on and on.
    Perhaps in that, distances and speeds and so forth, can be measured but they are fooling us all because it all comes from reflection.

    If something has enough mass, it can and does bend light and space. This is called "gravitational lensing" and can show multiple images of one thing so that they look like hundreds of thousands of similar things, many different views of one thing, such as in cut crystal glass, that when you look through it, you see many separate images and can also make things look as though they are at different distances away.

    The universe is big enough to do this and if there is enough light in the universe, and there is, then it could easily create a reflection of itself because all the light is bent, curved around itself, within itself and reflects itself or, what is there.

    There, I wrote it out even though I feel like a child for saying it.
    • Aug 31 2012: Whenever I contemplate the vastness of the universe, I feel like a child.
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    Aug 30 2012: Hi Rick.
    This is a great question. I am sure the boffins have answers, but nobody thinks to explain it to us interested amateurs.
    Firstly I don't think we can be at the centre of a big bang. Everything would theoretically be moving away from the centre of an explosion, leaving, presumably, nothing at the centre.

    When I first heard of red shift, I, like you, assumed that we were near the middle. However this was explained by picturing the surface of an expanding balloon idea. We all see everything with an equal red shift, no matter where we are. This is all very well, but surely if we looked outward, directly away from the centre, we would see nothing. No galaxies at all. This doesn't make sense.

    Then we have something called "Quantised Red Shift'. This theory, backed by measurements, suggests that the galaxies are in concentric spheres at set distances from earth. This would infer once again that we are in the centre.

    Finally, others tell us that the 'far away' galaxies look much the same as those 'closer' to us. They should of course look 'younger' the farther away they are.

    What do I think ? Don't really know, but suspect that maybe our interpretation of 'Red Shift' could be off target.


    Ps; I am a Christian, which may effect my perspective.
  • Jon Ho

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    Aug 30 2012: In General Relativity, it is called Doppler Shift Effect. Let us do some thought experiment.

    Imagine a mail train travelling at 80 mph. Now, imagine you, traveling on a passenger train that goes 100 mph, trying to overtake that mail train. You will see, feel, and think that your passenger train is really slow as it seems to take forever to overtake that mail train. But to observers standing outside near the train tracks, they will see your passenger train zooming past the mail train.

    So, if you can somehow elevate your consciousness to a higher plane and look down on the universe, you will see that some parts are moving away faster and further than other parts of the universe, depending on where you are.

    Or.... go with Edward Long's explanation no 2. Except, instead of an expanding balloon, imagine our universe as a timey-wimey, tesseract thingy.
    • Sep 18 2012: not quite right there... observers standing near the train tracks will see two trains zooming past and might notice one is slightly faster thant the other, the faster train will not in fact seem to zoom past the slower one
      • Jon Ho

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        Sep 19 2012: Alrighty then, if you say so. ;)
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    Aug 30 2012: This is a very interesting thread. Though, there are those that would affix a long hypothesis to the question, I could only offer my humble opinion as just a man, as I am not a Physics Theorist, and I should hope my thoughts will help you see a different point of view... no pun intended. ^.^

    While it is true that the Big Bang is a theory, it is just that; a theory, and from what I understand about it, is that everything is moving away from each other in a steady and slow fashion based on our current perception of time. Interesting the thought that time is relevant to perception isn't it? Some scientists have even said that space itself is made up of a fabric of time, and that it can be torn, or manipulated. Of course, those are all theories as well. To consider that time itself can be manipulated by perception, then why can't anything else be too? It is interesting that some religions such as Buddhism, would say that your perception is your reality, and that you get to choose what you see, and what you don't see. Also, what you HAVE in your life, and what you DON'T HAVE in your life. This is pure speculation on my behalf, but as we move within our galaxy, there is only so far that we can perceive into space, before time changes, and that very fabric that Einstein had been speaking of, alters itself somehow. I imagine it would have to do with who is perceiving it, and where they are perceiving it from.

    It is my thought that it is mainly an illusion that you speak of my curious friend. I am just as curious to wonder if, even though it is an illusion, what is real if you only have what you perceive to be true? The limits of science are extensive in my opinion to prove either circumstance, but one thing I can gather from your question is that while we have brilliant scientists, and further our technology everyday, these answers will probably not be answered before the end of our planet in my humble opinion.
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    Aug 29 2012: I'm not saying I buy this, but I have heard it explained two ways:
    1) As a loaf of raisin bread cooks in the oven every raisin gets further away from every other raisin, so to each raisin it looks like every raisin is moving away from it while it is not moving.
    2) Glue coins along the length of a rubber strip, or on the surface of an uninflated balloon. As the strip is stretched., or the balloon inflated, the distance between each coin will grow, but when viewed from any particular coin it will look like you are stationary and all the other coins are moving.
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    Aug 29 2012: Well here's quick exercise to show how expansion makes us appear to be the center of the universe.
    So firstly the distance between the galaxies is so huge that we'd never notice ourselves actually moving, we only detect the movement of other galaxies via their redshift and from our perspective it's as if we're stationary.
    Ok so given then, get two pieces of paper and a pen.
    1. on one piece draw a 5x5 grid of dots on one piece of paper with equal spaces of 2 centimeters between each dot in both vertical and horizontal axis.
    2. On the second piece of paper draw the same 5x5 grid of dots but with the spaces doubled up to 4centimeters between each dot.
    3. Randomly pick any dot on the small grid and match it up to it's corresponding dot on the big grid. Hold the pieces of paper up to a light to make sure you can see through the paper.
    What you should see is that every dot seems to be moving away from the dot you picked. This will happen with no matter what dot you pick. So say the dots are galaxies and the dot you pick is us fixed relatively to ourselves. This explains how no matter where you are in the universe you could conclude that you are at the center of the universe as no matter where you are everything seems to be moving away from you.
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    Aug 29 2012: Would this help,though just by reading your Q you might have already come across this effect discussed somewhere.