May 05, 2007

Universe MUST Expand !

Mebius stripLying idly under the starry night sky, atop the rooftop of my village home, is a rewarding experience for me. It seems to instill upon me it's vastness, the same awesome infinite which inspired many a philosophers' souls. I, like every little kids, was also spellbound at the beauty of the universe. Where did it end, I used to ask myself ( I still do now!). I reasoned that if it ended somewhere, then what/where is it's boundary and more importantly, what is that boundary wall? If it ends, then what lies beyond can NOT be a part of the universe. If there is one universe, which is more appealing (and less appalling than the multi-universe concept), then it automatically suggests that the universe is expanding, because a static universe would mean that it has an end.

Universe is thought to have been created 12-14 billion years ago from a cataclysmic event called the 'Big Bang'. NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) measures the heterogeneity (anisotropy) in the temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). WMAP has determined how fast the universe is expanding. If you were curious about the oscillating 'cepheid variable stars' so far away from us, you may visit HubbleSite and may be see some videos there.

The occurrence of Big Bang may have been paraphrased by ancient religious scholars. Hindu sages' words ' tamaso ma jyotirgamaya' meaning from darkness (nothingness) to light (something); and 'let there be light' in Genesis, The Bible, are examples in point. What religion is doing on a science site can be understood when one considers what the great science fiction writer Isaac Assimov said: ""Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."" Now, lets navigate from spirituality to the realms of 'science' again.

Albert Einstein proposed the cosmological constant (to his repugnance) to fit into the theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe. He was fiercely against an expanding universe and the general theory of relativity needed a stationary universe to operate. But he knew that all the matter would attract each other and the universe would finally collapse. To remedy this he invented an anti-gravity force called the cosmological constant or the dark energy. It is not to be confused with dark matter which is attractive. Later, it was found out that the universe did expand, going by the observation of the Hubble redshift (due to moving of celestial objects away from the observer).

The expansion of the universe and its infiniteness is hard to comprehend. Einstein suggested that the space time was curved and if one started a journey he would come back to where he started from. One of the way it may be looked upon is in the form of the Moebius strip. This strip seems apparently unending.

Now if the universe is unending, then which/what is it expanding into? Then do we have to accept the existence of multiple universes? It's too mind boggling. We can not even employ something faster than light to investigate; for Einstein won't allow us to break the speed of light. So expecting that we will live that long to receive and (analyze) billions of miles (SORRY light years) away would be even beyond our wildest imaginations.

I sincerely think that this puzzle will remain unresolved. Immortality may be achieved by the help of stem cells, cloning of organ systems and (re) transplantation thereof and various other techniques, but the nebulous universe will probably continue to give us the slip!

Modified: April 1, 2009

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