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The Universe - infinite or not ?

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Chronos
#37
May11-11, 01:07 AM
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infinity loses meaning nestled amongst a multiverse of infinities, imo - aside from the fact the concept of infinity is unmeaningful to begin with. Everything in nature has relational meaning.
Neandethal00
#38
May11-11, 05:08 PM
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Infinity does not exist.
Let me phrase it the right way,
to humans infinity can not exist for any physical reality, because of our sensory systems.
bcrowell
#39
May11-11, 05:24 PM
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FAQ: Is the universe finite, or is it infinite?

Standard cosmological models come in two flavors, open and closed. The open type has negative spatial curvature and infinite spatial volume. The closed one has positive curvature and finite spatial volume; spatially, it is the three-dimensional analog of a sphere. Since both types are mathematically self-consistent solutions to the Einstein field equations, the finiteness or infiniteness of the universe is something that cannot be determined by solely logic but only by observation.

Current observations of the cosmic microwave background's anisotropy show that our universe is very nearly spatially flat (on the cosmological scale). If it is exactly flat, then it is a special case lying between the more general open and closed cases. The flat case has infinite volume. However, the range of uncertainty in the curvature is wide enough to be consistent with either positive or negative curvature, so right now the finiteness or infiniteness of the universe is an open question.

Sometimes people use the word "universe" when they really mean "observable universe." The observable universe is finite in volume because light has only had a finite time to travel since the Big Bang.
Chronos
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May11-11, 10:36 PM
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Good summary, bcrowell. An FAQ would be useful with a decent index.
ViewsofMars
#41
May11-11, 10:50 PM
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The European Space Agency (ESA) Science and Technology: Glossary

Universe
Everything that exists. The size of the observable Universe is determined by the distance light has travelled since the Universe was formed in the Big Bang, 12 - 15 billion years ago.

http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/obj...bodylongid=950
I think the ESA's glossary is quite informative.
Mutsi
#42
May12-11, 04:30 AM
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Quote Quote by Mentat View Post
Well, for all practical purposes, it may have the potential to continue expanding infinitely. However, it will never reach infinity (if it is finite now), and so cannot really be "on the verge of infinity".
Isnt it so that Dark Matter used to be stronger then Dark Energy ? And that the universe was contracting. How is it possible to state that the universe will keep expending perhaps the strenght of DM and DE cycle.
Cosmo Novice
#43
May12-11, 08:23 AM
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This question may be the final unanswerable - obviously the OU is finite and measurable, anything outside of our OU can never be quantified. Assuming the Universe is spacially flat and homogeneous then cosmological models dictate an infinite size along its x,y,z axis.

However does time factor into this? As the second law of thermodynamics dictates the arrow of time moves only forwards then when the universe approaches the end of its life - as I understand it once matter and energy becomes seperated and diffuse to the point the universe is in final heat death? Is this plausable given infinite energy and matter states?

If something expands inifinitely then while it is not infinite at any given moment it will expand to an an infinite size over infinite time but is this relevant as cosmo models indicate the final end of the universe will be a heat death?
Chronos
#44
May16-11, 12:33 AM
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Olber's paradox refutes the infinitely old, spacious and star filled universe idea. The CMB refutes the old wives tale of infinite age all on its own.
bcrowell
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May16-11, 12:50 AM
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Quote Quote by Cosmo Novice View Post
This question may be the final unanswerable - obviously the OU is finite and measurable, anything outside of our OU can never be quantified.
Anything outside of our observable universe can certainly be quantified. Just wait a while, and it will be inside our observable universe.

Quote Quote by Cosmo Novice View Post
Assuming the Universe is spacially flat and homogeneous then cosmological models dictate an infinite size along its x,y,z axis.
We can measure the universe's spatial curvature, so why assume it?
Chronos
#46
May16-11, 03:34 AM
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How can anything outside the observable universe ever be quantified? I strongly disagree. Perhaps the source of our disagreement resides in the definition of what constitutes 'observable'.
ViewsofMars
#47
May16-11, 12:22 PM
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Mutsi brought up Dark Matter. I'd like to present the lastest about it. April 14, 2011 from the Weizmann Institute of Science:

An International team of scientists in the XENON collaboration, including several from the Weizmann Institute, announced on Thursday the results of their search for the elusive component of our universe known as dark matter. This search was conducted with greater sensitivity than ever before. After one hundred days of data collection in the XENON100 experiment, carried out deep underground at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory of the INFN, in Italy, they found no evidence for the existence of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles – or WIMPs – the leading candidates for the mysterious dark matter. The three candidate events they observed were consistent with two they expected to see from background radiation. These new results reveal the highest sensitivity reported as yet by any dark matter experiment, while placing the strongest constraints on new physics models for particles of dark matter. Weizmann Institute professors Eilam Gross, Ehud Duchovni and Amos Breskin, and research student Ofer Vitells, made significant contributions to the findings by introducing a new statistical method that both increases the search sensitivity and enables new discovery.

Any direct observation of WIMP activity would link the largest observed structures in the Universe with the world of subatomic particle physics. While such detection cannot be claimed as yet, the level of sensitivity achieved by the XENON100 experiment could be high enough to allow an actual detection in the near future. What sets XENON100 apart from competing experiments is its significantly lower background radiation, which is 100 times lower, greatly reducing the potential obscuring of any dark matter signal. The XENON100 detector, which uses 62 kg of liquid xenon as its WIMP target, and which measures tiny charges and light signals produced by predicted rare collisions between WIMPs and xenon atoms, continues its search for WIMPs. New data from the 2011 run, as well as the plan to build a much larger experiment in the coming years, promise an exciting decade in the search for the solution to one of nature's most fundamental mysteries.

Cosmological observations consistently point to a picture of our universe in which the ordinary matter we know makes up only 17% of all matter; the rest – 83% – is in an as yet unobserved form – so-called dark matter. This complies with predictions of the smallest scales; necessary extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics suggest that exotic new particles exist, and these are perfect dark matter candidates. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) are thus implied in both cosmology and particle physics. An additional hint for their existence lies in the fact that the calculated abundance of such particles arising from the Big Bang matches the required amount of dark matter. The search for WIMPs is thus well-founded; a direct detection of such particles would provide the central missing piece needed to confirm this new picture of our Universe.

Please read on. . .

http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/exp...k-matter-range
Cosmo Novice
#48
May16-11, 04:04 PM
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Quote Quote by bcrowell View Post
Anything outside of our observable universe can certainly be quantified. Just wait a while, and it will be inside our observable universe.


We can measure the universe's spatial curvature, so why assume it?
Well objects that come inside our OU will eventually be outside our OU once their recession >C. So while our OU may be growing now, at some point our OU will begin to shrink. as galaxies at the edge of our OU begin to recede >C.

Also while we can measure spatial curvature the degree of error still lends to pos,neg or flat curvature.

Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
How can anything outside the observable universe ever be quantified? I strongly disagree. Perhaps the source of our disagreement resides in the definition of what constitutes 'observable'.
Do cosmo models not dictate an isotropic and homogenous U with only local variance - which does specifically quantify the unobservable by measuring the unobservable affect on the OU? So effectively although cosmo models are saying 'its just more of the same' then they can still safely make this quantifying assumption?
narrator
#49
May17-11, 07:30 AM
P: 219
Infinity question: If we headed directly into space traveling at many times the speed of light (ignoring for a moment that you can't travel that fast), maintaining exactly the same course for the whole trip, would or could we eventually find ourselves heading back to Earth?
Cosmo Novice
#50
May17-11, 08:28 AM
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Quote Quote by narrator View Post
Infinity question: If we headed directly into space traveling at many times the speed of light (ignoring for a moment that you can't travel that fast), maintaining exactly the same course for the whole trip, would or could we eventually find ourselves heading back to Earth?
This would depend entirely on the topology of U. If Euclidean and infinite then not as you would just travel indefintely.

If U was an n-sphere then yes.

I am sure someone can elaborate further but as this is off topic you may be better starting a fresh thread.
narrator
#51
May17-11, 08:35 AM
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Quote Quote by Cosmo Novice View Post
I am sure someone can elaborate further but as this is off topic you may be better starting a fresh thread.
Will do, thanks ;)
George Jones
#52
May17-11, 01:52 PM
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Quote Quote by bcrowell View Post
Anything outside of our observable universe can certainly be quantified. Just wait a while, and it will be inside our observable universe.
If dark energy really is like a cosmological constant, then this isn't true for ours universe.
Quote Quote by Cosmo Novice View Post
Well objects that come inside our OU will eventually be outside our OU once their recession >C. So while our OU may be growing now, at some point our OU will begin to shrink. as galaxies at the edge of our OU begin to recede >C.
I think that you confused the Hubble (sphere) radius with the cosmological event horizon.
Quote Quote by George Jones View Post
For a flat universe that exponentially expands for all time, the Hubble radius is the cosmological event horizon, but (as in all universes) we never see anything cross the horizon, so we never see anything on the Hubble sphere.

In our universe, the Hubble sphere and the cosmological event horizon don't correspond, even in the distant future. If we can see galaxy A now, it will never disappear. At some future time, A will be "receding" with a speed greater than the speed of light, but, even after this time, we will see A with (exponentially) increasing redshift, and with increasing faintness. In principle, we will never lose sight of A. In fact, some stuff that we see now (for example, the CMB from the (near) the surface of last scattering) was outside the Hubble sphere when the light we now see started its journey.
Cosmo Novice
#53
May17-11, 05:53 PM
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Quote Quote by George Jones View Post

I think that you confused the Hubble (sphere) radius with the cosmological event horizon.
What is a cosmological event horizon? What I meant was that our OU will eventually (billions of years) consist of less galaxies as once a distant galaxy receeds>C and all light emiited prior to a recession>C reaches us then we will no longer see said galaxy. Over billions of years will this not be true of all galaxies, or will clusters/superclusters stay clumped?

Is this incorrect? A little more explanation would be nice.

Thanks
Chronos
#54
May18-11, 05:21 PM
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The number of galaxies will not effectively change, merely the distance between them will increase and the CMB temperature will decrease. This is known as the 'heat death' of the universe.


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