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Is the universe finite or infinite? 
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#1
May1012, 03:52 PM

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Does the universe has boundaries?, is it finite?



#2
May1012, 04:08 PM

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Universe does not have a boundary. Finite or infinite is an open question.



#3
May1012, 04:14 PM

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#4
May1112, 11:37 PM

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Is the universe finite or infinite?
But more interesting is what mathman said about the finite case. The universe can be finite in volume yet have no boundary. It depends on the topology. Imagine space as a cube, but in which each point of the left side is the same place as the point straight across from it on the right side. Similarly top/bottom and back/front. If you wander off through one face you just reappear out of the opposite face. And you wouldn't notice anything special, because where you choose the faces to be is arbitrary. Every point is as good as any other. (Topologically this would be a 3D torus, I think.) 


#5
May1212, 08:27 AM

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#6
May1212, 09:40 AM

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I believe there is a simple solution to this problem and it is based on behavior all through the Universe so I do not believe it is an inappropriate stretch to apply it to the entire Universe: we observe phenomena in the Universe having critical points in their dynamics. Breaching such a point often causes the dynamics of the phenomenon to change qualitatively and by doing so, the rules change. For example asking what does swimming mean beyond the critical point of freezing? What happens to a hydrogen atom beyond the critical point of fussion? In a small section of the ground it looks flat, even my whole yard. But it's not always flat, beyond the horizon the rules change and asking whether the earth is infinitely flat or we just fall off is simply not following the new rules of a spherical earth in a gravity field.
Therefore, in regards to a "size" of the universe, I do not think it is unreasonable to suggest at some large "size", a critical point is reached, the rules change, the concept "volume" loses meaning, and asking for a "size" of the Universe beyond that point is simply not following the new rules. 


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May1312, 07:15 AM

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#8
May1312, 07:20 AM

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#9
May1312, 08:36 AM

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"Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..."  Douglas Noel Adams, Chapter 8, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Earth Edition, 1979
Paraphrased  "The Universe is Big. Really big. It may seem like a long way to the corner chemist, but compared to the Universe, that's peanuts." http://astro.gmu.edu/classes/a10695/notes/l01/l01.html The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy offers this definition of the word "infinite". Infinite: Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that in fact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, real "wow, that's big," time. Infinity is just so big that, by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept we're trying to get across here. http://www.acc.umu.se/~ola/hitchhik.htm The challenge for one is not to let the vastness of the universe boggle one's mind. 


#10
May1312, 08:48 AM

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#11
May1312, 09:16 AM

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#12
May1312, 12:13 PM

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One cannot probe anything tangible is infinite in size, extent, or count. It would take an unending amount of time. However the concept of infinity does exist.



#13
May2712, 02:06 AM

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the big bang does not prove that there is no boundary to the universe. the expansion of space isnt the physical expansion of acquiring more territory that we experience here on earth. the big bang occurred everywhere at once.
and there can be an infinity. if you follow these two patterns you will notice that they will go on forever 1 2 3 4 5 6 7... 2 4 6 8 10 12... divide them and you still get a number yet they are both infinitely large. to add to the idea of no space or time before the big bang, well you pretty much said it. there was no time. kind of a hard thought for human logic but time started at t=0 so yes, time does have a beginning. plus... at the end of the day, the big bang is still a theory =P 


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May2712, 02:15 AM

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#15
May2712, 06:35 AM

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Er, maybe. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it.



#16
May2712, 07:44 AM

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Acc. to me, since light is the fastest thing, then you can define an 'energy & mass' boundary, beyond which only those things lie which existed before the big bang (if anything did). But you can't define a boundary, neither to space, nor to the universe. 


#17
May2712, 10:03 PM

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I think there is even some confusion here about the kinds of questions that science is able to answer. We actually don't use science to answer questions like "is the universe finite or infinite", we just use it to address questions like "is the universe finite." The answer to that question is, "we have no scientific evidence that the universe is finite." That's it, that's all we can use science to say. This is not evidence that the universe is infinite, such a thing is not likely to even be possible to obtain. Since absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, we simply cannot use science to say anything at all about whether or not the universe is finite in size (in comoving coordinates, etc.), we can only say we have no evidence that it is finite. Why must we always try to use science for more than it is intended or appropriate?



#18
May2812, 12:18 AM

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[QUOTE=Ken G;3931135]The answer to that question is, "we have no scientific evidence that the universe is finite." That's it, that's all we can use science to say. /QUOTE]
I think we can go a little further than that. Many/most people would assume that if space has no boundaries then it must be infinite in volume. Science can be used to produce models, consistent with physics as far as is known, in which space can be finite yet unbounded. There may even be implications of such models which could be tested. 


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