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Explosion picture: most common mistake

  1. Jul 8, 2012 #1

    marcus

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    The single most common obstacle to understanding cosmology is probably the picture of expansion as an explosion outwards into empty space from some central point.
    It's a mistaken picture instilled in the public mind by popular media channels and reinforced by time-honored slang: the misleading epithet "big bang".

    The Scientific American magazine has a great article "Misconceptions about the Big Bang" that gets regularly recommended. A lot of us have found it helpful.
    http://www.mso.anu.edu.au/~charley/papers/LineweaverDavisSciAm.pdf

    Here's a sample illustration.
     

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  3. Jul 8, 2012 #2
    That was the point I made yesterday in the balloon analogy thread - that it was helpful to the understanding of the big bang. If time were constant - if Newtonian physics was totally correct - that view of the public would be the correct one, right?
     
  4. Jul 8, 2012 #3

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    Good article and great reference. I saw a youtube video once on this topic where the presenter showed that you could pick any point in space and all other points would be receding from it as if it were the center of the universe. I think it was a one-minute physics video. There was a guy with beard and glasses in it though.
     
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