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Glitter, Balloons and Jell-O, a model of the Universe.

  1. Aug 19, 2003 #1
    Here is my fun and interesting explanation of the Universe. While it is my take on how it all works, I make no claims to having a “real clue”. This is just how I see it all in my head. I am not a mathematician, I visualize it all in my mind, and this is what I have come up with. The Jell-O unfortunately probably says a lot about me. Anyway, enjoy!

    Just imagine a balloon, expanding inside an enormous bowl of Jell-O. The Balloon is covered with glitter. All that glitter is the galaxies in the Universe. Ok, now make it an odd shaped balloon, since explosions are rarely perfectly symmetrical. No reason to believe the “Big-Bang” would be.

    Ok, so now let’s go over our model. I am going to start with the idea that there was in fact, a Big Bang. Honestly, it is as good as anything. The only other idea that explains all that movement out there is if something came along with a giant wooden spoon and stirred everything up! (Or some kind of huge storm or something.) Granted, that would probably explain a lot to. But for us, for now, Big Bang.

    Here’s my twist. The Universe exploded into existence, forcing it’s way out and into space. I say forcing, because I really don’t believe Space is this vacuous place of nothingness. If there wasn’t something out there, our expansion would never slow down, because there would be nothing working against our velocity, things only decelerate because well, something slows them down. Thus, Jell-O! This should also help to explain all those problems with things in the Universe appearing to old to be…well part of our Universe. No reason to assume the Universe really is expanding at the same speed in all directions, evenly. Just think of using a shaped charge to push different size and density chunks of mass away from each other, into a big bowl of Jell-O! See, it’s all coming together now isn’t it?

    Imagine a little ball of glitter exploding into a bowl of Jell-O, messy to be sure, but it sure gives us a good example about our own universe. Maybe not fully set Jell-O, probably more liquid, you would get all those nice swirling galaxies and such.

    Ok, next up, Warp Engines and Black Holes. We have all seen the ever-popular ball on the rubber mat. Little divots in space caused by dense items sinking into it.

    Black Holes have always been a problem for me. First off you have this big drain in space, sucking everything that comes near it into, somewhere. Who knows where, but I am certain that all of my missing pen caps and left socks are there. Kind of makes you wonder what it looks like on the backside of a Black Hole doesn’t it? Ok, it’s not a drain into another dimension you say? It’s this little tiny ball of density pulling everything toward it? Ah, so the funnel is just a cutaway, it’s actually this swirling ball of stuff. This giant spherical maelstrom, not this silly conical thing people keep talking about. Unless…

    So you have this balloon, covered with bits of glitter, and you stick your finger into it, push hard, but don’t pop it of course, cause that will scare the cat. Look, there’s that pesky funnel shape again. Just imagine, if something really dense and small were sitting on your balloon, it would make that same shape, assuming it didn’t just roll off of course.

    Notice how that divot actually brings some of the bits of glitter together? Yep we come right back to that whole warping space thing again. You remember, draw two dots on a piece of paper and fold the paper together so the dots meet, giving you that nice clean straight line, but with a lot less distance to travel.

    Of course creating these huge divots in space drawing faraway stars close to one another is just asking for trouble, but if you did it, in tiny little increments, you could still cross a huge distance, in a fraction of the normal time, with a lot less energy. So now we have to make something that can change it’s density by a huge amount, really fast, over and over again, and you have your “warp engine”. Good luck putting that in a tin can!

    So, going back to our balloon in Jell-O, good old light refracting Jell-O, makes our Universe on a balloon look so different. Ok… you want to go from one part of the balloon to another, without traveling along that long curved surface, and you don’t have a warp engine. Well, you could always tunnel through. Not quite as efficient as warping, and who knows what is inside these little “worm holes” that you make, but that should be an interesting adventure too.

    I am sure there are all kinds of reasons why my little Glitter, Balloon and Jell-O model is all wrong. I am sure I will hear all kinds of weirdness about Dark Matter, and galaxy size molecules and what have you, but honestly, they just don’t compare to the sheer fun of Jell-O!

    Anyway something for everyone to consider.

    Joe Carron
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 20, 2003 #2


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    I'm sure others will point this out as well, but your model breaks down because the universe is not a blob of mass expanding into empty space. Rather the void of space itself is expanding, and the big bang is as far back as we can trace this expansion.
  4. Aug 20, 2003 #3


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    Eh (name stands for event horizon?) that was well put
  5. Aug 20, 2003 #4
    When I first saw this topic I thought it was going to follow the career of some beautiful female wrestler. How disappointing! :frown:

    Anyway, maybe with a better understanding, that he is sure to receive, nuke_c can refine his understanding and come up with yet another interesting analogy.
  6. Aug 20, 2003 #5
    The idea here is that the Balloon is representative of our Universe, the Jell-O is the Infinite Space, that it is expanding into. Logically there could be several balloons expanding into our bowl of Jell-O.

    What it comes down to, is the idea that what we have, our expanding universe, has to be expanding into something. Whatever you want to call it. There are to many variables, unexplained, to assume that there is nothing before. Now what that is, I have no clue. But it seems to have been exerting some interesting forces onto our expanding universe.

    The whole idea that there was nothing, and then suddenly there was something, just doesn't fly. I don't buy into spontaneous creationism. Of course, then your left with this odd loop. Now this is where Time, with a big "T", comes into play I imagine.

    Time gets kind of messy, you end up with that whole, "What was happening before time began" question. Again, back to that spontaneous creation bit. Bleh.

    See there is always room for a time before, just like there is always room for a time after. But that just gets ugly, and headache causing, and I don't want to go into that right now.

    Now granted I am still doing alot of reading, I have been for several years, and this is just my take. But if you stop for a moment to visualize, you begin to see, that absolutes, beggining or ends, just don't fit in the picture. What you replace that neat little wall with, I don't know.

    I am sure I will be updating my little model in the near future as I read more, maybe I can even throw in something to do with paper cups and fingernail clippers.

    Seriously, my whole aim, is to simplify the matter and make things jive a little better. The more complicated you make something, the more likely it is to break, and just be wrong.

    I look foward to hearing other people's replies and inputs.
  7. Aug 20, 2003 #6


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    Erm... let's ditch the balloon.

    The best way to see the universe is a a ball of dough of some currant cake. The atoms etc are the currants inside the cake, and the dough rises. As it does, the bits of currant inside get pulled further and further apart in 3D. The balloon is rather misleading in ways.

    Also, interestingly, the universe is accelerating in expansion. This suggests against the presence of anything slowing it down.

    As for before... well maybe. But it is still possible there was nothing before, and the laws of such a situation are pretty mind boggling.

    Then again, somethings do come from nothing. Virtual particles for instance, and there's good evidence for this. Either way, the issue is blurry, like some dodgy contact lenses.

    I don't know... be careful you don't make the "I can stand on one step on the ladder, and I can climb up one step, so logically the ladder is of infinite length" mistake. :wink: Also, some suggestion are made that the flow of time is a statistical effect of entropy, and hence would not apply if nothing existed.

    Maybe... but what is complication? What seems to be complicated to us may be simple to the universe, if you catch my drift.

    I'll wait for the paper cups and fingernail clippers.

    Gee... to much philosophy... :smile:
  8. Aug 21, 2003 #7


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    There is no evidence that the Jell-O exists. For all we know, it doesn't*. All we can see is the surface of the balloon and the glitter. In that sense, the Big Bang was not an explosion into empty space, but rather a rapid expansion of all space.

    * - but Phobos, you say, there is always room for Jell-o!
  9. Aug 21, 2003 #8


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    Sure, why not?
  10. Aug 21, 2003 #9


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    There is where it goes wrong. You don't need something expanding to be embedded in anything else at all. So instead, have this jellow itself expand, and you've got your analogy.
  11. Aug 21, 2003 #10
    Do you think it is possible that there is more then one Universe, expanding.. or that we could be expanding into the remains of another Universe?
  12. Aug 24, 2003 #11


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    It is possible. And there are scientific speculations on that subject. But there is no evidence one way or the other yet.
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