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Is Earth the center of the universe?

  1. Mar 3, 2009 #1
    Physicists claim that the universe is a ball of galaxies that exploded from a single point in space with a Big Bang. In the twentieth century they hooked a super computer up to a super telescope and made a super map of the entire universe. The data is available to anyone but the picture that has been painted by this information isn't really being seen, we're staring at the back of the canvas because that's the side physicists are presenting. I would like to take the opportunity to turn it around for a moment so you may see it in a new light.
    From any given point inside a spherical object it's possible to determine the exact location of the center of the sphere if you have the ability to measure the distance to any other point. You simply find the longest line that can be drawn from your initial point and then subtract the radius of the sphere from the far end of the line. You're left with a shorter line that ends at the center of the sphere. Physicists have spent countless hours on the W5 questions regarding the Big Bang with the exception of 'where'. Obviously it happened at the center of the universe but where exactly is that, relative to where you're sitting at this moment?
    From Earth, it's the exact same distance to the edge of the universe no matter which direction you point your telescope, there is no longest line. Can you see the picture now?
    The fact that the Earth sits as a monument at 'ground zero' for the Big Bang might seem a little puzzling if you're reading this in an era when gravity still exists. It's easier to understand our place in the universe if you can deal with the idea that Einstein was wrong about light being able to travel forever at a constant speed. Light is not infinite as Albert suggested and has limitations. Electromagnetic radiation may leave the sun as gamma rays but only travel a short distance before fading and ceasing to exist but this doesn't mean that the radiation stops at that point. It continues on but is too weak to be classified as gamma rays. We understand this deterioration and limitation regarding electromagnetic radiation but because of Einstein we think that light acts differently and continues forever.
    If light could only travel 100 million light years in the visible spectrum, we would appear to be at the center of a round universe with a diameter of 200 million light years. The light from galaxies beyond this illusionary universe wouldn't reach the Earth and only radio waves would come from the deep blackness of space. And the light from the visible galaxies farthest from us would be weakened and create a Doppler type effect giving the impression that these galaxies were moving away from us.
    What would the universe look like if electromagnetic radiation could only travel as light for 15 billion light years? Where would the Earth appear to be in such a universe?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2009 #2

    D H

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    You are starting with the wrong premise. It is much better to view the Big Bang as space itself that exploded rather than the stuff that filled space as exploding.

    You are apparently writing about images of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. This is not the entire universe. There is stuff out there that we can't see, and there are a lot of galaxies out there that we can see, but haven't looked at yet.

    Wrong. You're thinking is far too Euclidean, and far too three-dimensional. Spacetime is neither 3-D nor Euclidean.

    Is the Earth at the center of the universe? If you mean that in the sense that every point in the universe is at the center of the universe, the answer is yes. If you mean that in the sense that the Earth is the only point that can be viewed as the center of the universe, the answer is resoundingly no.
  4. Mar 3, 2009 #3


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    I agree with DH's excellent response, Gordon.

    I have never known a physicist to claim that either in conversation or in writing. That is the kind of garbage that one finds at anti-science religious websites that misrepresent what scientists actually say, and in commercial pop-sci trash.

    If you want to discuss your misguided idea, I challenge you to find a link to some online source authored by a physicist that actually says that. Bring us the link and let us see what it actually says and who it is actually by.
  5. Mar 3, 2009 #4
    In my mind, no, the Earth is not at the center of the universe.
    Think of space as a gigantic cardboard box, nothing can get out of it.
    The cardboard box is everything. Facts state that bubbles form in space, creating and expanding into universes. There are trillions of those atmospheric bubbles out there.
  6. Mar 4, 2009 #5


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    Big bang was not an 'explosion', period. It is not my intent to be disagreeable, merely to note that earth is at the center of the universe - and so is every other spatial reference point in the universe - we reside in the observable universe.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  7. Mar 4, 2009 #6
    Personally, I don't beleive the "Big bang" theory. I am Methodist, and beleive a supernatural being, "God" created the universe, and all other universes to form. But I do beleive that a "big bang" happened, creating such things.
  8. Mar 20, 2009 #7
    I think Chronos is right. Earth is seen as the center of the Universe in our perspective. That is why we measure everything relative to Earth. AU = Earth's Semi-Major Axis and the Light-YEAR are good examples. But the true center of the Universe is pretty much impossible to find. Its like finding the central gluon on the ocean floor. However that doesnt mean that is doesnt exist!
  9. Mar 20, 2009 #8
    Luckily neither science nor nature cares what you believe. The "Big Bang" theory (or Lambda-CDM) is validated by multiple lines of evidence which carry far more weight than baseless personal belief.
  10. Mar 20, 2009 #9
    So from our perspective of the universe we are at the center? I don't full understand this. Is it because we can only observe the universe an equal distance out in every direction? I find it hard to picture the Earth as the center of the universe because of the fact that its orbiting the sun. To me it seems that the center of the universe would be stationary relative to the rest of the universe. For example, the sun is stationary to earth but not to the rest of the neighboring galaxies. Then again its all about perspective.

    I once read in a book that trying to find the edge of the universe would be like the Christopher Columbus and his ships sailing off the edge of the earth. Instead if you travel in a strait line one direction across the earth eventually you end up back where you started. If this is the case it must be impossible to ever find the center of the universe. :tongue2:
  11. Mar 20, 2009 #10
    Yes the true center of the universe is virtually impossible to find. We as humans just view the Earth as the center of the universe because of how we measure space. Think about it. We measure time in Earth years. Distances in AUs. Everything is studied relative to the Earth so that is how we view it as the center of the universe.
  12. Mar 20, 2009 #11


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    Actually, I am the center of the universe. It is only because I live on the earth that it appears that the earth is the center.
  13. Mar 20, 2009 #12
    One thing about this subject always throws me off. If the universe has no center (other than every point) then does it have an 'edge'?

    Imagine you are at the edge of the observible universe as seen from earth. What do you see? Whats beyond this point? Is there just more universe no matter how many times you do this? If not what does the edge look like? Does it loop around?
  14. Mar 20, 2009 #13


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    It does not have an edge. From any point in the universe, you will see a spherical universe around you.

    Some theories suggest that the curvature of the universe is positive, in that, yes, it does "curve around". Travel long enough in one direction and you will arrive back at your starting point.

    AFAIK, there are no seriously-proposed theories that posit either an actual centre or an actual edge to the universe.
  15. Mar 22, 2009 #14
    In simple terms... were not THAT special!
  16. Mar 22, 2009 #15


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    Finding the center of the universe is like finding the center of the surface of a circle. It's everywhere.
  17. Mar 22, 2009 #16
    As I understand it, the Sun revolves around the Earth.
  18. Mar 22, 2009 #17


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    Sphere. I think you meant sphere.

    The centre of the surface of a circle is pretty straightforward.
  19. Mar 23, 2009 #18


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    No disagreement. I merely view the 2 dimensional explanation as a more easily visualized analogy.
  20. Mar 23, 2009 #19
    So perhaps something like this? Its hard to imagine in 3D.
    The colors are just different parts of the "universe."
  21. Mar 23, 2009 #20


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    What? No. your statement was erroneous.

    The centre of the surface of a circle is not "everywhere", it is at the centre - and can be trivially shown to be so.
  22. Mar 23, 2009 #21
    I thought he meant the center of the edge of a circle, rather than the center of a disc.
  23. Jan 20, 2010 #22
    Haha! Dave is right. Chronos is hard headed.
  24. Jan 21, 2010 #23

    Char. Limit

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    The Earth is not the center of the universe.

    I've scientifically proven that I am.
  25. Jan 21, 2010 #24


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    It could be said the earth is at the temporal center of the universe. That is not particularly unique as every observer in the universe would draw the same conclusion.
  26. Jan 22, 2010 #25
    God doesn't have to be supernatural, but to be the cause of the Multiverse S/He would probably need to be external to it in some way, probably filling the different Kosmoi and the 'interspace' between them with His/Her 'spirit'. Thus God would be present in all and yet transcendent to them too. God in the Multiverse and the Multiverse in God.

    But such a 'Being beyond Being' is rather different to the Cosmic Prude who objects to what people do in their bed-rooms most people want to invoke as 'God'. What makes you think such a high Cosmic entity could/would care what we do?

    Answering that is beyond Physics Forum's guidelines and really doesn't belong in a discussion of cosmology. So let's not have a debate here. There's plenty of other fora for such arguments.
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