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Explosive Studies of Universe's Expansion Win Nobel Prize in Physics - Comments

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 1 by Alex, adv. diab.

What, their findings teach us that the universe will end being a cold and empty dead place, and they get a price for that??? What about my warm fuzzy universe forever (TM) model?

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 14:48:29 UTC | #877790

mjs31's Avatar Comment 2 by mjs31

So what does this say about the perceived age of the Universe? Also, should this make me more afraid of the end of the world than I already am?

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 15:15:47 UTC | #877798

wald0h's Avatar Comment 3 by wald0h

The age remains unaffected.

As I understand it, because we know how far certain things are away, and we can calculate how fast they're moving away from us, we are able to work backwards enough to the point of the big bang, a little shy of 14 billion years ago.

And there's no reason to be afraid. Any number of things would kill us off before the death of our universe. Our sun dying, the collision between milky way and andromeda, gamma ray bursts. All of which we would be lucky to survive on this planet long enough as humans to see.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 16:29:32 UTC | #877820

tboulay's Avatar Comment 4 by tboulay

Comment 2 by mjs31 :

So what does this say about the perceived age of the Universe? Also, should this make me more afraid of the end of the world than I already am?

As far as I understand it, the increasing rate of expansion is taken into account when counting back to a point of singularity, which gives us the 13.73 or so billion number. As for being afraid of the end of the world, I look at it like this: Let's say you're in Dublin and you start stacking sheets of paper on their edge's, you'd reach the big bang in Moscow. Now what are the chances that it's going to end within my ~74 or so sheets?

Now what does get me somewhat depressed is if I imagine that the sheets of paper are dollar bills. Because if they were and I wanted to stack an amount equal to what the US spends on 2 years of war, I'd have to stack them from Dublin to Moscow and back 7 times.

As for the conclusion, (and reference to post 1) A lot of people do believe the warm forever model; in fact, most believers think that all of us (atheists) and even believers of other religions are going to be spending forever in a place that's rather uncomfortably hot.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 16:51:33 UTC | #877825

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 5 by Anaximander

So what does this say about the perceived age of the Universe?

The universe is older than what the measurements of redshifts would indicate if we think there is no acceleration. Or is it the other way, no, the expansion was slower before, so the universe is older.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 17:50:17 UTC | #877839

Daniel Williams's Avatar Comment 6 by Daniel Williams

Correct me if I'm wrong in my thinking but; With an explosion of say a stick of dynamite the material of the outer shell (paper) doesn't go from stand still to maximum velocity instantly does it? So why do/did we expect this to be true with the universe? Is the universe not just the outside of said stick of dynamite and we ate still accelerating to maximum velocity? This would effectively mean there had to be a stick of dynamite (matter) or in this case as far as we can tell a singularity to begin with. But isn't that just exactly in line with what we think right now? This doesn't mean that matter will not slow down at some point in the future. Is it possible that this is what black hole's are for? To continually re seed the universe?

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 18:03:24 UTC | #877842

Sample's Avatar Comment 7 by Sample

I suppose the here and now is the "afterlife" considering we're already dead in a manner of speaking.

Mike

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 18:04:33 UTC | #877843

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 8 by Red Dog

Comment 6 by Daniel Williams :

Correct me if I'm wrong in my thinking but; With an explosion of say a stick of dynamite the material of the outer shell (paper) doesn't go from stand still to maximum velocity instantly does it? So why do/did we expect this to be true with the universe? Is the universe not just the outside of said stick of dynamite and we ate still accelerating to maximum velocity? This would effectively mean there had to be a stick of dynamite (matter) or in this case as far as we can tell a singularity to begin with. But isn't that just exactly in line with what we think right now? This doesn't mean that matter will not slow down at some point in the future. Is it possible that this is what black hole's are for? To continually re seed the universe?

Not sure I really understood the point but a couple of comments: First, remember that the big bang is not really an explosion. Its not like there was an existing space for the universe and then a singularity blew up and threw matter outward into that space. But rather the bang created both space/time and the stuff that goes into it and the expansion they are talking about here is not the galaxies moving in space/time but the expansion of space/time itself. At least that's how I understand it.

Second, regarding the singularity it sounds like you are saying couldn't it be that everything reaches a point where it stops expanding then collapses in on itself and then we get another big bang so that the universe is an endless cycle of bang=>expand=>contract=>bang=>... That was at one time considered a very plausible theory but it was settled a while ago. There isn't enough attractive force to stop the expansion and pull stuff back. I think partly because there isn't enough regular matter to attract things back together but also because there is dark matter which has a repulsive force and pushes stuff apart.

But I'm just an interested amateur so if anyone really knows what they are talking about feel free to correct me.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 19:18:48 UTC | #877871

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 9 by drumdaddy

Three cheers!

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 19:20:08 UTC | #877872

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 10 by KenChimp

Comment 8 by Red Dog :

Comment 6 by Daniel Williams :

Correct me if I'm wrong in my thinking but; With an explosion of say a stick of dynamite the material of the outer shell (paper) doesn't go from stand still to maximum velocity instantly does it? So why do/did we expect this to be true with the universe? Is the universe not just the outside of said stick of dynamite and we ate still accelerating to maximum velocity? This would effectively mean there had to be a stick of dynamite (matter) or in this case as far as we can tell a singularity to begin with. But isn't that just exactly in line with what we think right now? This doesn't mean that matter will not slow down at some point in the future. Is it possible that this is what black hole's are for? To continually re seed the universe?

Not sure I really understood the point but a couple of comments: First, remember that the big bang is not really an explosion. Its not like there was an existing space for the universe and then a singularity blew up and threw matter outward into that space. But rather the bang created both space/time and the stuff that goes into it and the expansion they are talking about here is not the galaxies moving in space/time but the expansion of space/time itself. At least that's how I understand it.

Second, regarding the singularity it sounds like you are saying couldn't it be that everything reaches a point where it stops expanding then collapses in on itself and then we get another big bang so that the universe is an endless cycle of bang=>expand=>contract=>bang=>... That was at one time considered a very plausible theory but it was settled a while ago. There isn't enough attractive force to stop the expansion and pull stuff back. I think partly because there isn't enough regular matter to attract things back together but also because there is dark matter which has a repulsive force and pushes stuff apart.

But I'm just an interested amateur so if anyone really knows what they are talking about feel free to correct me.

Other than the "dark matter" being repulsive of gravity bit, you've got the right of it. It is "dark energy" that is repulsive and causing the expansion. Dark matter is a mysterious (not yet explained) form of matter that is unlike the stuff we and everything else we can see is made of. My understanding is that dark matter contributes to gravitational attraction and is thought to be partly responsible for holding galaxies and clusters of galaxies together

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 19:41:47 UTC | #877878

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 11 by Anaximander

I think partly because there isn't enough regular matter to attract things back together but also because there is dark matter which has a repulsive force and pushes stuff apart.

-Not dark matter, but dark energy.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 19:42:08 UTC | #877879

sunshine1708's Avatar Comment 12 by sunshine1708

Great article

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 19:53:59 UTC | #877884

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 13 by Red Dog

-Not dark matter, but dark energy.

Thanks to Anaximander and Ken Chimp for the correction.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 20:21:18 UTC | #877902

Atheist Mike's Avatar Comment 14 by Atheist Mike

I'm probably being slightly too optimistic but I think that, by the time the universe will approach its expiry date, we'll have the technology to prolong our collective existences until the next potential large scale disaster is identified and another optimist like me will state his unshakeable faith in human progress. Which hopefully will turn out to be justified.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 21:02:58 UTC | #877919

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 15 by Red Dog

Comment 14 by Atheist Mike :

I'm probably being slightly too optimistic but I think that, by the time the universe will approach its expiry date, we'll have the technology to prolong our collective existences until the next potential large scale disaster is identified and another optimist like me will state his unshakeable faith in human progress. Which hopefully will turn out to be justified.

Of course this is just idle speculation (really need a bong to do this right) but I kind of agree with you. As I understand it there are theories now about our universe being one universe in a mutliverse. Perhaps by the time this happens we will have figured out how to move from one universe to another or even to create a new one to go to. (Slartibartfast will design the fjords)

The thing I worry about though is how long we will last. I don't think even in the worst case global climate change could come close to killing off humanity but when you consider that Americans like to wage war (and its just about the only thing we are still really good at) and that places like Pakistan already have nuclear weapons (which we helpd them get) I worry about the global chaos that could be fueled by climate change and diminishing resources.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 21:52:22 UTC | #877932

Daniel Williams's Avatar Comment 16 by Daniel Williams

Comment 8 by Red Dog :

Not sure I really understood the point but a couple of comments: First, remember that the big bang is not really an explosion. Its not like there was an existing space for the universe and then a singularity blew up and threw matter outward into that space. But rather the bang created both space/time and the stuff that goes into it and the expansion they are talking about here is not the galaxies moving in space/time but the expansion of space/time itself. At least that's how I understand it.

Second, regarding the singularity it sounds like you are saying couldn't it be that everything reaches a point where it stops expanding then collapses in on itself and then we get another big bang so that the universe is an endless cycle of bang=>expand=>contract=>bang=>... That was at one time considered a very plausible theory but it was settled a while ago. There isn't enough attractive force to stop the expansion and pull stuff back. I think partly because there isn't enough regular matter to attract things back together but also because there is dark matter which has a repulsive force and pushes stuff apart.

But I'm just an interested amateur so if anyone really knows what they are talking about feel free to correct me.

See that's exactly the one thing I have trouble with. I am unable to grasp that everything came from nothing. That's as implausible to me as there being a creator.

There simply must be more to it. If it be a creator then how did IT come to be. What created the creator?

To say that everything came from nothing is like saying it's supernatural. What we should be saying is we don't know what was there before the big bang but we are looking in to it. We have been able to work it out to within (how ever many seconds/nano seconds) after the bang.

As for everything not slowing down. How do we know dark energy won't just run out/go in reverse (by its polarity shifting or what ever) in the future?

Wed, 05 Oct 2011 08:48:05 UTC | #878046

Pete H's Avatar Comment 17 by Pete H

I just saw an interview with the Australian physicist on local TV. He made some useful remarks about global warming and political policy.

Interesting to note that he’s also a winemaker. Maybe be a unique marketing angle for Nobel Prize winning vintages. E.g. Contains Dark Energy and carefully aged for optimum consumption in the “not-to-distant future” – by when the universe will become too cold and dark to enjoy wine in moderation.

I've just had half a bottle as my contribution to encouraging scientific progress.

Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:28:02 UTC | #878057

Colin Coleman's Avatar Comment 18 by Colin Coleman

See that's exactly the one thing I have trouble with. I am unable to grasp that everything came from nothing. That's as implausible to me as there being a creator.

You are correct that the idea that everything started with the big bang is deeply unsatisfying, but this is not the view in multiverse cosmologies. Many cosmologists take this idea very seriously, and there are good reasons to believe it if the universe is fine tuned, even if it is not falsifiable. In this concept there is an eternal and infinite inflating medium, and 'our' universe (of which the observable region is probably only an infinitesimal part) is only one of infinitely many such with different physical laws. Such an ensemble multiverse neatly gets around two problems, namely "What caused the big bang" and "Why is the universe so well suited to create observers?" The answers being "A quantum fluctuation that caused inflation to stop locally and give rise to low energy phenomena" and "There are infinitely many such regions and we must necessarily be in one with physics suitable for life to evolve".

Of course there is an alternative theory - that a designer set the whole thing in motion. Of course this only leaves us with a much bigger problem of explaining where the designer came from. The infinite and eternal inflating medium has the advantage of being simple (relative to a designer) and it's properties can be investigated through high energy physiscs experiments. This is why Steven Weinberg thinks the multiverse hypothesis is a strong argument against a designer.

Wed, 05 Oct 2011 13:35:47 UTC | #878127

keyfeatures's Avatar Comment 19 by keyfeatures

Assuming a consistent diametrical acceleration then wouldn't you get an exponential expansion of the 'spherical' volume? This would mean you would even expect to see accelerating increase in volume even as the diametrical expansion slowed.

Assuming (again) momentum conservation laws apply, is the dark energy required to provide mass for the recoil or outward thrust aspect?

Wed, 05 Oct 2011 20:45:45 UTC | #878262

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 20 by Steve Zara

Comment 14 by Atheist Mike

I'm probably being slightly too optimistic but I think that, by the time the universe will approach its expiry date, we'll have the technology to prolong our collective existences until the next potential large scale disaster is identified and another optimist like me will state his unshakeable faith in human progress. Which hopefully will turn out to be justified.

I don't think this is at all unreasonable. The physicist David Deutch makes the good point that it would well be the case that the universe has fundamentally changed now that technological intelligence has appeared. Scientists still talk about the future of the solar system in billions of years as if humanity had never appeared. We have been technological for a very short time and already it's not possible to talk about the climate of our planet without taking us into account. We will surely be re-engineering the solar system to some extent in a few thousand years, even if it is terraforming planets. There is simply no way to predict what our descendants, whatever form they take, will be capable of in a million years or a billion years.

Wed, 05 Oct 2011 20:59:28 UTC | #878265

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 21 by irate_atheist

I still maintain that it won't accelerate as fast as a plumber's van.

Thu, 06 Oct 2011 09:43:37 UTC | #878377

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 22 by DavidMcC

Comment 20 by Steve Zara

I don't think this is at all unreasonable. The physicist David Deutch makes the good point that it would well be the case that the universe has fundamentally changed now that technological intelligence has appeared.

You can't be serious, surely! You might just as well say that total eclipses of the sun happening while we're around is no coincidence.

Thu, 06 Oct 2011 10:20:11 UTC | #878386

Daniel Williams's Avatar Comment 23 by Daniel Williams

Comment 21 by irate_atheist :

I still maintain that it won't accelerate as fast as a plumber's van.

a plumber's van leaving a bodged job.....

Thu, 06 Oct 2011 10:24:25 UTC | #878388

henisdov's Avatar Comment 24 by henisdov

A Pathetic Absurdity

Nobel 2011 re universe expansion: There is definitely no dark energy or matter. Definitely. This is a pathetic absurdity:

Neutrino Velocity > Light Velocity?

I. From http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/09/live-chat-have-neutrinos-broken.html?ref=em&elq=94d706ec04024fdc9b3ae6e49236f125 3:05 Alfons Weber:
OPERA has only measured the average speed of the neutrinos from CERN to Grand Sasso. But there is no reason to assume that the neutrinos became faster or slower on their way. We actually don't know of any mechanism that could have accelerated or decelerated them on the trip.

Dov Henis: ***If the total arriving neutrinos mass is less than the total starting mass their velocity would accelerate: some of the mass reconverts to energy (Einstein) acting on a decreasing mass (Newton)...

II. A. From “Galaxy Clusters Validate Einstein's Theory” http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/09/galaxy-clusters-validate-einstei.html?ref=em&elq=94d706ec04024fdc9b3ae6e49236f125

“a classic prediction of general relativity: that light will lose energy as it is escaping a gravitational field. The stronger the field, the greater the energy loss suffered by the light. As a result, photons emitted from the center of a galaxy cluster—a massive object containing thousands of galaxies—should lose more energy than photons coming from the edge of the cluster because gravity is strongest in the center”

B. Energy/mass dualism and light, why not and neutrino…

By the below updated comprehension of gravitation light will lose MASS as it is escaping a gravitational field. The stronger the field, the greater the MASS loss suffered by the light. It is due to the energy/mass dualism that the loss of mass would be loss of energy…

The universe cycles between two poles: singularity/all-mass , and maximum-expanded/nearly-all-energy. E=Total[m(1 + D)] (D = distance travelled by mass since singularity)

Update definition of gravitation per the above E,m,D relationship. The essence/definition of gravitation is:

“Gravitation Is the propensity of energy reconversion to mass”.

C. What, whence and whither, mass format:

In the expanding universe the point of formation of the light, or of the neutrinos, of any mass format, is - “as far as the mass format is concerned” - its singularity point. Its motion distance is D. Its m decreases as D increases, maintaining a constant mD = E and therefore accelerating …

Look Ma! It’s Converting!

Dov Henis (comments from 22nd century) http://universe-life.com/ http://universe-life.com/2011/09/21/the-lhc-chases-its-tail/

PS: Universe expands per Newton's motion laws, obviously... Also, universe physics constants should vary, probably slightly, between galaxies clusters due to varied clusters sizes... Also, the clusters formed by dispersion at inflation… DH

Thu, 06 Oct 2011 11:41:19 UTC | #878402

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 25 by Alex, adv. diab.

As far as the future of our universe is concerned, if the dark energy behaves like Einstein's cosmological constant, it has once and for all won over matter and radiation ~billion years ago, and we are in a positive feedback cycle where more expansion will dilute matter even more, leading to even stronger dominance of dark energy and thus stronger acceleration of the expansion. So as far as our universe (not talking about what goes on behind the horizons or black holes and such things) is concerned, its fate would be sealed. If on the other hand (and it is hard to test currently) the dark energy is not in fact a cosmological constant but of dynamic origin ("quintessence"), it is possible that it will go back down as time progresses, and the universe will recollapse after all or slow down in its expansion. All those are possibilities that are still perfectly compatible with observations because we cannot extrapolate the behavior of dark energy density in the future without a reliable theory, but many people prefer the cosmological constant model because it is by far the simplest. So heat death it is for them. Of course, we are in trouble either way, because the only way how we could reignite everything after the stars have died is a recollapse (screw the second law, finally), and kind of by definition all structure of the universe us included would have to be annihilated in the process. Now if only we could duck under a rock or something while that happens, and then enjoy all the nice fresh stars after the initial expansion, that would be very nice, and maybe a realistic possibility if moores law holds and we try really hard the next 500 billion years :)

Henisdov, erm, you are completely incoherent.

Fri, 07 Oct 2011 08:09:17 UTC | #878677