Thursday, July 12, 2007
Follow-Up on Universe-Talk
Finally something interesting. Somebody qualified is proposing that the data has been poorly interpreted: the universe may actually be contracting, not expanding. This is a wonderful inversion, and it makes some sense -- if you admit (as astronomers will) that there is no non-relative point in the universe, then it seems perfectly reasonable to interpret the apparent widening gap between us and the next nearest galaxy cluster as evidence that we are hurtling inward a little faster than they are (thus increasing the gap).
The problem that anyone with a dab of intuition will raise is that the gap appears to be increasing uniformly in all directions. Interesting problem. But it is not more or less problematic in the scenario of a collapsing universe or a contracting universe than it is in the customary view, the expanding universe. I had a hard time figuring out on "the internet" whether scientists think galaxies are expanding or contracting, but this picture makes me think "contracting":
Looks like water down a drain to me; and if happens at the galactic level, I don't see any reason that it couldn't happen with the entire universe. Further, why do we tend to believe our observations at the fringes of our technological capability more than those we are sure about? It is certain that our solar system is not expanding. Nor is our galaxy. Nor, even, is our "galaxy cluster." It's at the level of between-galaxy-clusters that the expansion is supposed to be occurring. Really? I don't know about red-shifts that much, but is it possible there's some kind of distortion happening?
Here's my best guess: the number of black holes increases (naturally) with distance... as light passes a black hole and curves, it decreases in speed. Thus, cosmic objects observed farther away will not arrive at the speed of light, but slower. The effect decreases as we observe closer objects. A weak pictorial representation:
If nothing nearby is observed to be expanding, is it really probable that something that isn't happening here is happening way out there? Umm... sorry about that last sentence. My post below on heresy and blasphemy is better.