Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nietzsche was Right, Dude!

I'm perfectly content with scientists' conclusions on two points of fact:

  • the location of the earth in the solar system
  • the location of the solar system in the Milky Way
But, given these straightforward answers, I wouldn't think I would be alone in asking the next question: "Where is the Milky Way in the universe?" However, that search on Google yielded ZERO hits. So I changed my phraseology slightly: "Where is our galaxy in the universe?"

5 hits, two of which are redundant. And there is one little straightforward answer on the whole internet regarding this seemingly obvious next-step question for cosmology:
It is difficult to answer directly, because of the way that you phrase it. Basically, you need to understand that the universe does not have a "middle," and it doesn't have "edges" either. Therefore, the Milky Way is not in either of those regions, because those "regions" don't really exist.The universe does not really have a "middle" or "edges." This is similar to asking another question, which some people have asked me. That question is "In what direction was the Big Bang?" People want to know if they are looking in the direction of the Big Bang if they look toward Orion, or the Big Dipper, or whatever. You need to understand that the Big Bang happened EVERYWHERE. At that time, the word "everywhere" was only a tiny, tiny, tiny dot, but it was literally ALL of space. That dot WAS everywhere. Today, the universe itself is expanding, as it has been doing for 13.7 billion years, since the Big Bang.

I can't imagine I will be alone in considering this a kind of side-step answer. The answerer, apparently an "expert" in astronomy, blames his difficulty answering the question on the inquirer's phrasing... but surprise!, does not suggest a better way to phrase it. Then he unfairly compares it to a bad question that the inquirer did not ask. In fact, however, a dot (as he describes it) does have edges -- where there is "dot," there is "not-dot," and regardless of the relative size of the dot, if there are sub-particles within the dot (called galaxies!), it is reasonable to ask where in that dot (the universe) our sub-particle (the Milky Way) is located.

Yep, I've read A Brief History of Time, and I've read Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything -- I know what the scientists propose. But the Big Bang model, seemingly "scientific" as it is, simply doesn't satisfy me, especially when I cannot find anywhere on the entire internet a straight answer for where the edge is from here. This site makes the problem quite clear... you can zoom out far, but not all the way.

If I'm wrong, if my conception of the universe as an expanding bubble-sphere that's 14.7 billion years old -- if the universe is a kind of Mobius strip, someone please let me know! Is it possible that the 14.7 billion number is just an estimation of our ability to observe? But if it is, why do we think we need a theory of its beginning? I'm going to start working on a cosmology of an infinite universe, which "scientists" will no doubt be able to cherry-pick apart by selectively considering data that confirms their assumptions. Somehow I'll have to avoid repeating Nietzsche's claims about eternal return. See also.

Ten bonus points to anyone who can settle me down by answering a very simple question: where is the Milky Way? What does observability have to do with this?

9 comments:

Monica said...

Well, I have very little to say that will be constructive -- but I do have to say that I LOVE the idea of the universe as a Mobius strip. So inside/outside . . . so midrashic.

Wishydig said...

I had an suggestion going. Then I thought "why even try?"

Since your question relies on the possibility of finding a center to the universe this webpage might be relevant.

What do you make of their explanation?

Wishydig said...

but still...

Obviously on object on the edge when lined up shows that while everything is moving away from it but there's still a side on which there is more matter.

So the question might have more to do with a point in the universe around which matter is most evenly distributed.

Asking about space is like asking what the central temperature is. Even though we can theorize about absolute zero we know that on the other edge temperatures can rise infinitely. So a center is impossible.

But instead of a median centre (center of space) maybe a modal center is possible.

Casey said...

Michael, that webpage is helpful, but it makes me still less confindent in the Big Bang theory--in fact, it makes me think that the static/infinite universe theory seems almost obviously the choice. Apparently it was the discovery in the 1970s of "cosmic radiation," interpreted by Stephen Hawking to be the background noise left from the Big Bang, that tilted the scales in favor of the Big Bang.

But there must be some non-canonical readings of what cosmic radiation is...

I just am really in a "wondering" mood since I read on page one of one of Chris Blake's books that if you hold a dime up in the sky at arm's length at night, you block out 20 million stars... in our galaxy alone!.

I love those kinds of facts. I almost hear with them a kind of cosmic whooosh through my ears. Gretchen likes to tell me, "Joy finds wonder everywhere."

So maybe all this wondering is a good sign -- and I mean, why shouldn't I be a little joyful: getting married next week, going to Zihuatanejo in three weeks, etc. I don't even have to dog-sit for Don Platt.

MoebiusTripper said...

I just published a sci-fi novel that you might like dealing with a Mobius Strip...It is called: "TIME TRIP ON A MOEBIUS STRIP." You will find in the novel many theories on time, other dimensions, and space..."Jordan's Curve Theorem" is mentioned that postulates our universe is similar to a "closed curve." ...As far as the storyline of the novel is concerned, it is about 16 famous lost historical people that all find themseleves transported to another dimension via a cloud...The main character is a marine biologist who enters this other dimension riding on a giant metal Moebius strip inside of a giant nautilis shell...You can find my book at Amazon.com

Casey said...

Wow!--awesome, Mobius!

MoebiusTripper said...

Thanks Casey, for your kind comment on my sci-fi novel...I had to read 17 biographies in order to write it...And to give you just a clue as to who these famous people are in my story, here's a partial list of them: Jimmy Hoffa, Glenn Miller, the famous band leader of the 1940's, Jack Dillinger, the famous gangster of 1933-1934, Martin Bormann, the Nazi of World War 2, Joe Kennedy Jr., who was the oldest brother of JFK...Amelia Earhart, the famous aviator...and
and eleven other lost and famous people...I hope that is enough to wet your appetite to cause you to read my book so we can discuss it...

MoebiusTripper said...

Casey, I just read your profile page and noticed that you like the poems of Walt Whitman... It so happens that in my novel his poem, "Leaves of Grass," is very important in regards to the main character...I also notice that you are interested in mysticism, and American History...Well my novel is right up your alley, as far as
these subjects are concerned...And I might add that you have pretty good taste in the authors you listed...

MoebiusTripper said...

Hi Casey,

Get a load of this, if you have not already heard the news: It seems two scientists have solved the mystery of the Moebius strip...
Here is the link to the whole article as reported by ABC News:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/16/1979151.htm