- the location of the earth in the solar system
- the location of the solar system in the Milky Way
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?