Why a sci-fi view of the universe makes sense

Katie Mac

Theoretical cosmologist Katie Mack, author of The end of everything: (Astrophysically speaking) (2020) lists, in an essay based on his book, a number of facts about our universe that prevent us from even understanding it. Even astronomers, she says, struggle:

Here in the solar system, space and time behave more or less well, but when you have to deal with the cosmos as a whole, you have to take into account that it refuses to stand still for its adjustment. .. If you are looking at a galaxy far, far away, not only do you have to take into account that the image you are looking at is old, but you have to take into account that it is no longer where it was when you have seen her.

Katie Mac“Big Space” at infinite time (July 31, 2020)

Yes, because of expansion and relativity, space is constantly changing. The weather too.

Even time is distorted by the stretching of space. We can observe the brightness and dimming of this exploding star, as the shock wave passes through it, and say that it took about 100 days to fade. But if we compare it with a nearby supernova, on average, we will see that the distant one takes a few days longer. From our point of view, it explodes in slow motion.

Katie Mac“Big Space” at infinite time (July 31, 2020)

And this has a strange effect when looking at the age of the universe:

The distance to our cosmic horizon is not, as one might expect, 13.8 billion light-years. As we discussed above, distances are weird in an expanding universe. Something that was 13.8 billion light years away when its light began its journey towards us is much further away now. If you take all that into account, this glowing plasma that we see at the very edge of the observable universe is actually about 45 billion light-years away now.

Katie Mac“Big Space” at infinite time (July 31, 2020)

One thing about the universe that confuses Mack is that it looks “too perfect”:

This background light that we see just on the cosmic horizon, this afterglow of the Big Bang, tells us that a mere evolution from a singularity to the grand beautiful universe we now enjoy simply does not make sense.

The problem is that the afterglow from the Big Bang, what we call the cosmic microwave background, is too perfect. To an absurd degree of precision (one part in 100,000), it looks the same, in every direction. Same color (or rather frequency, since it’s microwaves), same spectrum, same intensity. The reason this is a problem is that there is no reason for two regions on opposite sides of the sky to match in this way. Even though it all started together, shrouded in a singularity, the way it expanded outward should have introduced extreme differences in different parts of the primeval cosmos. The regions that are now far apart in the expanding fireball stage of cosmic evolution have never had a chance to come to an agreement on what temperature to reach. The cosmic microwave background should look dramatically different on one side of the sky and on the other.

Katie Mac“Big Space” at infinite time (July 31, 2020)

But now, the avid reader must ask himself a question: “Too perfect” for What, exactly? If the universe was designed, as most people assume, it could be similar in all directions for the same reasons that the spokes of a bicycle wheel are similar in all directions. Certainly, if we are ever able to explore any part of our universe, such similarity will prove to be a great advantage.

Mack explores many questions in cosmology and his essay is a most interesting read.


You can also read:

Recent scientific papers support the premises of science fiction. There is no crystal clear boundary; Science and science fiction achievements require imagination. Of course, science can only deal with facts, but many of the facts discovered by scientists can support the premises of science fiction. Here are five examples.

and

A physicist defends the imperfection in our universe: It is essential. We owe our existence to the fact that our universe is full of imbalanced, unbalanced quantities. The great physicist Paul Dirac discovered antimatter assuming symmetry (a quality of perfection). But in the details, the wheels came off.

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