Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Big Empty

I'm reading an interesting book by Paul Davies called About Time - Einstein's Unfinished Revolution. One of the topics mentioned is that the universe has been expanding since the "big bang". My question is, what is considered "the universe"? Is it just the material that was formed during that "bang" and is propelling away from the other material formed at the same time? Or is the universe itself the "big empty" BETWEEN the material formed during that "bang"? Is the universe a finite area that is expanding, much like a balloon being filled with air? Or is the universe ALREADY an endless expanse of "nothingness", with the material formed during that "bang" moving ever out into that "nothingness"? And if the universe is expanding like a balloon, what is beyond it? A balloon expands into something, but what of the universe?

And if everything started at the "big bang", where did that endless expanse of "nothingness" come from?

I posted a tweet that said, "Questions for God: What is the stuff of Space? How does gravity work? Why put the meat on the back of the leg, when we bang it on the front?" It was meant as sort of a grand joke - the three questions I want to ask God when I meet Him in heaven. But the first two are serious. Scientists throw terms around all the time, but do a lousy job of explaining the "why" behind them. Opposite poles attract (minus/plus) and the same poles repel (minus/minus or plus/plus). Why? What CAUSES those reactions. Just because we observed them, and gave them a clever name/law (Magnetism), doesn't answer the WHY. Same with gravity and the "stuff of space".

Another point in the book (which I am really enjoying, by the way) is that if the universe were to stop expanding (the amount of matter in the universe being enough that the amount of gravity overcomes the speed of expansion) and fall back into a "big crunch", that time itself would flow backwards. Understand, this is not something that the author is coming up with himself - many physicists and mathematicians have embraced it. Why? Just because stars and planets and "stuff" change direction, why should time as well? If I throw a ball really hard straight up, at one point, since the gravitational pull of the earth is greater than the speed of the ball, the ball would stop, change direction, and fall back to earth. Does that mean TIME goes backwards as well? Just because a star changes direction, does that mean time reverses and light from that star goes back TO it?

I guess some things are beyond our finite understanding. It takes One who is infinite to provide the answer. The One who is perhaps OUTSIDE of the universe - holding it in His hands.

© Emittravel 2013

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