Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Cosmology
Name: Paarth
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: MD
Country: N/A
Date: 1/29/2005


Question:
Hello, I may be young but I am very interested in physics and the universe, in the many books I have read, there seem to 2 common theories of the universe that seem both to be true.

The first is that the universe is infinite, and the second is that the universe is expanding, but how can it be possible for both to be true, if the universe is infinite how can it be expanding, if the universe is expanding, how can it be infinite?, I believe I have found a solution.

In geometry class we were discussing non-Euclidean geometry and the subject came to someone, I cant remember his name, that had a theory that in a finite circular plane, if that existed, as someone moved away from the center, they would, as well as the temperature, decrease, so as a person moved away from the center, the size relative to something outside of the plane would change, but they could never tell as units of measurements would also change.

I believe, that if this concept was taken into a 3 dimensional sphere, that we could conclude both theories to be true.

Please allow me to explain. The first theory, the universe is infinite, is somewhat true in this case, although the space would be finite for objects outside of it, It would seem infinite to us because as all other things away from it would get smaller. This idea came to me from a puzzle I once did

It gave me a small square about an inch length, and asked me a way to draw a figure in that space that would be infinite. Simply, I drew a rectangle with one side left open, and with that open side, i had a line that would go up and down in a sharp wave such as the hospital heart rate machines. The wave length, would be divided in half each time, therefore continuing forever.

The part of the universe expanding has to do with space-time. The Sphere, is expanding as time goes along. This shows means to go back in time, one must somehow go to the core of the sphere, where not only are the sizes and temperatures larger, is the starting point of our universe (big bang). The future is also possible by somehow moving towards the outer portions of the sphere.

In case you are confused with the 2 different ways, I speak of the circle, consider the different properties, physical is one, and time is another, just as in our current belief method

Wormholes:

Under this system, wormholes could exist. For example, think outside the box, If you, instead of a sphere, construct a non-regular figure, as in hyperbolic geometry, the sides of this could touch each other, connecting 2 different points in space and time. such as in 2 hyperbolic funnels back to back in a free-form shape with touching sides.

I also believe all of our physical laws can theoretically still work correctly in this system. I have not discovered any proof against this and am looking for feedback.


Replies:
Questions such as you raise are maddening for two reasons. The first is that the questions are profoundly simple, but the answers (those that exist) are profoundly complicated. As your thinking has already led you, the answers are going to be expressed mathematically, so a detailed understanding without a solid math foundation is not possible. On the other hand, the "flavor" of the explanation cannot wait until all the mathematical tools are in hand. The compromise is to read, read, read. When the math "gets in the way" put it aside and jump to the result trusting that those with a larger mathematical "tool box" have checked out the result and in time you too will be able to open that "box". What I mean is that you do not have to be an automobile mechanic or an expert in the internal combustion engine to know how to drive or even know a lot about how a car works.

There are a lot of very well written books that address the questions you ask better than I can, even if space permitted. Two books that come to mind are "The Left Hand of Creation" by John Barrow and Joseph Silk and "Stephen Hawking's Universe" by David Filkin. One hurdle that you seem to have overcome that often causes young minds to turn off is you have no fear of "thinking out of the box" as you put it, and tossing out intuition. The Cosmos is not intuitive!

So my best advice to you is to read as much as you can and absorb what your math skills allow at your level of exposure. And of course study as much math as possible because the best explanations we have of the Universe ultimately are expressed in mathematical terms because it is the language that allows us to check the results. Good reading!

Vince Calder



Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory