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Universe 250+ Times Bigger Than What Is Observable

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the size-of-a-good-reuben dept.

Education 506

eldavojohn writes "The universe is only fourteen billion years old so we are unable to observe anything more than fourteen billion light years away. This makes it a bit difficult for us to measure how large the universe actually is. A number of methodologies have been devised to estimate the size of the universe including the universe's curvature, baryonic acoustic oscillations and the luminosity of distant type 1A supernovas. Now a team has combined all known methods into Bayesian model averaging to constrain the universe's size and their research is saying with confidence that the universe is at least 250 times larger than the observable universe."

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Hence infinite? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072000)

...

As good science as flat earth.

Re:Hence infinite? (2)

polar red (215081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072082)

250 * (14.5 billion)*4/3*pi lightyears is as good as infinite as far as I'm concerned. hell, even (1Million)*4/3*pi Ly is big enough for me.

Re:Hence infinite? (5, Funny)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072146)

(640k)*4/3*pi ought to be big enough for anyone.

Re:Hence infinite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072388)

Not big enought for yo mama.

Re:Hence infinite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072464)

Woooosh?

Re:Hence infinite? (2)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072226)

But then 250 * (14.5 billion)*4/3*pi light years is also as far from infinite as zero is.

Re:Hence infinite? (2)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072282)

Didn't bill gates say 640K * (14.5 billions) * 4/3 * pi should be enough space for everybody, no matter what the activity, how much civilization expands ;)

or something like that :)

Re:Hence infinite? (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072246)

Since those areas are beyond the reach of our light cone, they almost certainly are not much better than nonexistent.

Of course still such estimates should help with cosmological models, science in general, or understanding our negligibly minuscule (heck, not even a speck of random noise...) place in the Universe (yeah, like that will happen soon...)

Speed of Light? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072006)

Because I'm hard-science light.. I thought c was considered an boundary of some sort.. would this imply the ability for matter to travel faster then c?

Re:Speed of Light? (4, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072044)

It is, but oddly enough that does not bind the expansion. Space can be expanding faster than c and I believe the inflationary theory says just that.

Re:Speed of Light? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072174)

Space can be expanding faster than c and I believe the inflationary theory says just that.

Damn fed printing money, now see what they've done.

Re:Speed of Light? (4, Informative)

Alef (605149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072340)

Some physicist is very welcome to fill in here, but I'm not sure it's correct to say that the universe "expands faster" than the speed of light. Locally, the expansion is slow, and objects aren't really "moving away" from each other -- rather more space is added in between them.

Think of it like blowing up a balloon with ants walking around on the surface. The distance between ants could increase faster than they can move, but none of the ants are moving relative to the space they occupy.

As a side note: One theory of the ultimate fate of the universe is that the expansion rate will increase past the point where the observable universe becomes smaller than atoms and other particles (a higher expansion rate means objects must be closer to each other for light travelling between them to overcome the expansion of the distance between them), essentially ripping all matter apart.

Re:Speed of Light? (2)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072550)

Some physicist is very welcome to fill in here

Really?

Bayesian model averaging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072008)

Urgh, hated doing that in Computer Science lectures.

What does that even mean? (2)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072016)

I mean, what's at the outer edge? A wall?

Re:What does that even mean? (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072066)

Can you show me the point where a circle ends?

Re:What does that even mean? (3, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072298)

Or what is deeper than the center of the Earth. Or what lies to the north of North Pole.

Re:What does that even mean? (0, Troll)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072606)

There is nothing north of the north pole. What is deeper then the center of the Earth? The center of Jupiter's earth. This is inferring that the universe is some type of sphere-shape similar to Earth where once we get to one side, we eventually go around again like being in orbit. I am pretty confident there is an end to the universe, and at the end: Chuck Norris. Yes,. I said it. Welcome to 4 years ago (I am a time traveller and forgot to go back soon enough to hit first post)

Re:What does that even mean? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072450)

To quote Arkady Darrel: "A circle has no end".

Re:What does that even mean? (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072526)

Ah, but is an infinitely large circle also an infinitely long straight line?

Re:What does that even mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072536)

A circle ends in a plane, the surface of the paper.

Re:What does that even mean? (2, Insightful)

djp928 (516044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072538)

No, but I sure can show you an infinite number of points that lie outside the circle.

Duh - In the middle (1)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072630)

like my belly button (poke)(sniff)

Re:What does that even mean? (4, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072114)

There's nothing "physical" about the edge of the observable universe. It's just the boundary between galaxies whose light has had time to reach us, and galaxies whose light is still on its way.

BUT, don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072392)

Don't forget one important thing.... When we peer out to the outer edges of the observable universe, we're seeing the galaxies as they were 14 billion years ago. If scientists are saying the universe is only 14 billion years OLD then we're seeing galaxies that were just born. So, those galaxies look nothing like the way they appear to us. They might not even be anywhere near their aparent location, or they might not even exist anymore!! But, the light they gave off 14 billion years ago is still traveling through space. So, this complication kinda changes things. This 250x number they came up with is in relation to what? The "observable" universe has changed since the light was given off (that we're now seeing.)

Re:What does that even mean? (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072604)

I don't think he's referring to the edge of the "observable universe". The article states that the universe is 250x the size of the obserable universe. Hence, the universe itself, outside of being observable, has a limited size. That naturally leads to a question of "what happens a the end".

Numerous analogies have always been used to describe this. Most have already been brought up in this thread (circles, etc). The most famous is that of a balloon. To a 3d observer, a balloon's surface is of limited space. To the ant though, the surface of balloon is endless.

That observation never quite sat with me though. It works for an ant - incapable of reason, but swap out the situation for a PERSON sitting on another circular surface (like, say, a planet), and we have figured out quite readily that our surface is unending but finite - it's obvious - go in another direction and you end up circling back.

By the same token, you can't just easily dismiss a perceived infinity of the universe via analogy as a meaningless question. There must be a logical mechanic behind it. Either the universe literally ends with a wall (highly unlikely), it truly is infinite, or, there is some mechanism by which you "double back" and circle back to your previous position. Just personally, I've never seen a truly convincing mechanic for explaining just how the last one would work. The infinity mechanic makes more sense. Not that I'm saying that the universe is definitely infinite. I'm just saying that before I truly embrace that ideas I need a working model of how it would work as perceived infinity, outside of an analogy or "it just works that way".

Re:What does that even mean? (5, Funny)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072116)

There's a wall and a telescope, where you can see into the alternate universe where everyone wears cowboy hats.

Re:What does that even mean? (1)

bigjocker (113512) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072208)

I salute you, fellow futurama buff!!!

Re:What does that even mean? (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072522)

Am I the only one who read that comment and the voice in my head sounded like Prof. Farnsworth?

Re:What does that even mean? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072158)

More turtles.

Re:What does that even mean? (1)

Primitive Pete (1703346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072198)

Yes, a wall. And if you listen closely, you can hear the neighbors arguing.

Re:What does that even mean? (2)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072240)

I think I misunderstood your question in my previous response. By "outer edge", do you mean "edge of the universe outside the observable universe"? If so, there is no edge to the universe. However, you can still talk about the universe's size.

Imagine the universe to be like the surface of a sphere. To a "flatlander" living in the surface, there is no edge. They can go round and round as much as they want. The "observable universe" would be some part of this surface, a circular "cap" centered on some particular point (the Earth's location). This research studies how much bigger the whole sphere is than the "cap".

Or, the universe could be infinite. The study only put a bound on the size of the rest of the universe: at least 250 times bigger. It could actually be infinitely bigger than the observable universe.

Re:What does that even mean? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072548)

While your comments are appreciated, I've always considered such an explanation as crap. If the matter within the universe is expanding, it has to be expanding into something. What is that something?

Saying it's like a balloon proves the point. The balloon may be expanding, but it is expanding into the box/room/whatever. Your explanation simply says the balloon is expanding into itself.

The same goes for the origination of the Big Bang (or Expansion). You can't say the matter in the universe was in a ball (metaphorically speaking) and then at some point it began to expand because it has to expand into something, not into itself. Further, what was that point of matter sitting in before it expanded? Was it sitting in emptiness? If so, what was that emptiness contained in?

I enjoy seeing new discoveries like this, and pretty much anything related, but this is the one explanation I have always thought was a cop out. If you don't know what the universe is expanding into, then say so. Don't say it's expanding but not into anything.

I'm confused. (2)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072028)

If the universe started with a big bang, with all matter originated in an extremely compact volume, and if it's radius can't expand faster than light, then there should be no points in the universe beyond what we can see (as limited by light speed.) What am I missing?

Re:I'm confused. (4, Informative)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072068)

Supposedly matter cannot move faster than light. But the expansion of the universe following the Big Bang involves the dimensions of space-time. It's not the movement of matter, but the movement of existence itself in which that matter exists which can produce FTL expansion.

Re:I'm confused. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072316)

Which means that galaxies which are observable right now, will eventually blink out of (visible) existence due to the speed with which they are departing away from us.

Re:I'm confused. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072076)

You're missing the bottom part of the shaft and the balls. More tongue too.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072102)

If the universe started with a big bang, with all matter originated in an extremely compact volume, and if it's radius can't expand faster than light, then there should be no points in the universe beyond what we can see (as limited by light speed.) What am I missing?

Evidently, 250 times what you can see currently

Re:I'm confused. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072120)

Where did you get the idea that the universe can't expand faster than light?
See this [wikipedia.org] for a start.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072138)

You have this wrong. First of all, there was no matter at the Big Bang. Second of all there's nothing in physics that says space itself is bound by the speed of light. That is a limit to matter, and probably to all force propagation as well, but space isn't matter or energy, it isn't a force, and thus it is not bound by those particular rules. Thus inflationary theories do have space expanding at a much faster rate than c.

Re:I'm confused. (2)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072396)

That doesn't make any sense either. c is defined as the speed of light in space. So if space expands relative to some imaginary non-expanding absolute reference frame, then c would have been traveling _slower_ relative to the non-expanding reference frame before the expansion -- so you could still only see the same distance before the expansion.

The second problem is the concept of a non-expanding absolute reference frame. There should be no such thing under the Big Bang model -- space didn't exist before the Big Bang. An observer can't observe space from a reference frame outside of space itself. So in fact it is impossible for there to be any expansion of space itself -- there can only be acceleration of matter within the space. (And that's all we observe now -- matter is accelerating away from other matter in the universe, for as-yet unknown reasons.)

Re:I'm confused. (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072580)

That doesn't make any sense either.

Exactly. If space is expanding, what is it expanding into?

Re:I'm confused. (5, Interesting)

taylor (11728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072140)

The key idea is that of inflation: general relativity allows for the distance between points to increase faster than the speed of light. Alan Guth's theory for inflation proposes that this in fact occured in the early universe, and the theory is now backed up by observations of fluctuations in the microwave background radiation (among others), where microscopic fluctuations were "frozen in" due to the rapid expansion. The consequence of this inflation is that much of the current universe is not within our 14 Gyr lightcone.

As a side note, the big hub-bub about dark energy is that it appears (based on current observations) that our universe may be entering a second inflationary period. Fortunately, the timescale for this is on the order 100 Gyr, so it will be unlikely to effect our lives directly.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072348)

...fortunately, we can still fear false vacuum decay hitting us at any moment ;)

Re:I'm confused. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072162)

Isn't the expansion exponential? Even though the speed of light is a constant, I think there are other factors that would determine the size of the universe. Maybe there were conditions present at the big bang which permitted initial expansion faster than the speed of light.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072168)

Check out the concept of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_%28physics%29">inflation.</a> Basic gist is that a fraction of a moment after the big bang (10^-35 or so) the universe expanded enormously, by around 10^25 on each axis (thus, 10^75 in volume) or so. It's still debated as a hypothesis, but is largely "accepted."

Re:I'm confused. (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072188)

Sorry, the formatting option for comments are poorly named. Clickable link:

Inflation [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'm confused. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072200)

They think there was a period in the very early Universe called "The Inflationary Period" where space may have expanded exponentially.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_%28cosmology%29

Re:I'm confused. (0)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072230)

I'll be glad when we have better answers than "the big bang". It explains the cosmic background radiation, but presents more questions than it answers, and I simply don't think it's accurate.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072332)

It's turtles all the way down.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072380)

Surely you must have something more accurate at hand to think that...

Re:I'm confused. (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072334)

You'll never observe light that is traveling away from you.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

ad454 (325846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072354)

General Relativity does not have a speed of light constraint on the expansion of space itself. It is thought that during the inflationary period after the big bang that the universe went though a rapidly expansion phase where space expanded much faster than the speed of light.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_(cosmology) [wikipedia.org]

Think of ants crawling at a fix speed, called "C" on the surface of a balloon, while someone is blowing up (inflating) that balloon so that the rate of increase in the circumference of that balloon is much faster than 2 x "C". During that inflationary period, two nearby ants would not be able to crawl to each other.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072590)

You can't see everything past the midpoint, or the center of origin. It's the classical two trains leave the station at Noon, both heading in different direactions at the speed of light, you'll never be able to see further back (or farther away) than the station.

However what they are saying additionally is that there were 250 trains leaving the station, all in different directions at the speed of light, and we'll never be able to see anything but our own train, and the path it took, scenery it passed by.

However this should be fairly easy to prove if there are any gravity lenses on either side of our slice of the pie so we could see over the fence due to lensing effects.

If we don't have any convenient Gravity lenses, we could start shooting off Voyager style space probes with big Hubble like attachments on them to take pictures of places we can't see from here.

Finished? (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072030)

Can we now be done with all these "my universe is bigger" disputes? Or is someone else going to come along now and say it's 500 times larger?

Re:Finished? (1, Funny)

MouseR (3264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072126)

The black matter universe is bigger than ours :-(

Re:Finished? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072556)

It is possible that dark matter doesn't exist and the extra matter we think is 'dark' is a gravity ripple or wake.

Ah yes, a Bayesian model (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072040)

Makes it sound much more sophisticated than what the same kind of technique is called when used by laymen: "pulling numbers out of your ass".

implying...? (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072046)

First, How can you use a bayesian model to average results into a precise number?
Second, Why are you bothering to do this from theories on top of inelegant theories?
Third, if the universe actually is that size What does that mean for the heat death of the universe?

Re:implying...? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072222)

How can you use a bayesian model to average results into a precise number?

"At least 250" is not a precise number.

Why are you bothering to do this from theories on top of inelegant theories?

Good question. Practically, nothing. It's one of those "maybe we'll figure out something important, like velcro or tang or space pens in the process" things. Plus, people really like to think about the origins and destination of the universe, even though the time scale (10^10 years) is far bigger than the scale of human life (10^2).

if the universe actually is that size What does that mean for the heat death of the universe?

Nothing, directly. The assumptions that went into the model call for a universe that undergoes heat death (justified by observation), and the conclusion doesn't alter that. The universe is still big and indefinitely expanding; it's just bigger than we realized.

Re:implying...? (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072596)

Nonsense: It's only 6000 years old.

Re:implying...? (2)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072312)

1. You assign probabilities to the various hypotheses according to how well they agree with observed data, and form a weighted average.

2. The theories aren't inelegant. They agree quite well with observed data, down to the detailed angular power spectrum of the cosmic background radiation. There are just a few uncertain parameters that need to be nailed down.

3. The universe will probably expand forever and suffer a "heat death". Or, if not forever, it will expand for a very long time and effectively suffer one before collapsing again.

how big? (2, Interesting)

solarlux (610904) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072092)

I recall reading a Scientific American article that indicated that the Universe had infinite size and mass, meaning that probabilistically, the exact construction and configuration of our observable universe would repeat itself (infinity tends to have nasty implications like that). Or to put it another way, another you is reading this somewhere (actually, an infinite number of you's, to be precise).

But crazy conjecture aside, does this talk of the 'full size' of the universe mean that the article even had its starting premise wrong?

Re:how big? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072170)

I think you might be confusing the Universe and the Multiverse. What you are describing sounds similar to M theory, but you said "Universe", which doesn't make sense.

The "Universe" is understood to be spatially bound (though growing since the Big Bang). The Multiverse involves infinite parallel universes existing on different membranes of higher dimensions.

Re:how big? (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072184)

Umm that's wrong. The Big Bang model holds the universe is of finite size and matter.

Seriously even if it was infinite in size and matter that does not mean it would repeat itself. It would simply mean the universe would continue to expand.

Though again, this is wrong.

Re:how big? (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072360)

Yes, many cosmologists think the universe may be infinite. The size estimate is a lower bound. The universe is at least 250 times bigger than the observable universe. It could actually be infinitely bigger. We can't prove that. We can just put a lower bound on its size.

Re:how big? (1)

microTodd (240390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072460)

I've heard that theory as well, but check out my sig.

Creationism (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072130)

Take that Creationism!

Re:Creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072288)

Uh, yeah... whatever. This actually doesn't prove or dis-prove creation. *shrug*

Re:Creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072478)

So God has created much much more than we can see. What's the problem?

My finding (1)

jvillain (546827) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072136)

The bigger the fool the more confidence they have.

What if were were near the "edge"? (2)

MrLogic17 (233498) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072152)

From what I gather, we're stuck somewhere in the middle-ish of the universe. What if were were located near the "edge" of the expanding universe, and the "edge" was within our observable light cone. What would we see? Nothing? or is the "edge" of the universe expanding faster than the speed of light, therefore one could never see the "edge"?

Re:What if were were near the "edge"? (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072250)

The hell of it is that not only are we in the middle of the universe, we are also at the edge of the universe.

Re:What if were were near the "edge"? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072414)

Think of the universe as a balloon. (A REALLY big balloon.) We're 2-dimensional creatures (say, squares... maybe a trapezoid) living on the inside surface of it. We can look left, right, forward and backwards, but can't look up or down. You could travel all over the balloon-universe and never find an edge. Yet, the balloon-universe has a definite size. It isn't infinite. The same is true for our Universe. If you could traverse the entire Universe (ignoring the expansion of the Universe and the huge distances you would have to cover for a second), you could wind up right back where you started without ever having seen an edge.

Re:What if were were near the "edge"? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072436)

Do you ever want to, while standing on the surface of a large sphere (Earth being a good approximation), to travel so far that the "edge" will come into view of your horizon?

Re:What if were were near the "edge"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072498)

What would make the most sense is you'd just see black. If I had to guess, an observer looking out past the edge of the universe would see nothing but darkness. No stars, no wall, just nothing....

However, if the universe is curved, as the surface of the Earth is, I guess you'd see what's at the opposite edge.
To picture this, just consider a 2D surface on a 3D object (surface of the Earth layed out on the sphere of the Earth) and NOW imagine that this can happen one dimension higher (3D space mapped onto a 4D object).

Re:What if were were near the "edge"? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072618)

From what I gather, we're stuck somewhere in the middle-ish of the universe.

Also, Earth was the middle of the Solar System. And the Solar System was in the middle-ish of the Milky Way. In other words, we've been spectacularly wrong about that sort of thing several times already, and it's safe to say we're probably not middle-ish of anything.

RTFW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072154)

Did you read the wiki page submitter. The universe is expanding, so we can observe items that are now 40 billion light years away.

Reminds me of a song... (1)

Onuma (947856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072160)

until the 20th century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear.
since the inital publication of the charged electromagnetic spectrum, humans learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear...is less than one millionth of reality.

It's more than a MILLION times bigger, in fact!

(Possibly) the first of many to point out error. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072176)

The first sentence of the description of this article is incorrect. Due to the expansion of the universe the most distant observable objects are further away then the 13.75 (-ish) billion light years that corresponds to the universe's age.

Hilariously, this is stated in both linked sources. In the article, it is even in the first paragraph!

Just totally wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072196)

A complete misapplication of Bayesian statistics. There is no viable prior for these quantities (except maybe that they must be some real number?), and therefore Bayesian statistics tells you nothing. The "answer" you get is just a function of the "prior" you made up. Garbage in, garbage out.

The edge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072212)

What would the edge of the universe be. If we say it has a size it must have a wall, or maybe it just thins out like dropping a pile of flour on the counter. My theory is that the universe is spherical, and if you were to travel in a straight line long enough, you would return to the same point. One other theory is that it butts up to the next dimension of our universe.

Makes you wonder what's beyond :) (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072238)

if the universe is 15 billion light years and that's only 1/250th of the space. Empty space? parallel universe. Is the universe this big giant godly fart? :)

Re:Makes you wonder what's beyond :) (1)

gregg (42218) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072352)

Is the universe this big giant godly fart? :)

Yes. Yes it is... The Big Bang [youtube.com]

summary should be up to 28 billion light years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072254)

If the universe is 14 billion years old and is roughly spherical, then the outer limit of what we could observe could be as much as 28 billion light years away, but probably less since we're somewhere in the interior.

Stargate Universe (1)

cdp0 (1979036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072314)

That's why Stargate Universe ends: they figured out they can't reach the edge of the Universe in just a few seasons, to figure out what that mystery is all about.

Not a physicist, but wish I were (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072318)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't our observable constrain be 14 billion light years IF we were at the epicenter of the big bang?

Instead, shouldn't there be some area of the sky that we can only find much younger stars, and others that appear further away?

Re:Not a physicist, but wish I were (3, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072506)

We *ARE* at the "epicenter".

Consider a balloon with polka dots on it. When it inflates, each dot expands away from the others. We are a polkadot on the three-dimensional surface of space-time, and every point in the universe is expanding away from us as space-time expands. If we were in M31, we would still see ourselves at the "center" of the expansion. If we were in that galaxy 14 Billion light years away, we'd still see ourselves at the "center".

Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072510)

Which city is closest to the center of the Earth?

That is, what point on the earth's surface is the 'middle'?

When you can answer that, you might begin to see that talking about the epicenter of the big bang isn't really going to get you anywhere.

As a smart man (Einstein) once put it, everything is relative.

Re:Not a physicist, but wish I were (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072534)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't our observable constrain be 14 billion light years IF we were at the epicenter of the big bang?

There is no epicenter of the big bang. The big bang happened everywhere.

interesting that... (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072328)

we can see much smaller than farther? i would have thought both were infinite?

That is some interesting numbers (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072342)

That is some interesting numbers but that almost indicates that the radius would be more than ~6 times thus the universe is actually ~88 billion years old... yeah crude math aside... still way more than before.

Re:That is some interesting numbers (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072376)

nm... I should start to RTFM.

Observable universe is bigger than 13.7 billion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072378)

The size of the observable universe is actually bigger than 13.7 billion light years, it's actually explained in the Wikipedia article linked....

Curvature prior (1)

vikstar (615372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072402)

Why such a strange prior? I understand that they believe that the curvature is 0, but how do they know they should drop it down so quickly? What about the rest of the prior, why does it look so strange? What would happen if they changed the prior. I'm guessing that tweaking the prior would yield greatly different universe sizes.

number of stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35072452)

So, does this mean there are approximately ( 4 * pi * 250^3 ) / 3 more stars than we thought there were?

The nature of the universe, answered years ago... (5, Funny)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072540)

Beverly:
If there's nothing wrong with me...maybe there's something wrong with the universe!

Here's one you shouldn't be able to answer...

Computer, what is the nature of the universe?

Computer:
The universe is a spheroid region, 705 meters in diameter.

Math is math. (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072584)

In 50yrs we'll find the universe is 500+ times larger. Heisenberg is rolling in his grave.

Please please explain me this once and for all (1)

Altesse (698587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35072610)

IANAP, INEAS (I'm not even a scientist),

but I'm interested in astrophysics and never really found a clear explanation for a dummy like me :

This seems to imply that the universe is expanding much quicker than the speed of light, or at least did so during a period before now. How is that even possible ? And does this mean that the speed of light is correlated with this expansion speed, and can vary over time ?

Don't mock me, and thanks if you clarify this.
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