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Dawn's First Light

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the from-the-beginning dept.

Space 22

Uosdwis writes "Scientists using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope say they have detected light that may be from the earliest objects in the universe. If confirmed, the observation provides a glimpse of an era more than 13 billion years ago when, after the fading embers of the theorized Big Bang gave way to millions of years of pervasive darkness, the universe came alive."

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well, actually... (3, Insightful)

avi33 (116048) | more than 8 years ago | (#13938604)

I think 'light' is a broadly applied term here, and fact is, the method they used was to measure cosmic radiation, and subtract from it the radiation levels of known galaxies to arrive at an amount that "must" be leftover from stars long past.

This CNN article [cnn.com] put it best: "The exercise was like taking a recording of a stadium full of loud people and subtracting the noise of every person except one to hear the voice of that single individual."

Re:well, actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13939492)

Well, "light" means electromagnetic radiation. "Radiation" covers protons, neutrinos, blah blah. So light is the correct term.

Re:well, actually... (1)

jgmaynard (925073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13947311)

Electromagnetic waves or em radiation is even better! lol JM

Dawn's First Post (1)

mrgeometry (689087) | more than 8 years ago | (#13938607)

I've never done this before, but: Dawn's First Post!

hehehe

Well, nice post, and nice articles.

The exercise was like taking a recording of a stadium full of loud people, then subtracting the noise of every person except one to hear the voice of that single individual.

I'm impessed. Even if they're wrong, it still seems to me like an impressive attempt to push the envelope on observations.

given (1)

PresidentEnder (849024) | more than 8 years ago | (#13938635)

Given that we all know earth is the center of the universe and therefore the first part of it, shouldn't all the light be moving away from us?

Re:given (1)

TheCarlMau (850437) | more than 8 years ago | (#13938819)

No, I am the center of the universe. I have never moved in my entire life, in fact. Everything just moves at my will to make it look like I am moving.

Re:given (5, Interesting)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#13939305)

Actually, according to Einstein's Principle of Equivalence, every and each person can define him/herself as the center of the Universe.

Try to verify for yourself by doing the following:

(1) get a blank sheet of paper,
(2) mark a dot (visibly large, but not terribly so) on the sheet,
(3) and then mark more dots around them,
(4) now take the sheet to a copier and copy it in the original size,
          then copy it again but with some magnification at this time
          (e.g., 125%)...be sure to print on transparency sheets.
(5) now put the magnified transparency overlaid onto the original
        (use the first marker at (2) as a reference first)...you see
          all the dots are moving away from the first dot.
(6) Now shift the reference point to another dot...choose whatever.
        You'll notice that, whatever dot you choose, the other dots
        appear to move away from it. Hence, everyone can be the center
        of the Universe.

Re:given (2, Interesting)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 8 years ago | (#13940530)

Interesting, but flawed.

I have another thought experiment for you. Take an uninflated balloon and a marker and make little dots all over the balloon. Blow the balloon up and notice how the outside surface follows your copy machine example with all the dots moving away from each other. However, dots close to one another are moving away from each other more slowly than dots farther away.

The universe is not a 2D surface, you can't throw away the Z-axis.

Now, notice how the center of the balloon is still the center and roughly the same distance from every dot and all dots are moving away from the center at roughly the same speed (but away from each other at varying speeds). Also, you can't move any single dot to where the core of the balloon is without moving ALL the other dots in the SAME direction. You can use any dot as a reference, but none of them display the characteristics of "the center".

Re:given (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13940836)

That won't give you a Z-axis, since the balloon is a 2D surface. The only difference is that the balloon is potentially not infinite in size, but wraps around. Those analogies are fine as they are, because trying to extend them by somehow magically including an extra axis is only going to confuse things.

It's the same problem as trying to make an uninitiated understand the concept of a hypercube, or 4 dimensions. The extra axis will only cause heads to explode, thus I like to call it the "axis of evil".

Best to just explain things as they are instead.

Re:given (1)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 8 years ago | (#13941816)

A balloon is not a 2D surface, it is a 3D object with lots of little atoms dancing around inside it. My whole point was that treating the universe like a 2D object is a flawed model. You -can- determine an absolute center of an expanding 3D object.

Re:given (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13941956)

Yes, but the expansion happens in two dimensions, from the point of view of those stars you drew on the balloon surface. Anyone living on a planet circling one of those stars won't have any idea about anything other than the surface of the balloon, since the 2d surface is a projection of the actual 3d universe. You can get the same effect by drawing points on a paper and then stretching the paper (supposing it was possible).

If you mean that the balloon is not a 2d representation, but represents a subset of stars in a portion of the universe (those that intersect the balloon surface), well, then you're omitting the stars inside and outside the balloon surface.

Re:given (2)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#13942244)

Guys, you need to get laid. You guys take this example way too seriously.

It's obviously a very, very simplified way to demonstrate the concept of curved spacetime and you'd have to tell your audience that.

Re:given (1)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 8 years ago | (#13943939)

Guys, you need to get laid.

That, I can whole heartedly agree with.

Re:given (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13940777)

(7) Discard unused 100% size copy.

Re:given (2, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#13941080)

Actually, according to Einstein's Principle of Equivalence, every and each person can define him/herself as the center of the Universe.

And, typically does ...

Re:given (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 8 years ago | (#13951999)

Anyone who actually has to does that test with a copy machine should have no right to breed.

damn.. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13938661)

..the Intelligent Designer is one clever mo'fo.

Re:damn.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13940506)

Dammit you made me shoot coffee out my nose at work! People look at you funny when you do that.

Big What? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13938681)

Surely you've been skipping your Intelligent Design coursework!
Repent! Repent!

Milliways? (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13940222)

Could this be light from Milliways(TM), the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?

Re:Milliways? (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 8 years ago | (#13940321)

No, as of yet it's still our local mattress supplier

Re:Milliways? (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 8 years ago | (#13940755)

No its the light from the Big Bang Burger Bar [wikipedia.org]
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