The Globe and Mail newspaper, in a small blurb in one of the back pages, peaked my curiousity today and led me to Scientific American, where scientists are speculating about the future of cosmology. They ask a tantalizing question: as the universe continues to expand rapidly, does it wipe out traces of its own origin?
In 1908, astronomers thought our galaxy was the entire universe. They believed the Milky Way was like an island, surrounded by limitless darkness. What we know now is that our galaxy is only one of 400 billion galaxies in the observable universe (yes, billion with a "b").
We are indeed tiny.
We also know the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang.
Which brings us to the core issue in the recent debate: scientists think that the accelerating expansion of our universe may eventually pull galaxies away from each other faster than the speed of light. This means we won't be able to see them anymore. We may lose reference points for measurement and we may lose all signs that the Big Bang ever happened. Currently, we may be living in the peak period for measuring the cosmos from Earth. In the future, the universe make look very dark and changeless, with only a few visible stars. It may be like being on the inside of a black hole while the real action happens beyond the event horizon outside.
Scientific American has an interesting video, that you can see here. If you can, expand it so you can see it full screen. The article by Lawrence M. Krauss and Robert J. Scherrer is here.
For related posts on zanepost, see:
To an observer in space, does our planet even exist? and
Are parallel universes real?
Many thanks to Steve Woods in the UK for the great photograph of his son looking at the sky.
He made the picture available on the the stock.xchng.