General Question

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

If the universe is infinite than how can it be expanding?

Asked by xxporkxsodaxx (1386points) April 26th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

23 Answers

Breefield's avatar

I think the people who came up with that idea think that the contents of the universe are expanding, but not the universe itself. I could be wrong though, just a guess.

jamms's avatar

its expanding if you believe the big bang theory. imagine a small center of space surrounded by infinate space. small piece exploded and constantly grows / expands. What we currently know as space is the result of that explosion, however it will grow and expand forever.

soundedfury's avatar

When modern cosmology talks of an expanding and infinite universe, it’s not that the universe itself is expanding. The distance between galaxies is expanding. So, even though an infinite space isn’t expanding, the relative volume of space around a galactic cluster is growing because the distance between those galaxies is growing.

However, there are viable finite models available as well. In the 1980s, Stephen Hawking was able to construct a mathematical model of the universe that is both finite but without boundaries or edges.

Although, you could make an argument that anything infinite is also expansive by nature.

kapuerajam's avatar

well it all has to do with your view on the universe as we know it we could be the creation of another more powerful being simpaly dreaming and when it wakes up we will all non-exist but my view is that the universe is expanding onto itself and will eventually collapse and start all over again

phoenyx's avatar

Maybe the universe isn’t infinite?

batman's avatar

First let me say this is my theory that occured to me in early 07 and I’ve been thinking about it for over a year, but it is a theory. I’ll call it the Big Wave Theory.

There was no big bang

The Universe always was and always will be. There was no beginning and there will be no end. An infinite Universe is so large, that it acts as a fluid. Which explains the seemingly continually expanding universe. It also explains why it is speeding up. Typical sin wave, like everything else in the universe is based on. Enter String Theory here. This Big Wave theory also alows the universe to continue and not end in the big collapse.

An example of this is the effect a tsunami presents as it’s pressure wave moves across the ocean. As it approaches it compresses the particles of water, driving them closer together and decompresses as it moves past, allowing the particle to move away from one another. The Universe acts in the same manner. We are in a decompression stage.

The problem with infinity is in the conception of it. People are finite, and there intellect and understanding are finite, so it is simply impossible for most anyone to understand it or even conceive of the concept. They necessarily need for all things to have a beginning and an end. So they by necessity come up with models, theories, concepts that fit their limits of understanding, or ability to conceive of infinity; in a way a kind of self defense.

If you believe the Universe in finite, I would suggest it is your intellect or perception that is finite and not the Universe.

Wayne McMichael 4.9.08

phoenyx's avatar

How do you overcome the problem that gravity is always attractive? Wouldn’t all the matter be together in one mass given infinite time?

batman's avatar

Well, if all matter is everywhere, there would not be a focal point to attract to. There would be as much attracting matter apart as together. Thanks

phoenyx's avatar

I find it hard to believe that the universe is somehow in a perfect gravitational equilibrium at every point or that I can take any subset of the universe and that is in equilibrium with the rest of the universe.

Consider a finite system where I have several stars falling in on each other. I then place an infinite amount of stars roughly uniform around my system. The stars would still fall in on each other.

soundedfury's avatar

Yeah, sorry Batman, but your theory was proposed in the 19th century (and was the default view) but ultimately fails once you crunch the numbers. There is simply no mathematical way for the universe to be at equilibrium given the experiential data we have available.

If the stars were distributed roughly uniformly, we’d have an impossibly bright night sky, as every point we look would have a star. Even dust and other particles in between stars would be bright, as the light from the uniform distribution of stars would add energy until they radiate. Plus, we know that galaxies and galactic clusters are not uniformly distributed. With what we have observationally, your system would collapse on itself due to uneven distribution.

batman's avatar

ok, first, the Wave Theory has never been proposed. The Steady State Theory was proposed by Hoyl (sp) and argued vehemently against the Big Bang Theory around 1960 or so. But Steady State could not account for the expansion of the universe that we can see. The only reason Big Bang was accepted was because of the expansion wild card. But now the Big Bang can not account for the speeding up of the expansion.

There are so many theoretical, unprovable, unsubstantiated things that must come together to support the Big Bang, frankly I am surprised anyone accepts at all, except that scientist, mathematicians, physicists are so afraid to go against current trends, even if they don’t make sense. And Big Bang makes no sense at all.

First, you would necessarily have to differentiate between space and what we call the universe, that contains matter. Space is not nothing. Secondly BB requires that everything sprung spontaneously from nothing, or that it sprung from a point the was infinitely small and dense. Well, there you go again with the infinity concept. Show me the math that reconciles starting with 0 and builds everything we see from it. Well let’s say all matter was here but condensed into this infinitely dense, infinitely small point. Well you have 2 problems right there. If it’s infinitely dense, then the matter contained in it is infinite, so you are back to infinity matter, which the BB can’t account for. You simply can not condense all the matter we see now into a space small enough to support the BB. It won’t go there, can’t possibly go there. But if it could, where was it?… in the middle of an infinite space? And what was the space, or was there no space, and BB created the space… well now you are creating nothing from something. So BB doesn’t work, any way you figure it. And the data that does support it also will support the BW.

The BW doesn’t have the mathematical impossibilities the BB has and doesn’t require the impossible theoretical miracles.

In regards to everything collapsing in on it self… the universe is dynamic. Even if you accept the BB, we already see the universe recreating itself, galaxies being formed and blown apart, stars being forms and blown apart. We see all of the dynamics of a Steady State universe working to maintain it self, blow it self apart and starting over the process of creating and recreating galaxies, stars, planets. It’s all going on now.

Another problem with the BB is, if it exploded as it suggest, the bulk of the matter would be at the leading edge of the explosion, unless the explosion was a steady ongoing process that evenly distributed the matter as the other matter dissipated. That doesn’t work. And what is it exploding in to. And if we go the leading edge of the explosion, what do we run in to… a wall?

Hubble has shown us already there is a star at almost every point in the sky, and it is extremely limited in it’s view. With light degrading, being absorbed, waves canceling one another… the bright sky concept doesn’t work. If it did, it would already. As far as even distribution. If the universe was not dynamic, it might evenly distribute, like pouring your crème in the coffee. But it’s not just crème and coffee is it? Because crème is not dynamic. The universe is more like dropping an alko seltzer in your coffee, but the reaction just makes more alka seltzer… well that’s a bit simple for this.

There are so many reasons the BW works, that it’s impossible to find a reason why it wouldn’t.

Hey I’m typing this in a hurry. I could answer one question at a time better.

I appreciate you all. There’s so much more for me to say.

phoenyx's avatar

I find your idea intriguing, but I still don’t understand how you overcome the problem that gravity is always attractive and an infinite amount of time.

(I’m not trying to argue for BB)

soundedfury's avatar

I’m not even talking about the Steady State theory, although that is one of the many theories that had infinite space and equilibrium and have fallen to observational data.

Hubble has not shown us a star at almost any point. It’s shown us, instead, that galaxies like to cluster into something called the Cosmic Web. In between we believe there is some sort of dark matter or energy, but it’s quite clear that there are vast stretches that don’t have any stars.

But you keep bringing up this notion of something outside of the Universe with the Big Bang theory. It’s a logical flaw – if there is or isn’t something outside of the Universe is irrelevant, because we could not observe it. It’s Occam’s Razor all over again if it can’t be observed and verified, cut it out of the theory.

And the stuff about all the matter being flung to the leading edge of the explosion kind of focuses on the way low-energy terrestrial explosions occur, but we’ve been able to reproduce a state similar to that of about 1/300 of a second after the Big Bang in particle accelerators, which shows that as particles decay into stable particles, the changes mimic a lot of what we see perfectly. Sure, it’s not conclusive, but it corresponds with theory.

And what is this about matter not being able to be condensed into a singularity, a point of infinite mass and zero radius? We already have black holes which do this exact behavior – zero radius and incredible dense mass. Black holes have no size. Sure, they have an event horizon that we use as a marker of “size,” but in reality they are markers of mass. So, we know that matter can be compressed into zero radius with incredibly high mass. What stops the jump to a big bang-style singularity?

Plus, we have matter at the quantum level that have the same type of features – point particles with mass and other properties, but zero radius. The electron may be a point particle, quarks are almost certainly.

Nature is bizarre, I’ll grant you that.

What it seems, though, is that you’re arguing out of two sides of your mouth. You are faulting Big Bang for having infinities, while arguing that the universe itself is infinite and timeless, without creation. It’s flat out contradictory.

You say there is no reason why it wouldn’t work, but it seems you haven’t accounted for gravity and you haven’t explained how the “wave” got started. What powers it? Where is the energy coming from?

(For the record, I like the idea of a finite universe without boundaries.)

batman's avatar

ok, one at a time:

Q-I find your idea intriguing, but I still don’t understand how you overcome the problem that gravity is always attractive and an infinite amount of time.
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ok. that works for either state. BB or BW. What’s the difference. The point is, the universe is dynamic in either case. If it wouldn’t work with BW, it wouldn’t work with BB. At this point in time, the state of each is the same. Gravity works we know. It holds galaxies together, even attracts galaxies to one another. That will be the case in either senerio. There is another point. In a BB senerio, there would necessarily be a point in space where it took place, where matter is not moving through space. This matter or area of space would have less mass. BB requires that matter is flung apart at faster than the speed of light, and would necessarily have infinite mass. So mass at the edge would necessarily have significantly more mass than that at or near the center. We don’t see any evidence for that. Gravity is the same and works the same in either BB BW. What do you see would be the difference? Stars still explode and blow apart and make new stars in either case. I don’t see a conflict with this.

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Q-I’m not even talking about the Steady State theory, although that is one of the many theories that had infinite space and equilibrium and have fallen to observational data.
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No Big Wave Theory has ever been proposed. Steady Stae fell STRICTlY & ONLY because of the illusion of an expanding universe.

Obsevational data says the universe’s expansion is speeding up. BB can not account for that. That one fact nulifys BB. There is nothing to support that except more unreasonable, unverififyable data. BB is dead already. BW does account for that, and in a very simple way. Because we know that is how physics works. Sin wave are ubitious throughout the universe. It’s a staple in string theory. Why would the universe contradict that principal? BB does contradict string theory, unless you belive that the universe will collapse on itself again. But there is no evidence for that at all. The BW satifies the question of an expanding universe and a speeding expansion, and does not require it to colapse back in on itself. Why wouldn’t you accept the simplest solution for this?
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Q-Hubble has not shown us a star at almost any point. It’s shown us, instead, that galaxies like to cluster into something called the Cosmic Web. In between we believe there is some sort of dark matter or energy, but it’s quite clear that there are vast stretches that don’t have any stars.

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There are enough stars already observable to nulify that theory of a bright sky. Hubble has shown that we can look up and not see what’s there. If there were more there, we still would not see it.There are many reasons for that.

The Cosmic Web, again this works for either state, BB or BW. It’s the dynamics of the universe that cause this, gravity, cintrifugal and cintripital forces, things get blown apart and come together… either way. That wouldn’t change in either senerio.
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Q-But you keep bringing up this notion of something outside of the Universe with the Big Bang theory. It’s a logical flaw – if there is or isn’t something outside of the Universe is irrelevant, because we could not observe it. It’s Occam’s Razor all over again if it can’t be observed and verified, cut it out of the theory.
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Well then we have to cut out the BB. Because we can not verify that there is an outter edge. We can only speculate. I disagree that it is irrelevant however. If there was a BB, then where did it take place. If the BB is the sourse of time and space, then it requires a size, a time and a place to happen. How can there be a size, a time and a place to happen before there was a universe? There could not be a size of the matter with the BB because matter, time and space did not exist.

So you are willing to accept an infinite space and a finite universe? why would you limit yourself that way. BB requires that the laws of physics were created at the instant of the BB or shortly after, but it can not account for the space it exploded in to. Talk about contradiction. If there is space, there is necessarily time, and so space and time were already here, or there would be no place for the BB to happen.

BW doesn’t require all of that. it just is as it was and will be. You don’t have to make something from nothing and nothing from something. It just works. If it is the simplest answer… whay not accept it?
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Q-And the stuff about all the matter being flung to the leading edge of the explosion kind of focuses on the way low-energy terrestrial explosions occur, but we’ve been able to reproduce a state similar to that of about 1/300 of a second after the Big Bang in particle accelerators, which shows that as particles decay into stable particles, the changes mimic a lot of what we see perfectly. Sure, it’s not conclusive, but it corresponds with theory.
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again, why wouldn’t that be true in either case BB or BW. Just because it could be true doesn’t mean it is. With BW, you don’t need that to happen one time in the beginning.
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Q-And what is this about matter not being able to be condensed into a singularity, a point of infinite mass and zero radius? We already have black holes which do this exact behavior – zero radius and incredible dense mass. Black holes have no size. Sure, they have an event horizon that we use as a marker of “size,” but in reality they are markers of mass. So, we know that matter can be compressed into zero radius with incredibly high mass. What stops the jump to a big bang-style singularity?
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Black holes do not have zero radius… or at least we can’t measure that. That theory grew out of the BB, because the BB requires it… it can’t be verified. Besides we know that high energy waves do escape the holes, at a right angle to the radius. It suggest the matter is being transformed to energy. BB requires that space, time, mass and energy were created at once more or less… but again, with no space, it would have no place to be created… and you can’t have space without time, so it couldn’t be the beginning… it could be an event in time and space, but time and space would necessarily have to pre-exist. I could imagine all matter being created from enough energy to account for it, but again, you can’t account for the enery coming from nothing. BB disqualifies itself. It can’t create everything, including time and space from enery, because enery would not exist yet…
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Q-What it seems, though, is that you’re arguing out of two sides of your mouth. You are faulting Big Bang for having infinities, while arguing that the universe itself is infinite and timeless, without creation. It’s flat out contradictory.
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I am saying that the universe is infinite without a begining or an end. But I am argueing that the BB can not use the term infinite, because it is by it’s nature finite. In a finite universe, I would not even be able to conceive of infinity… but yet I can. With the BB, space, time and matter are required to be finite, which begs the question, what is outside of it’s reality? a wall, a Burger King:)
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Q-You say there is no reason why it wouldn’t work, but it seems you haven’t accounted for gravity and you haven’t explained how the “wave” got started. What powers it? Where is the energy coming from?
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Gravity would be the same in either senerio>>>
But the WAVE! NOW YOU ARE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTION!
I would suggest again that the universe is dynamic. Meaning things are blowing up with terrible forces. It is possible that there are forces that we can not concieve of and have not even imagined. What could create a wave in the universe? that is the ONLY question with BW. But considering all the question with BB, that’s pretty simple.

soundedfury's avatar

I’m not going to argue every point, because I think that you’re conflating the Big Bang theory with relativity when the two are no synonymous. Yes, the Big Bang theory descends from relativity, but you need to be more rigorous in your concepts here:

“BB requires that matter is flung apart at faster than the speed of light, and would necessarily have infinite mass.”

No, that is patently false. Because the Big Bang theory is bound by relativity, there is no such thing as faster than the speed of light.

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“If the BB is the sourse of time and space, then it requires a size, a time and a place to happen.”

Again, no. To argue that the Big Bang requires a size, time and space fundamentally misunderstands the Big Bang theory.

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“Black holes do not have zero radius… or at least we can’t measure that. That theory grew out of the BB, because the BB requires it… it can’t be verified. Besides we know that high energy waves do escape the holes, at a right angle to the radius. It suggest the matter is being transformed to energy.”

Black holes are points, the same that quarks and electrons are points. They are mathematically as close to zero as possible in existence. But this is relativity, not Big Bang. AND high energy waves do not escape black holes. There are two phenomena that could be what you are describing. The first is gas jets, which are caused by intense twisting of the magnetic fields as an accretion disk succumbs to the event horizon. In this scenario, some of the matter is heated to a plasma and ejected by the magnetic field before it hits the event horizon, giving the appearance of a jet leaving the black hole.

The second possibility is that you’re referring to the emission of particle pairs near the event horizon. It’s really complicated, but what is happening is some quantum spookiness in which particle/anti-particle pairs are being ripped apart at the event horizon. In some cases, one of the pair uses the energy released in that action to escape before crossing the event horizon, which is akin to a black hole emitting particles (roughly at right angles).

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“In a finite universe, I would not even be able to conceive of infinity… but yet I can.”

Another great logical fallacy, once used to try to argue for the existence of God. Just because you can conceive of something doesn’t mean it actually exists, nor does the fact that something doesn’t exist limit your conception of it.

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We’re just getting started on what you’d have to account for in order for your Wave theory to be valid:

* Cosmic microwave background radiation
* Big Bang/s model nucleosynthes
* Morphology of galaxies
* Agreement of the age of oldest stars with Hubble expansion and cosmic background radiation to date the universe.

soundedfury's avatar

Oh, I almost forgot: you also need to account for the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. How can an infinite system not devolve into a bitterly cold and barren universe?

batman's avatar

you haven’t made any arguments. The bottom line is. BB can’t happen, because there is no place for it to happen, no such thing as matter or energy, or even time. BB can’t happen because it claims to be the start of everything… there is no other arguement.

batman's avatar

Well the bottom line is. You claim the BB started everything from nothing. I claim there was no start. That is the only difference.

batman's avatar

I’m traveling… I’ll get back to you. These are good questions and I appreciate you and them:)

pygeek's avatar

The brief, concise answer:
The universe is finite and is indeed expanding. Empty space which “contains” the universe is not.

Coloma's avatar

@batman

Holy smokes Batman!
lol

dabbler's avatar

It’s not infinite. Space itself is expanding, the bounds of the universe are expanding.

kritiper's avatar

@batman I think there could have been many Big Bangs over the countless eons.
The endless void has always been,
as is/was the matter within.

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