Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vast expanses of nothing

According to some show I watched recently in the far distant future I night sky may be a loner place. In the show it was talking about how galaxies aren't so much moving away from each other but the area of nothing in between galaxies is expanding by some yet to be explained physics. But the shocking thing is these expanses of nothing between galaxies seem to be expanding faster than the light from nearby galaxies can reach us. So billions of years into the future all other galaxies maybe to far away for the light ever to reach because the void in between galaxies is growing to quickly.

The thing that strikes me as odd about this is apparently there is in fact something that can move faster than the speed of light, which there isn't supposed to be according to modern physics. If the universe itself can expand at a rate faster than light itself does that other things can going faster than the speed of light? What does that mean for Einstein's theories of relativity? If I remember his theory correctly moving faster than the speed of light would make it seem that time in the rest of the universe had stopped, or something to that effect.

I've been thinking about this concept of the universe expanding faster than light can travel and it got me thinking about other times that stuff seems to break through this supposedly impossible barrier. And I started to think about black holes. Once anything goes passed the event horizon of a black hole it becomes impossible to escape. Even light can't escape the gravitational pull of a black hole it is said, thus the name black hole. A hole in space that is black because no light escapes.

Now I don't know much about the physics of black holes. Maybe the gravity there is able to slow light down to below it's max speed. I don't know. But it seems to me what is happening is in a black hole the speed at which stuff falls towards the center is faster than the speed at which light can radiate out, thus not even light can escape. Thus we have another instance that something is traveling faster than the speed of light.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert on this stuff. But it does give me something to think about. The first step in making new scientific discoveries is questioning the theories and mysteries around us. Maybe someone will read this and start thinking about it and figure out a new theory that explains everything in a nice neat new way. If they do I'd love to hear about it.

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