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Space Science

Australian Study Backs Major Assumption of Cosmology 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you've-seen-250-million-light-years-of-it-you've-seen-it-all dept.
cylonlover writes "In mankind's attempts to gain some understanding of this marvelous place in which we live, we have slowly come to accept some principles to help guide our search. One such principle is that the Universe, on a large enough scale, is homogeneous, meaning that one part looks pretty much like another. Recent studies by a group of Australian researchers have established that, on sizes greater than about 250 million light years (Mly), the Universe is indeed statistically homogeneous, thereby reinforcing this cosmological principle."
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Australian Study Backs Major Assumption of Cosmology

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  • by tverbeek (457094) on Monday September 17, 2012 @12:44PM (#41364027) Homepage

    Once you've seen one suburban shopping mall, you've seen them all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >Once you've seen one suburban shopping mall, you've seen them all.

      "If you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall."

  • Down under (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday September 17, 2012 @12:45PM (#41364041) Journal

    So the laws of physics still hold in Australia at least.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Then how come they've not fallen off? They're upside down after all.
      • by JustOK (667959) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:24PM (#41364459) Journal

        Gravity works backwards down there too, so it pulls them up, which is down.

      • Hold up a ball. Which side points to the earth? What happens when you drop it? Will it always fall towards the earth? Now, go to Australia. Which side of the ball faces the earth? What happens when you drop it? If you drop the ball, will it fall towards the earth? If so, that's why they haven't fallen off. Now of course, move a larger-than-earth, as-dense-as-earth object near the Earth on the side of Australia and your answer will differ. Of course, the Earth is more likely to be destroyed by gravitational
        • by wermske (1781984) *
          [mumbles something about a house falling on grumpy bear] ... gravity!
        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Hold up a ball. Which side points to the earth? What happens when you drop it? Will it always fall towards the earth? Now, go to Australia. Which side of the ball faces the earth? What happens when you drop it? If you drop the ball, will it fall towards the earth? If so, that's why they haven't fallen off.

          Really?

          You should really get some sort of Nobel prize for finally solving that particular puzzle.

      • by meglon (1001833)
        Magic fairy dust.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday September 17, 2012 @12:47PM (#41364059)

    Well, except for San Bernardino.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If anyone is trying to visualize that scale, it might be more convenient to consider that 250 million light years is simply 4.70279985 × 10^23 rods

  • by macbeth66 (204889) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:07PM (#41364271)

    A good foundation will cover those blemishes and make the subsequent layers easier to apply.

  • by cb123 (1530513) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:22PM (#41364427)
    Most comments seem to be vying for most funny, but if you do happen to care about visualizing the scale, the distance to our closest full-sized galactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.5 Mly. That is 1% of the homogeneity scale cited by the article. So, they are saying that things seem smooth averaged over scales merely 100 times bigger than the distance to the nearest extra-galactic clump which is sized comparably to The Milky Way. That's actually pretty smooth, in context.
  • by kisrael (134664) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:22PM (#41364439) Homepage

    So, isn't there a concept that the Universe is closed, and we're just seeing older versions of the same stuff, but kinda repeated? (but hard to recognize because of the time lag involved)

    Is this still considered a possibility, or have they figured out a way of ruling that out?

  • by snarfies (115214) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:36PM (#41364635) Homepage

    None. Although you might see people from time to time, they are most likely products of your imagination. Simple mathematics tells us that the population of the Universe must be zero. Why? Well given that the volume of the universe is infinite there must be an infinite number of worlds. But not all of them are populated; therefore only a finite number are. Any finite number divided by infinity is as close to zero as makes no odds, therefore we can round the average population of the Universe to zero, and so the total population must be zero.

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      If you assume the universe is infinite than an infinite number of worlds are populated..
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday September 17, 2012 @01:38PM (#41364649)

    ...but is it pasteurized?

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      In fact it's been ultra-super-duper-insanely pasteurized, though what with it been sitting around for a few billion years since then I think life may have crept in.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      ...but is it pasteurized?

      I shall continue to milk this joke-line until the cows come home, or until everyone grows sour to it and they start carton us away.

  • Can this tell us something about the shape of space? The fabric of space could form a loop such as a sphere. Think of the arcade game Asteroids. I have wondered if the Hubble deep field images are something like a self portrait photo shot in a very large house of mirrors. The loop is so big, in fact, that we are seeing our own galaxy and all others repeated at intervals of time in the past. The minimum homogeneous volume would also place a lower limit on the size of the loop.
    • by lgw (121541)

      We know that's not the case from the cosmic background microwave radiation surveys. Repeated patterns would had really stood out statisically, but that's not what we see.

  • How far out around us have we really seen/studied? 250 Mly seems a large area.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2012 @02:46PM (#41365549)

    Until the Billion light-year across VOID is explained, this article makes no sense! http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12546-biggest-void-in-space-is-1-billion-light-years-across.html

    • by Sabriel (134364)

      Dear AC, the fact that with an infinite number of coin tosses you should tend to average tails half the time? It in no way prevents you from rolling heads several times in a row - or a billion times, for that matter.

      The gizmag article is about statistical homogeneity while the newscientist article is about an empirical anomaly. The two are quite compatible in that respect.

      It should also be mentioned that the fine article mentions the study is ongoing and has only mapped less than 1% of the observable univer

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday September 17, 2012 @03:13PM (#41365827)
    It's still an assumption. If the universe is infinite, then this observation says nothing about the non-observable universe. Any statements about the non-observable portions are purely assumptions.
    • by bentcd (690786)

      If the universe is infinite, then this observation says nothing about the non-observable universe. Any statements about the non-observable portions are purely assumptions.

      Of course, the thing about the non-observable universe is that as far as we care it might as well not exist.

  • I used to spend quite a lot of time worrying that I'd go 250 million light years north and it would be quite different. Now that I know this I'm much happier to go.
  • Immediately moves to ban all Australians from reading about this subversive cosmology business....

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