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The Disappearing Universe 358

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-for-my-next-trick dept.
StartsWithABang writes: "If everything began with the Big Bang — from a hot, dense, expanding state — and things have been cooling, spreading out, but slowing down ever since, you might think that means that given enough time (and a powerful enough space ship), we'll eventually be able to reach any other galaxy. But thanks to dark energy, not only is that not the case at all, but most of the galaxies in our Universe are already completely unreachable by us, with more leaving our potential reach all the time. Fascinating, terrifying stuff."
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The Disappearing Universe

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  • by Cardoor (3488091) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:17AM (#47163287)
    one of the allures for me (and i think a lot of people intrigued with cosmology) is how we can interpret the findings as a macrocosm for our own personal microcosm of awareness and being.

    the fact that seemingly inherent in our physical universe is a doctrine of the futility of outward movement (vis a vis reaching a sense of completion or boundary), to me, points to the individual quest for seeking oneself by focusing internally.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:29AM (#47163349)

    one of the allures for me (and i think a lot of people intrigued with cosmology) is how we can interpret the findings as a macrocosm for our own personal microcosm of awareness and being.

    the fact that seemingly inherent in our physical universe is a doctrine of the futility of outward movement (vis a vis reaching a sense of completion or boundary), to me, points to the individual quest for seeking oneself by focusing internally.

    consider as well that as our galaxy redshifts from many possible planets of life we will never gain the knowledge of the inhabitants of those worlds, and by the same logic they could never invade ours.

  • terrifying? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:29AM (#47163353)

    Really, folks, you need to stop being terrified by everything.

  • Not so quick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:33AM (#47163383)

    Physics graduate student here, and I'd just like to bring something into context before any ./ readers begin an existential crisis.

    We don't *KNOW* anything about the dark matter/energy hypothesis yet. They are not well accepted theories like (classical) gravity or electromagnetism, but rather the best answer to questions we don't have any other way of approaching.

    Warning: if you subscribe too heavily to these ideas now, you'll be way, way off base later when science starts finding better answers to the accelerating universe and other open questions. This stuff is great for discussion about philosophy and science fiction, but it is far from well accepted science.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:34AM (#47163389)

    Perhaps he's a trifle more educated than you are?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:41AM (#47163441)
    And yet the author says that galaxies are receding from us at greater than the speed of light. Now maybe he means that in a specific reference frame where we are going one direction at .51 c and another galaxy has an exactly opposite vector at .51 c - but he still says receding from us at greater than the speed of light. So he allows that greater than the speed of light is possible...
  • Re:terrifying? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:43AM (#47163449)

    Seriously. Dark energy is hypothetical.

    Heard it all before. Earth is flat, humans flying is impossible, break the sound barrier and you die, yadda, yadda...

  • Re:Not so quick (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NotDrWho (3543773) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:50AM (#47163487)

    From every description I've heard of "dark energy" it sounds like a kind of place-filler variable for something--as in, "This equation only works if we put in X, but we have no idea what X is."

  • Re:Have some faith (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:51AM (#47163489)

    "I'm thinking wormholes, warp drives, hyper space."
    All of which are are unproven theories. And could be proven to be impracticable (needing an energy the size of a star E stills equals MC^2) or impossible, or dangerous aka destroying the universe.

    It may be the Speed of Light is the Speed limit that we cannot break.

    In a world where Science Fiction is still fiction, and these wormholes, warp drives, and hyper space are meant as plot devices to move your characters into the story conflict of dealing with something alien. You find that these plot devices are made especially for weekly serial TV or movies with Sequels as you want to keep the same characters time and time again.

    Now that said, it doesn't mean we should stop space exploration or trying to break the limits. Even if we could get a fraction of the speed of light say 1/10th the speed of light. We could travel our own solar system as well the sailors of old traveled the oceans. Generational ships can bring us to stars that are within 10 light years of year, and come back to earth without too much diversion of evolution.

    Even without having to jump galaxies there is so much in our little neighborhod that we haven't explored.

    As per Douglas Adams:
    Space is big, I mean really big, you won't believe how mind boggling huge it is. You think it is a far way to the chemist? That is just peanuts to space, listen!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @08:04AM (#47163547)

    It's not really that fascinating or terrifying, though. "Based on our current understanding, we will never be able to reach certain galaxies." Ok, that's cool. We can't even reach another star system within our own galaxy at the moment, so traveling to other galaxies is a bit moot as is. We also know our understanding isn't complete, so it's entirely possible that something we don't know will allow us to travel to those galaxies.

    Seriously, this doesn't feel like news. We've been working at the whole science and technology thing for what...ten thousand years or so? I say give it a million more and see where we are then, instead of cranking out sensationalist doom and gloom articles. Of course, all the doom and gloom articles tell you that we're not going to make it another decade, let alone a hundred thousand decades, so if you really feed into such things, then I'd say your outlook on the universe is far more terrifying than the article at hand.

  • Terrifying (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @08:10AM (#47163581) Homepage Journal
    Odds are pretty high that we will never reach the next star, worrying about the next galaxy is a bit too much
  • by stealth_finger (1809752) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @08:17AM (#47163631)
    The sub-headline is enough "Even at the speed of light, you’ll never reach these galaxies." Say you wanted to go to Andromeda, not the closest galaxy but not exactly far on a galactic scale, At the speed of light that's still going to take 2.5 million years to get there, not really what most people would define as achievable, If we want to reach any other galaxy we're going to have to be going a hell of a lot faster than the speed of light.
  • Re:terrifying? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shadowmist (57488) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @08:37AM (#47163753)

    Seriously. Dark energy is hypothetical.

    Heard it all before. Earth is flat, humans flying is impossible, break the sound barrier and you die, yadda, yadda...

    If you don't understand the difference between a line of uninformed idiots who kept saying "You can't have a rocket in space because there would be nothing to push against", displaying complete ignorance of Newton's laws, and the limits which are the consequence of well-reasoned scientific models such as C being an absolute limit of material acceleration, then you flat out don't understand the difference between a scientific approach and simply drawing limits out of your butt.

Two is not equal to three, even for large values of two.

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