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Space Science

Do We Live In a Giant Cosmic Bubble? 344

Khemisty writes "Earth may be trapped in an abnormal bubble of space-time that is particularly void of matter. Scientists say this condition could account for the apparent acceleration of the universe's expansion, for which dark energy currently is the leading explanation. Until now, there has been no good way to choose between dark energy or the void explanation, but a new study outlines a potential test of the bubble scenario. If we were in an unusually sparse area of the universe, then things could look farther away than they really are and there would be no need to rely on dark energy as an explanation for certain astronomical observations. 'If we lived in a very large under-density, then the space-time itself wouldn't be accelerating,' said researcher Timothy Clifton of Oxford University in England. 'It would just be that the observations, if interpreted in the usual way, would look like they were.'"
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Do We Live In a Giant Cosmic Bubble?

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  • I always wondered... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clonan ( 64380 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:22AM (#25219271)

    If this was why the galaxies appear to rotate to quickly at the edges.

    Would the greater density at the galactic cores cause time to go slower and effect the apparent speed as observed from the exterier of the system?

  • Re:Being special (Score:5, Interesting)

    by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:30AM (#25219455)

    Except if such specialties make our sentient life possible (or much more probable).

  • You mean like... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clonan ( 64380 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:31AM (#25219473)

    a 3 million sun heavy black the one in the center of many galaxies including our own?

  • Re:Being special (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 2names ( 531755 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:34AM (#25219539)
    Density distribution throughout the universe (ours, at least) is relative to the scale at which your measurements are made. Follow me here...

    If you get far enough away from this universe, and I'm talking 'Douglas Adams' far, this universe would appear to be perfectly uniform. However, the closer your observation point becomes, the easier it is to distinguish the clumps, bumps, peaks, valleys, troughs, etc. in the density. At a very close, human-type scale, the density changes are very easy to spot. How dense is the space between the Earth and the Moon as compared to the Earth itself?
  • Re:Occam's Razor? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:38AM (#25219631) Homepage

    My favorite alternative is that we need someone to do to Einstein what Einstein did to Newton; that just like Newton's laws are near-perfect and beautiful at reasonable speeds, maybe there's something that happens at cosmically grand distances, masses, or propagation delays for Gravity that we're going to have to be awfully clever to ever hope to reliably detect.

    Dark Matter and Dark Energy both felt like big hacks to me.

    But, I am by no means a scientist, just an interest layman who hasn't done enough reading.

  • by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:39AM (#25219657)

    I like this theory. My questions are, if our known universe is a bubble/globule of matter floating in a larger void...

    1. Where are the other globules?
    2. What happens if we hit one?
    3. Where did the globules originate?
    4. Is that larger void a super-large globule itself inside a still larger void? If so, see questions 1-4.
  • Re:Being special (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @12:02PM (#25220057) Journal
    You're believing something the opposite of what the premise of the article is. The premise of the article is that we are in a bubble containing a void, not a highly dense space.

    I think we really need to restructure our underlying philosophy of what existence is. I've been chewing on this concept for years:

    This "universe" isn't infinite. It's a 4 dimensional object, with a large but quantifiable amount of mass/energy, and this mass/energy has permutations across x, y, z and t. You see a 3 dimensional object with dimensions x, y, z moving through t, but observed from outside the t dimension, it's a 4 dimensional object.

    The big bang, the singularity, is significant because at the moment that the mass/energy of the universe is in the singular state, it is identical to all the other universes. It is at this point that it "connects" to all the other universes, like petals connecting together to make a flower.

    Questions of religion, spirituality and what it means to be human start getting in your way once you start looking at things this way. Am I an aspect of this object that is my universe, or am I some sort of traveler within this object that is a universe?

    I think there's a good possibility that the missing matter and forces we hypothesize to be acting upon our universe are actually other universes influencing our own, like petals on a flower bumping into each other. And, assuming that we are "souls traveling within the universe" as opposed to "4 dimensional objects that are aspects of the universe", it isn't outside the bounds of reason to imagine that we might one day be able to map the shape of these universes and achieve "time travel" by moving to other universes.

    I expect that we will eventually find the concept of the "infinite universe" to be a false path, and that we will achieve great breakthroughs when we find a framework that doesn't rely upon its existence.
  • Re:Occam's Razor? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @12:08PM (#25220151)

    "My favorite alternative is that we need someone to do to Einstein what Einstein did to Newton; that just like Newton's laws are near-perfect and beautiful at reasonable speeds, maybe there's something that happens at cosmically grand distances, masses, or propagation delays for Gravity that we're going to have to be awfully clever to ever hope to reliably detect."

    Screw that - the reason Einstein needs to go down can be summed up in one word:

    (and not the lameass rock band, either)

  • Re:Bubble? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Praedon ( 707326 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @12:13PM (#25220265) Journal
    Why does the first thing that comes to mind after reading just this headline, make me think of that one episode on Star Trek Voyager, when Voyager got caught in that planets atmosphere/space-time bubble and time on that planet was accelerating at like almost a week for every second on voyager... and then the civilization finally learned space travel and went up to voyager, and learned about all the time acceleration... Kinda screwed up if this is all true. :P
  • Re:Occam's Razor? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @12:14PM (#25220285)
    you realize dark matter is simply the generic term applied to that missing mass we can't account for, not an actual explanation for it?
  • by Keramos ( 1263560 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @12:22PM (#25220445)

    As mentioned in the article:

    One problem with the void idea, though, is that it negates a principle that has reined in astronomy for more than 450 years: namely, that our place in the universe isn't special. ... "This idea that we live in a void would really be a statement that we live in a special place,"

    Hold on a second...

    Current thinking is that 74 percent of the universe could be made up of this exotic dark energy, with another 21 percent being dark matter, and normal matter comprising the remaining 5 percent.

    So, being part of the 5 percent of "normal" matter isn't living in a "special place"?

  • by cjhanson ( 1296897 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @12:41PM (#25220757)
    It amazes me that as a whole our society is ready to jump on board with any theory that seems to help us understand our place in the universe. The Copernicus theorem is, IMHO, the best addition to scientific process. Ever. We are not special.

    As for the content of this story, I mean, come on. I think it is silly that scientist continually feel the need to come up with a "reasons" which bridge the gaps between observable and more importantly, testable and reproducible conclusions. Dark Matter. UH-huh. Oh, no, wait.. wait.. space-time bubble! Yeah, that's it! How about we decide to leave the unknowns as unknowns and instead of spending time and resources coming up with viable possibilities to explain the unknowns, we spend that time discerning the actual, factual answers.

    If we keep coming up with "viable possibilities" then all we are really doing is
    1. Preventing the lemmings from running around in a crazed frenzy
    2. Blurring the path to a better understanding with misleading information

    The heart of my point.. the same thing happening to cosmology happened to the theory of electricity a long time ago.. and now we have generations of people who were taught to understand electricity in way that does not promote it's true nature. Same with light. How about instead of teaching our children something that is inherently wrong, we teach them what we do know, and admit that there are aspects we don't understand. At least then they (we) might have a chance to develop useful mindsets and contribute to respective solutions and explanations rather than taking away from them by filling people's head with misleading information.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:31PM (#25221505)

    Philosophy is just jealous of its little brother science that went on to bigger and better things while philosophy is still trying to shake off post-modernism.

    Science = Planes, trains and automobiles, semiconductors and superconductors, quantum mechanics and nuclear fusion...

    Philosophy = Thousands of years spinning its wheels and still no consensus of what truth is and still dealing with misleading concepts like "qualia".

    I think many philosophers are bitter because they aren't really the center of attention anymore. Philosophers these days seem more interested in pooh-poohing everyone else's lack of subtlety. Unfortunately, after people become so entrenched in technology, questioning the philosophical basis behind such technology seems absurd and reeks of solipsism.

    Btw, I'm still waiting for someone to explain the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing nature.

  • Connecting ideas (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:59PM (#25222011)

    It can sounds weird, but I've already thought about that. From relativity theories and connecting it to the third law of motion, action-reaction, and energy conservation laws.

    Imagine the following: a huge amount of mass and/or energy increases the density of space-time, creating acceleration known to us as gravity. In fact a bend in space-time tissue attracting everything around, like a curved depression in a surface.

    If we think in the conservation of energy in a system (and think the close universe as a closed system), this increase of density at some point should cause a deacrease somewhere, so we keep the total amount of space-time constant for this close system. Think of it as a compensation. Think on this as we strech a bubble gum, some areas get thiker, others thinner, but the total amount of gum is the same.

    As increase of space-time density creates attraction (gravity), a decrease should create repulsion ("anti-gravity").

    Thinking again into the curved depression, close to matter and energy, far from it we should find peaks in the surface, repelling matter.

    In fact, I believe we can find these gravity bubbles surrounding some more gravitational systems, like galaxies, blackholes, and solar systems.

    And more! Think about huge amounts of mass moving, like planets, stars and blackholes. The movement os these bodies would create a space-time wave effect surrounding them, which we could connect to the Doppler effect later, for even more weird effects. We already know about these interference from spinning planets, stars and blackholes.

    Which make thinks even more diffcult, because relatvity should need to be adapted to include these interferences of anty-gravity if they become true, specially for interstelar long distances.

  • by spaceman375 ( 780812 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:01PM (#25222055)
    Depends on where you are. Sciencedaily [] had a story about a year ago (can't find it now; can you?) about some folks involved with WIMP who had found mega-galactic voids and calculated that time ran fast enough inside a really big one that the universe was 18 Billion years old near the middle while it's only 13 and change around here.

    So if time moves faster, how long does it take to cross one? Is it bigger inside than outside?

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:54PM (#25223811) Homepage Journal

    To make even more of an impact, though, try linking to a reputable source.

    By linking to a Wikipedia article, I linked to all the reliable sources that the Wikipedia article cited. Do you complain that they are not reliable sources, or do you claim that the Wikipedia article misrepresents the sources?

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