Thursday, February 28, 2008

It All Started Right * Here

Yup, right where that asterisk is. But tiny, tiny, tiny. Smaller than an atom; the size of a sub-atomic particle. “It” refers to the universe, everything in creation: the 300 billion galaxies we know of, with their hundreds of billions of stars and who knows how many planets. All the heavy metals that make up those planets. All that was, is and will be came from a sub-atomic particle that has been described as infinitely dense and infinitely hot.

One fine day, it blew up. That was 13 billion, 700 million years ago. If you want to hear the explosion, tune your FM radio to an unused channel and listen to the hiss. That’s the explosion, 13.7 billion years later, now in the radio range.

A lot of people, probably nearly all of them in the astronomy field, would love to know exactly where that heavy, hot particle was when it blew. It was, of course, nowhere; there wasn’t anywhere in those days. But when it blew, it created “where” in rather short order. We’d like to know if we can find the middle of “where,” generally described as the middle of the universe.

All the galaxies are rushing away from us; are we at the center? Or are all galaxies rushing away from each other, each thinking they are the center? Suppose you are on a really ancient galaxy out near the edge … do you see nothing before you and everything behind you, thus giving you a hint that maybe you are at the head of the line? Or is there some remnant of that initial ultra-violent blast we may someday find? Will it be God, as a kid, with a chemistry set saying, “Oops”?


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