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- Astronomy & Space Exploration
Even as you are reading this sentence, the Universe has expanded. We are on a super-stretchy substance of matter that grows wider, but for how long? The commonplace theory among cosmologists is that of the Big Bang. At some point, over 13.8 billion years ago (our closest estimate), matter exploded out from a single point of ultra condensed matter. From this aftermath of the Big Bang and the superheated plasma it spawned, the mass started to cool. Once it cooled particles began to form, subsequently colliding into atoms. Collision of the atoms resulted in the formation of stars, planets, galaxies, all the matter common to our star gazing endeavours in the Universe.
WMAP and it's imaging of the Cosmic Microwave Background have shown information as far back as 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Although what came before this still resides largely in the realms of speculation. The fate of the Universe is still largely guesswork also. There are two overriding theories.
1. Big Bang/Crunch Model: Postulates that the universe and all it's constituent matter will expand outwards, until gravity exerts an overwhelming retracting effect on matter. This will cause the universe's expansion to halt, then to run in reverse, until a Big Bang singularity state is achieved once more and the same process is repeated, eternally.
2. Constant Expansion/Heat Death Model: This is the theory that the rate of expansion outsteps the inexorable pull of gravity on space/time. Over time, this continued expansion will result in a lack of strength in the 4 forces to form matter as it is pushed too far apart and the temperature of space falls ever lower. All stars will eventually cease to shine and the universe will be a moribund mass, a void littered with the stellar skeletons that are White Dwarf stars, punctuating nothingness.
Thankfully, such devastating instances lie billions of years in the future. So it is nothing we need to bother or concern ourselves with, other than finding the correct theory of existence of course.
A curious mind grows ever closer to myriad conclusions. Why are there these theories to begin with? Where did it start from? What existed before this Universe? What is this Universe expanding into? Are we the only Universe? There is only one place to start. The reason that we exist, the reason all of the forces are in such a harmonious balance that we scarcely notice their constant, frenetic action? Is inevitably the event that started it all... the Big Bang. To Be Continued ...
© Brad James, 2014.