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What Holds the Universe Together

Updated on July 3, 2012

From Macro to Micro

The Four Fundemental Forces of Nature

So What is it That Holds the Universe Together?

Looking at your hands they seem pretty solid. The chair you are sitting in, the earth underneath you all seem solid. Like in the video to the right as you look closer you will find that is not the case. The universe is a complex system , from super clusters of galaxies to quantum uncertainty.

Well this is a sort of trick question really. Because the truth is nothing is holding the universe (together) in the sense that there is some cosmic glue that is keeping everything from flying apart. You can look at the forces in nature as a guide to understanding the things that we can observe and that are at work in the universe. We can measure these forces effects and it is in these measurements that we can see them working. Lets take a look at these forces.

Gravity, Electromagnetism, Nuclear or Strong Force, Weak or Radioactive Force

  • Nuclear Force - This is the strong nuclear force which holds the nucleas of an atom together.
  • Electromagnetism - This holds the electrons in orbit around the nucleaus of an atom.
  • Radioactive Decay - This is the shedding of isotopes from certain types of elements.
  • Gravity - This is the effect mass has on the medium of space time, as the mass increases the warping effect increases.

So the principles of how the universe works is in these four major forces. But do they hold the universe together? No... Gravity holds larger objects in orbit around each other by mass attraction. But the universe is expanding, it only holds the massive objects in the universe together. Electromagnetism holds together electrons so that atoms can have a charge. This charge is what repels other electromagnetic fields. Without this force we'd all be like ghosts able to pass through walls. Without the nuclear force we'd have no atoms or mass at all! And radioactive decay produces mutation in living organisms and changes the states of certain elements to become new elements.

Each on of these forces has a part to play in how the universe works but our understanding of some is better than our understanding of others. The micro universe of atoms and particles is a strange place where things seem to behave like they don't exist and yet they do exist. They are both potentially there and potentially not there. This is called quantum uncertainty. At the very smallest level of our universe things become... strange. But as you go upwards they tend to behave as we predict they would. But then as we move outward to the very large scale of things again nature throws us for a curve ball when it comes to gravity. Gravity it seems effects matter in the strangest of ways. It warps space time and in the case of black holes it creates a singularity. This is a concept hard to grasp. An area of space time where gravity has taken the ultimate hold and creates an object from which no light, time, or matter can escape. It is transformed into gravitational radiation which is thrown out of the black hole in huges jets light years in size.

So in answer to the question... what holds the universe together? The major forces of nature hold what we perceive as the stuff in the universe together. The universe itself is not holding together though. In fact it is expanding and one day the stars and galaxies we see today will be so far away that the universe as we see it now will be gone from sight all together.

i hope this hub was informative. Thanks for reading.


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    • cheetah786 profile image

      cheetah786 5 years ago

      really informative hub.. thanks for this info..!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I don't know, Insane - perhaps discovering the Higgs-Boson particle will turn us all into Gods!

    • Insane Mundane profile image

      Insane Mundane 5 years ago from Earth

      Hey there, Cow Flipper... Such a name, by the way; it sounds like 'open field' mischief when you first hear it, but I'm sure you have your reasons; ha! Yeah, I'll check that other article out in a few, when I get a little more time.

      @Austinstar: I'm yet to realize what the point of discovering a "so-called" God particle is really about, as well. I need to read more about that subject to understand it better, but I must admit, I read about it a few months ago before the supposed "discovery," and lost interest halfway through, on some science site.

      I mean seriously, what would it do for humanity? [...]

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I think the Higgs-Boson particle may show some interesting signs of "holding" the universe together. I'm still trying to figure out why we care. Obviously, we are here and being held together by one or more somethings.

      Do we want to discover the "glue" and then neutralize it or something? WTF?

    • Cow Flipper profile image

      Sean Jankowski 5 years ago from Southern Oregon

      Nicely written Insane Mundane. You should check out my other hub article.

    • Insane Mundane profile image

      Insane Mundane 5 years ago from Earth

      From small to big, the mind is a universe in itself, and the universe is a manifestation of mind; thoughts create as the universal fabric dictates... The unity holds it together because without one there is none...