Trip on this…

February 19, 2010Jake DiMare

I fell asleep the other night mulling something about the universe over in my mind and I need more input. Perhaps by sharing some reader will either be an astrophysicist or know one who can explain. I already tried asking Neil deGrasse Tyson on Facebook (no kidding) but he’s yet to get back to me. Everything I am about to say is based on widely accepted, observable, measurable science…not pseudoscience.

Galaxy M94
Galaxy M94

So, the Universe is widely accepted to be 13.7 Billion light years old. Meaning, since the big bang the Universe has been expanding, at an accelerating rate, for 13.7 Billion years. However, with our current technology the diameter of the observable universe is 93 Billion light years. Because light travels 186,000 miles in a second, when we see something 40 Billion light years away we are seeing something that is 40 Billion light years in the past. The light photons leaving whatever it is we are observing traveled for 40 Billion light years before they passed through our cornea and were transmitted to our brain to wonder about.
Here’s the thing: We can’t see the big bang. We can see things 40 Billion light years in the past but not the big bang…Because it is further away than 40 Billion light years even though it only happened 13.7Billion light years ago. You might be thinking there is something wrong with the math but there isn’t. Einstein’s general theory of relativity stated that nothing can travel faster than light but space can expand faster than light.  And it does.
So here’s my question…Which sounds like a really complicated 4th grade word problem. (If two trains leave the station at…) If our galaxy left the big bang on a local piece of space which is expanding away from that event at a rate which is faster than the speed of light and accelerating, doesn’t that mean our galaxy, solar system and in fact the earth is travelling faster than the speed of light…relative to the big bang? Which means that we on the earth are travelling faster than the speed of light…away from the point of origin in the Universe?
If the answer is yes…knowing what else Relativity says about space and time…how fast is time travelling at the point of origin? (which is standing still relative to us).

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