From the Blog

Posted by Jake DiMare at 9:49 am

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).

Posted by Jake DiMare at 12:03 pm

The MoonI was really disappointed to learn President Obama cut funds for the Ares and Orion space vehicles and the Constellation program in the recent budget submitted to Congress. If passed this will kill NASA’s plans to send humans back to the moon by 2020.  Selfish as it may be, nothing sparks my imagination better than topics like space, space travel, space colonization, etc, etc, etc.  But my own personal interests aside, I always thought there were very practical reasons to take steps towards space colonization. For instance:

Continuity of the human race – If you take a long view it is a mathematical certainty the earth will eventually suffer a natural disaster which renders it unable to support life. When doomsday comes to pass it would be nice to know humans will have a chance to live on in space.

Economics - There’s gold in them there hills! Well, maybe not gold but there are likely to be materials we need out there. Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, has enough liquid methane on it’s surface to heat every-one’s homes for about 47 billion eons (Or something like that…There’s a lot of useful stuff out there but I am not qualified to provide accurate measurements).

The environment - Apparently the best way to save the earth from people is to move us out.

Solar Power – Harvested in space and beamed to the earth with Microwaves, this technology has the potential to supply 100% of our energy needs with no greenhouse gasses.

Drinking Water – Yup, its running out here on earth. I can almost taste a frosty liter of Ceres Springs now.

Exploration – It’s in our DNA.

In the short term, these programs were going to generate thousands of jobs and revenues for various parts of the country. Hopefully Congress will do something useful for a change and block passage of this aspect of Obama’s budget. With unemployment hovering around 10% I am not sure what the logic is behind cutting spending that creates jobs.


I once heard Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson refer to humans as a speck on a speck on a speck on a speck. Intellectually, I felt like I understood what he meant but, it is still hard to internalize the actual scale of distances in space. This video helps a little:

This probably seems weird but knowing how insignificant we are gives me comfort in some strange way. The sheer magnitude of the universe compared to my individual life puts my selfish, self centered ego in check for at least a moment…making ideas like aging, not getting what I want and death acceptable.