Good news, bad news: Big Bang smoking gun found; we might be alone

Raise your hand if you thought the big bang looked like this:

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Researchers today announced they’ve discovered the gravitational waves that traveled through space/time shortly after the Big Bang. It’s the first direct evidence of the rapid expansion at the beginning of the universe.

That the waves existed — somewhere, sometime — was predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity, but never proven until now.

Computer models indicate that the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times in .0000000000000000000000000000000001 (10 to the minus-34) seconds after the Big Bang explosion 13.8 billion years ago, Discover.com says.

“The experiment is incredibly impressive,” Lawrence Krauss, a cosmologist at Arizona State University in Phoenix, tells Businessweek. “A signal from the very early universe, from the beginning of time.”

According to Space.com, the proof of rapid expansion carries with it confirmation that the universe is speeding up, moving away from us, and depriving us of the opportunity to discover it and communicate with the rest of it.

Because the universe seems to be expanding at an increasing rate, eventually, observers will not be able to see any other galaxies from Earth or any other spot in the Milky Way. Galaxies are moving away from one another, and the galaxies that are farther away look like they are moving more quickly than ones that are closer.

“We will see distant galaxies moving away from us, but their speed is increasing with time,” Loeb said. “So, if you wait long enough, eventually, a distant galaxy will reach the speed of light. What that means is that even light won’t be able to bridge the gap that’s being opened between that galaxy and us. There’s no way for extraterrestrials on that galaxy to communicate with us, to send any signals that will reach us, once their galaxy is moving faster than light relative to us.”

At some point in the distant future, every galaxy will be farther than what observers can see from Earth. Each galaxy will pass the visible horizon, making it impossible for scientists to observe them.

We’ll be all alone in our own little galaxy.

What’d you do at work today?

  • Alone, that is, until we discover “warp drive”, which (IIRC) is faster than the speed of light? 😉

  • joetron2030

    Amazing.

  • Jim G

    I learned Einstein’s Theory of Relativity precluded any object from going faster than the speed of light. Are they referring to the combined speed of galaxies expanding away from each other? The far-flung galaxies racing away at “x” velocity added to the “y” velocity of our retreating Milky Way?

    Of course, we’ll need to fit these finding into the literal reading of the Biblical Creation Story. The Universe is only 7,000 years old according to 19th century theological thinking..

    • I guess they’re figuring if you’re in a galaxy that’s moving at the speed of limit, and you send a signal out, it can’t go anywhere other than where you just were. That’s the way I read it, anyway.

      • Jim G

        Got it.

    • jon

      Einsteins theory of relativity also said that your speed is relative to some stationary point. While we are not stationary on earth, it makes the math easier to assume that we are.

      If two spaceships were traveling at 3/4th the speed of light in opposite directions they could not communicate because light could not go fast enough to bridge the gap.

      Slowing things down, if I can throw a fastball at 80mph and I’m on a train moving away from you at 40 mph, (in a vacuum, no wind assist, or air resistance) if I throw a ball to you and your traveling the opposite way at 40mph, the ball can never reach you (even if it travels forever without any friction slowing it down) especially if you are speeding up as I throw it.

      To me it appears as though I’m standing still and you are traveling at 80 mph (and speeding up) while to you it would appear that I’m traveling at 80 mph and speeding up…

      • Jim G

        Ok, that’s enough of this Einstein theory stuff. I’m retired and my brain is starting to warp. TOo late there it go

  • jon

    All the other galaxies might be headed off in their own directions, but Gravity is holding each of them together.
    So we should still have something out there… even if it is our own measelly galaxy (300 billion star or so…)

  • Hmm. While this is true generally (that all galaxies are moving away from each other, relative to the Big Bang expansion event), it is not true specifcally for the Milky Way. In about 4 billion years (about 3.59 billion years *before* the Sun expands to the size of a red giant and engulfs the Earth), the Milky Way will collide with our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy. 🙂

    • and? annnnnd? What happens?

      • Phillip

        From what I’ve read random places when galaxies collide either they combine into a bigger one, or they sort of disperse each other… I think there was a picture in “Our Universe” or something like that. Red and blue dots looking more random as the gravity and inertia sort of throw everything around.

        • That’s correct – and it’s unknown whether such gravitational changes would affect a system as small as a solar system – passing close enough to another star could upset planetary orbits and possibly fling some planets out of orbit, creating rogue planets. If you want to see some cool computer projection models of galactic collisions, search YouTube for “galaxy collision simulation”

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    I eagerly await the scientist who comes along and says, “Guys, I’m sorry, but what you’re doing there is all just math and it doesn’t mean a durned thing but that you can do math.”

  • John O.

    Life was so much easier when the universe was the size of a Titleist golf ball. 😉

    • kevinfromminneapolis

      BS. You ever tried to bring reason to a Titleist golf ball?

      • John O.

        One does not “reason” with a Titleist golf ball. You smack it.

  • MrE85

    All we need is Neil deGrasse Tyson’s fancy spaceship from “Cosmos” that breaks all the rules of time, space and matter. And some beer.

    • Jim G

      MrE85, remember the day. We’ll need some Irish whiskey as a chaser.