Essay 2 10/14/03  Physics, Cosmology,

Cosmic Centrality:

Light travels at about 186,000 miles per second and according to Einstein's Special
Relativity no material object can travel faster than this speed.

It takes 8 minutes and 17 seconds for light to travel from the Sun's surface to the Earth.
Therefore, when we look at the Sun, in a way we are looking into the past.  When we look at
other stars in the sky we are looking hundreds of thousands, millions, or billions of years into
the past depending on which stars we view (remember that the universe is about 14 billion
years old). Edwin Hubble helped us understand that the furthest stars that we are able to
see with the aid of telescopes are so old that they are just forming after the event of the big
bang. Look in any direction of the sky with a sufficiently high powered telescope and you can
see these primordial stars.

Yet the idea that we can look in any direction in the night sky and see evidence of the big
bang is confusing. How could a single event have happened in different locations all over the
night sky?  Science explains that even though all the matter in our universe exploded out of
a single point, we can not look in any one direction and hope to see that point.  -Because
our universe is infinite in size there is no center. Well... there is no single, defined center.

Even before the advances that helped erect modern cosmological theory, scientists
understood that there is no one midpoint on a number line that extends infinitely. In fact,
mathematics tells us that in an infinite series of numbers every point (or number) is located
in the theoretical center. Therefore, the space that your physical body takes up is just as
easily the center of the universe as any other point.  

At times when I feel insignificant compared to some of the astronomical concepts and
numbers that we come across in astronomy, this is a bit of a consolation.

Big Bang Theory: noun
A cosmological theory that postulates that a cosmic explosion marked the origin of the

Primordial: adj.
Being or happening first in sequence of time; original. Primary or fundamental
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