The expanding universe has been around since the beginning of time but scientists including Stephen Hawking say there’s an urgency about how fast it’s accelerating in size. Some of the questions people are asking are, what is the universe expanding into? What is the shape of the universe and is it staying in the same shape as it expands? Will the universe expand to infinity and disappear? How fast is the speed of expansion?
Size of our Nutshell
To speak about an expanding universe brings to mind a picture of a larger size than it is currently. Is the universe increasing uniformly and keeping the same shape that the universe has now? What is the shape of the universe?
To understand the shape of our Universe let’s first understand the size of the universe. The common answers suggest that the universe is infinite in size and it sure seems that way.
When you see how many galaxies, stars, and planets exist in our observable universe it looks enormous and certainly infinite to us.
But the size is relative to what? To another universe or to another dimension? Take an ant colony and they would think a small island in the Pacific is infinite.
Early people thought Earth was infinite and the center of the universe, however, ask yourself where did the Earth come from?
The best answer is that it came from a Big bang event in less than a fraction of a second. That is amazing but let’s stay focused on the size.
Since the universe is only 13.8 billion years old and it came from a single Big bang event that was a certain size. Therefore, we can’t say that anything in the universe is infinite.
The total amount of energy remains the same even if it changes into stars, black holes, and dark matter. Also, it has a birth so it’s not eternal. It will have an ending as all births do.
In mathematics, numbers can easily run into infinite amounts because we can’t imagine large numbers such as 10^23 particles. We are like ants on an island thinking that everything is infinite.
Consider this, if you could count how many atoms exist in the Earth or the planets you would say there’s an infinite amount. Imagine how many atoms in our galaxy and then in the entire universe.
It doesn’t matter how many atoms exist, the fact is that there is a certain amount and after that, there are no more, namely; it’s not an infinite amount.
In the same way, the universe is not infinite because it’s expanding. An infinite size can’t be bigger than yesterday and again bigger tomorrow.
Cosmologists believe that the universe is one of these possible shapes- open, closed or flat. Let’s examine each one and see what it might look like.
The current belief is that the universe is flat and that it will expand into infinity.
The common description of the Big bang is displayed like a flat timeline where 2 parallel lines stretch into infinity and never meet. As in this Euclidean model.
[Results of the Planck mission released in 2015 show the cosmological curvature parameter, to be 0.000±0.005, consistent with a flat universe]
This model raises a red flag to me because of the infinity description. I realize the current model of the universe looks flat according to the information obtained from (WMAP, BOOMERanG, and Planck).
They confirm that the universe is flat with only a 0.4% margin of error. They did this by measuring the angles and distances to faraway stars and found that the triangle measured exactly 180 degrees.
However, my take on this is suspicious. Remember when they tried to pull the wool over our eyes saying that the Earth was flat? How did that turn out? Apologies to the flat world- people.
This is like a saddle shape with negative curvature. Measuring angles to distant points makes a triangle of less than 180 degrees. Many favor this shape because it allows the universe to expand at an accelerating rate which is what we notice.
The saddle shape is hyperbolic geometry where two points don’t join into a straight line.
This is a positive curvature space like a sphere where a triangle between 3 points adds up to more than 180 degrees.
In this non-euclidean shape, 2 parallel lines will intersect each other. This is the shape of all the stars and planets because the gravitational power will force objects into a sphere.
Space is the container of the universe but it’s a nonphysical thing that allows the motion of matter to move within it.
The problem with the 3 types of shapes outlined above is that they are physical models of a nonphysical substance.
What I mean is that light travels in straight lines unless acted upon by a strong field of gravity.
Doesn’t light travel in straight lines from point A to point B? That means all these 3 shapes will give a value of 180 degrees.
In this drawing below, light travels in straight lines to our telescope. Why would light travel in the shape of the universe instead of straight lines?
Drawing shows that light from distant stars in a sphere shape universe travels in straight lines to our telescope making 180-degree triangles.
Any experiment viewing angles to distant stars will always give 180 degrees making these types of results inconclusive.
New data of the CMB posted on November 04th, 2019 suggests that the universe is a sphere and not flat as believed. https://www.quantamagazine.org/what-shape-is-the-universe-closed-or-flat-20191104/
Finally, some logical evidence that shows the universe is a sphere shape such as I have envisioned.
The incorrect view that scientists have is that they are only thinking of one dimension, namely the 3rd Dimension.
They must think in terms of 4 physical dimensions because a one dimension universe doesn’t make sense.
Dark matter and dark energy are creating a lot of unsolved problems for a one-dimensional universe.
The amount of time, energy and money that has been spent on finding dark matter in the 3rd dimension is phenomenal.
The logical explanation is that dark matter is in another dimension. This is a parallel dimension that allows us to feel the effects of gravity from the other dimension.
Stephen Hawking explained this effect in his book The Universe in a Nutshell at the last few pages from pages 180 to 200.
The matter falls into black holes and emerges into a higher dimension as dark matter.
The new proposal says there is a boundary to the universe and that a possible multiverse universe exists. Finally, the universe would fade into darkness as the stars run out of energy.
Hertog plans to test this by looking for gravitational waves that could have come from the Big bang proving an eternal inflation.
These ideas are a bit similar to my idea of 4 physical dimensions. The big difference is that I explain where dark matter is and how it got there.
Furthermore, my theory doesn’t end in a whimper like Hawking’s but in a Big Bang that sends all the energy back to the source of the Big bang.
Because we are living inside these dimensions we don’t see the movement of energy into other dimensions.
However, our dimension only has about 5% left of the total energy/matter in the universe. The other 95% is dark matter/energy that has moved into higher dimensions.
The theory of inflation has been the best model of the universe so far. The analogy of a balloon is the easiest way to describe inflation.
The balloon analogy of inflation - the expanding universe.
We have all seen a birthday balloon being inflated. At first, the letters are too close together to read until the balloon expands, then the letters move apart from each other and we see it says happy birthday.
Now imagine that as it continues to expand it moves into another level, another dimension. It becomes another larger balloon that keeps on growing bigger.
You can think of it as eternal inflation like Hawking and Hertog are suggesting.
This is a composite view of 4 physical balloon-shaped dimensions expanding larger.
Each balloon dimension expands into the next larger balloon until all the matter and energy are in the 6th dimension.
The parallel antimatter dimension also expands to the 6th dimension where some kind of quantum fluctuation happens.
The dimensions annihilate each other sending all the energy back to the source where it came from. The law of conservation of energy is fulfilled at the final moment.
The energy flow of matter and antimatter from the Big bang to a final Big bang.
The size of the universe is finite and about 13.8 billion years old. So, nothing is infinite inside the universe.
The shape of our nutshell universe is a sphere that is expanding into a larger sphere.
The large nutshell contains 4 physical dimensions that are separated by a membrane, just like Stephen Hawking describes in his book The Universe in a Nutshell.
The balloon analogy describes the action of inflation.
The universe ends in a Big bang when the antimatter dimension and normal matter meet in the 6th dimension.
This allows all the energy to go back to the source where another universe can start again.
About the author
Erik Lovin studied physics at university and has published several books. He is exploring the universe and is writing about cosmology in a way that it makes sense to a lay person.
Erik has a BSc degree and is a retired professional photographer who is now a published Author of many books. His passion is understanding how life and the universe works. He is currently blogging about the science of the Big Bang and the science of cosmology. Erik is helping his tribe with questions about the universe. His goal is to help find a theory of everything (TOE). In order to do that, he is trying to prove light has mass and that the fabric of spacetime is a false theory. We are welcoming questions and answers that you might have about the universe.