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Posted by Bobby Kelley/">Bobby Kelley on May 17, 1999 16:44:32 UTC

: I have several questions regarding the Big Bang theroy. : 1) Accepting that the universe is expanding, and the expansion is away from central point of the intial explosion, where was that explosion center located in relation to the Earth, our Sun, and the Milky Way Galaxy? : 2) Are the studies that indicate whether the universe is continuing to expand or not, and if so, where can the results of those studies be found? : 3) If there are varying rates of expansion, what are the most plausible explanantions for those variations? : 4) Much study and effort, i.e. the Hubble Space Telescope, has gone into searching for the "edge" of the universe, but what study as gone into finding the location of the intial mass that exploded?

: Any information on where to find the answers to these questions would be appreciated : : The earliest record of anything, anything at all, was the "Big Bang." : : The "Big Bang" was a cataclysmic explosion. This occurred approximately : : 16 billion years ago.

: : For an incomprehensibly small fraction of a second (10^-35 seconds), : : the universe is an infinitely dense, hot fireball. One millionth second after the : : "Big Bang" the universe continued to expand, just not as quickly. As it : : expanded, it became less dense and cooled (10^-6 seconds). With the : : expansion, came the basic forces of nature. They were gravity, : : electromagnetic forces, and the strong forces that held nuclei together. After : : the first second passed, the universe developed basic particles, like quarks, : : electrons, photons, neutrinos and less familiar types. Three seconds after the : : explosion, protons and neutrons came together to form the nuclei of simple : : elements: hydrogen, helium and lithium. It would take another 300,000 years : : for electrons to be captured into orbits around these nuclei to form stable : : atoms. The first major era in the history of the universe happened 10,000 : : years after the explosion, in which most of the known energy was radiation. : : A few different types of light waves created were X rays, radio waves and : : ultraviolet rays. As the universe expanded, and the light waves were : : stretched and diluted until today. As the waves continued to stretch : : microwaves were formed. At 300,000 years, the energy in matter and the : : energy in radiation were equal, but as the universe continued to expand, the : : energy became less. At about this time, neutral Atoms formed as electrons : : linked up with hydrogen and helium nuclei. The microwave background : : radiation hailed from this moment and thus gives us a direct picture of how : : matter was distributed at this early time. The creation of galaxies occurred : : 300 million years after the "Big Bang". Gravity made small irregularities in : : the density of the primordial gas. Even as the universe continued to expand : : rapidly, pockets of gas became more and more dense. Stars ignited within : : these pockets, and groups of stars become the earliest galaxies. This point is : : between 12 and 15 billion years before today.

: : Five billion years ago our sun was created. The sun was formed within : : a cloud of gas in the spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. (A huge circular : : formation of gas and debris that swirled around this new star gave birth to the : : planets, moons, and asteroids. Approximately 3.8 billion years ago the earth : : cooled and an atmosphere developed. Microscopic living cells, neither plants : : nor animals, begin to evolve and flourish in earth's many volcanic : : environments.

: : In 1917 Einstein and others applied General Relativity to the structure : : and evolution of the universe. The theory called the "Big Bang" was : : formulated in 1922 by the Russian mathematician and meteorologist : : Alexander Friedmann. Friedmann started with Einstein's equations of : : Realitivity. He found a solution to them, in which the universe began in a : : state of extremely density and temperature. It expanded in time, thinning and : : cooling. One of the most stunning successes of the Big Bang theory is the : : prediction that the universe is approximately ten billion years old. This : : approximation was obtained by the rate at which distant gallaxies are flying : : away from each other.

: : According to the "Big Bang" theory the universe may keep expanding : : forever. Its inward gravity is not strong enough to counteract the outward : : expantion, or maybe the universe will reach a maximum point of expansion : : and start collapsing, growing denser and denser, eventually disrupting : : galaxies, stars, planets, people, and eventually even individual atoms. The : : fate of our universe can be determined by measuring the density of matter : : versus the rate of expansion. Much of modern cosmology has been an : : attempt to measure these two numbers with much better accuracy. The : : numbers say that our universe will never stop expanding. It will continue to : : grow thinner and cooler.

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