Part 1: Wherever We Look, The Universe Is Expanding Away From Us
Does this mean that we are at the center of the universe? You’d think it would, since if everything is moving away from us, and nothing is moving towards us, that circumstance could surely only arise if we were at the center.
Sometimes when trying to understand something complicated it helps to reduce the levels of complexity and work with a much simpler set of circumstances in order to gain an understanding of the underlying principles.
So let’s not try to think of how this would work in the three dimensional universe, and simplify the problem by reducing the universe to being just one dimension. What would such a universe look like? It’s a line:
– and it’s stretching out in both directions at once (the expansion of the universe).
So let’s stick a few galaxies into this one dimensional universe – the easiest way to represent them is as dots on the line:
That blue-green blob is where we are in our Milky Way, somewhere along this one dimensional universe. Look at what happens when the universe expands some more (i.e., when time passes):
Notice how the distance between each galaxy has increased. If you were an observer sitting somewhere in that blue-green blob, both of the galaxies sitting either side of you would appear to have moved away from you.
In fact, all of the blobs would appear to have moved away from you, no matter in which direction you looked (bearing in mind you can only look in two directions in this version of the universe), and no matter in which blob you were sitting.
Now, a one dimensional universe is difficult to relate to. Two dimensional is a bit closer to reality. So let’s redo our model.
Above we have a two dimensional version of our universe, with the galaxies distributed sort-of randomly throughout it. What happens when the universe continues to expand?
Hopefully you can see that all of the galaxies appear to have moved away from each other. No matter which galaxy you sit on, all of the others that you can see appear to have moved away from you (and from each other).
Also, hopefully, you can imagine that for the case of the three dimensional universe (which would appear as a cube in this scenario, just for simplicity), the same principle would hold true:
It’s much harder to convey the depth of a three dimensional universe in this medium, but hopefully the limited visual effects here will enable you to imagine that some of the galaxy blobs are nearer and some are farther away. When the expansion continues, again the objects appear to move apart from each other in all directions:
This is of course only true in terms of galaxies. Our solar system is not moving away from our galaxy (the Milky Way), just as the Earth is not moving away from the Sun.
Gravity is holding us all together; that much seems to be true. But gravity has only a limited reach, and once you get far enough away from our galaxy, it becomes apparent that other galaxies are moving away from us in all directions.
What’s more, the speed with which they’re moving away is increasing all the time – they’re not just moving away from us, they’re accelerating away from us, and whoever has their foot on the accelerator, they don’t seem to be too keen to ease off any time soon.
As it happens, we now think we know the reason why this acceleration is happening, and that will be the subject for Part 2, along with the reason why I think there must be a fourth physical dimension to explain Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance”.
Part 3 will look at how two-dimensional Time could resolve the so-called “Grandfather Paradox”, and why we will probably never be able to travel into the Future until someone in the Future comes back to pick us up…
 It’s accepted that the universe consists of something called “space-time”, which is the usual familiar three dimensions of space coupled to the single dimension of Time. However, I have a strong suspicion that Time is not just one dimensional but two, and I’m pretty certain there’s another dimension of space, making 4+2=6 dimensions in all. At a minimum. Some of the (i.e., my) reasoning behind that will be presented in the next posts.
And crackpot though this idea may seem, mine is not an original idea – not by a long chalk. There are those who have taken the basic concepts and extended them considerably, even representing them in a form of mathematics that is quite beyond me (at the moment).
Check out the work of Itzhak Bars at UCLA. There are articles here and there on the ‘Net, too: