Is the Universe Truly Infinite?
When you look up on a dark night and see the uncountable stars scattered throughout the skies, it's easy to think of the universe as infinite. Or maybe you see those illuminations as similar to the glow-in-the-dark stars on your bedrooms ceiling, just pretty decorations to behold, a high but dead-end ceiling. Either way, science can't really tell us yet whether the universe is infinite or finite.
As with everything else, researchers do have theories. After analyzing maps generated by observations made with the Baryon Oscillation Spectrographic Survey (BOSS), a super-powerful telescope in New Mexico, one group determined that the universe has an exceedingly flat floorplan. The survey was based on observations of "only" 1.2 million galaxies, which is a drop in the universal bucket, but it's a strong clue that our universe isn't sphere shaped.
So is that flatness infinite? It's impossible to say. One reigning thought is that the Big Bang is causing the universe to constantly expand faster than the speed of light. Because we can't see beyond the speed of light, we'll never really know if there's an edge to the universe.
We'll likely have to spend our lives wondering about the true nature of the universe's size. It's a mystery, like so many others, that's overflowing with a captivating allure that draws our minds but never offers any real answers.
Whether you're struggling with how big the universe might be or how life originated on Earth, our existence is brimming with bizarre twists of nature that we can't explain and may never understand. Those questions may trouble us and hound us for our entire lives – but they are also an essential part of the human experience.
Author's Note: 10 Questions That Science Can't Answer Yet
It's easy for modern people to look back on their ancestors with more than a little disdain. Living in caves, really? Where's your dignity, ape men? But most of us understand that 100 years from now, our grandchildren will look back at us with the same kind of mild sympathy, thinking of us as primitive and unknowing. The evolution of human science and knowledge has that kind of effect. So maybe in 20 or 50 years, this list of unanswered questions will seem quaint and naïve. It's more likely, though, that at least some these questions are going to stand the test of time.
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