A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Does the Earth Have a Special Place in the Universe?

Since the days of Nicolaus Copernicus, one philosophical principle has reigned in astronomy-- the earth is a typical sphere in a typical place in our typical universe-- which means that it is not unique from any other part of the galaxy; and any suggestion to the contrary is considered problematic.

But a new study, that is to be published in the Physical Review Letters, suggests that what has been considered problematic over the last 400 plus years may indeed be true.

As the theory goes, the earth may exist inside a cosmic bubble of space-time that is bereft of matter. Currently, it is theorized that hypothetical dark energy best explains the apparent expansion of the universe. But if indeed the earth exists in a bubble-like cosmic void, our observations as we look to the heavens would be skewed by the bubble. Timothy Clifton of Oxford University states, "If we lived in a very large under-density, then the space-time itself wouldn't be accelerating. It would just be that the observations, if interpreted in the usual way, would look like they were."

What does this mean for the Copernican principle? Clifton states further: "This idea that we live in a void would really be a statement that we live in a special place. The regular cosmological model is based on the idea that where we live is a typical place in the universe. This would be a contradiction to the Copernican principle."

Whether or not the cosmic bubble theory turns out to be true, or at the very least, the best explanation of our situation in the cosmos, it certainly demonstrates the philosophical underpinnings of all human pursuit of knowledge.

A preview of the fascinating theory has been posted on Space.com.

1 comment:

Craig L. Adams said...

That's an interesting article, Allan. But, I think, it matters what we mean by the term "special." An object which had a certain uniqueness to it would be "special" in that sense, but maybe only in that sense. On the other hand, our world is bound to be "special" from our perspective since we live in it. It would still be special in that way, even if it weren't in any other.