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Universe as we know it

Srishti Bisht

Space has always rattled me. With space being a place that we can only see and feel its vastness, it does make me curious to know more.

My general idea of space and universe was fueled by what I read in the science book, saw in movies and even romantic novels.

Though my general interest was piqued when I came across this documentary where they showed the universe for what it really was: an unknown, endless place with infinite possibilities and secrets that are yet to be discovered and the lifetime of the whole human race might not be enough to find them.

But not knowing is a pain that we cannot live with and genuinely seeking for answers to quench our thirst we as a race stared into the space.

Here are some facts and theories and even celestial bodies that we have come to know about by gazing back at the universe.

  1. The Universe is expanding

Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer made this observation in 1925.

Since the big bang theory, the universe has been growing with all galaxies and stars moving away from each other.

Hubble proved that there is a direct connection between the speed of distant galaxies and their distances from earth. This is called the Hubble’s law.

Universe encompasses everything and is considered infinite in its nature without an edge and thus forever going.

  1. Entropy and heat death

The second law of thermodynamics is what curtails the law of entropy.

Entropy is a measure of disorder in a closed system. The first law of thermodynamics state that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. But energy does get transformed from one form to another for example: chemical to heat or electrical to mechanical.

The law states that the entropy of an isolated system that is not in equilibrium will increase as time progresses until equilibrium is finally achieved.

What this state is that, entropy in a system will only increase. Even if we do work to bring order to the system, we still increase disorder as a by-product.

Now, universe is considered finite and thus it becomes a closed system which means the 2nd law applies to the universe. Well then like all isolated systems, universe will also try to achieve equilibrium with a constant energy and will end up in a useless heap of equilibrium through which no energy can be extracted, i.e. heat death. Though not everyone agrees with this theory, does not mean can’t happen.

  1. Pillars of creation

Pillars of creation is one of the most fascinating photos taken by the Hubble telescope. It is a photo of elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula that is located around 6000-7000 light years away from earth.

They were named the pillars of creation as they are in the process of creating new stars, while also being eroded by the light from nearby stars that have recently formed.

Hubble’s photo of the pillars consists of 32 different images that aptly captures the beauty of the pillars.

  1. Wormhole

Wormholes, sadly a reality in many science fiction stories for time travel is just a theory in real life.

Though it’s a fascinating way of thinking but was considered impractical and unstable for any kind of traveling.

For those who don’t know, wormholes are solutions to Einstein’s field equation for gravity that act as a tunnel to connect two points in space-time in such a way that it takes less time than when traveled in a normal space.

Thus, they were considered a way to connect to past but was soon said to be too unpractical due to its nature of un stability.

  1. Black holes

The most fascinating and maybe the most discussed aspect of our universe.

Black holes are extremely powerful and they suck everything inside them. According to general theory of relativity, it is the result of curving the spacetime due to a huge mass.

Black hole is so dark because light cannot escape it either. Because there is no light, we can’t see black holes. To identify blackholes, scientists study the stars around them as strong gravity affects the stars and gas around the black hole. Scientists can study stars to find out if they are flying around, or orbiting, a black hole.

Black holes are created when centre of very big star fall upon itself or collapses. When this happens, it causes a supernova.

As a kid I used to always imagine it as this hole that is just floating around until I saw interstellar and came to know that it literally looks like a very dark planet with really beautiful light surrounding it that we cannot actually see.

I find space fascinating and even though I have mentioned only five theories and facts here, there are so many more things to read and understand, to explore and to learn. Its so weird to know that we live with a wide mystery right above our heads and look at it with absolutely no understanding of it.

While I am the least favorable person who actually knows a thing or two, nor does have the intelligence to understand the universe but I read this statement by Christa McAuliffe and it said:

Space is for everybody. Its not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That’s our new frontier out there, and its everybody’s business to know about space.

So, I made a deal with myself to understand it as much as I can.

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