38 votes

How do we know the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe?

Let's start in the middle: What is the furthest radius we can prove from earth, with absolute certaintity, that the laws of physics do not vary? Zero. Proofs are found in mathematics and court ...
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38 votes
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Why didn't the Big Bang produce heavier elements?

I think that your thought process is flawed in that you assume that by drastically increasing the temperature you are guaranteed to get heavy elements. As odd as this may sound, this isn't the case (...
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  • 14.4k
34 votes
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Is the universe considered to be flat?

I think the reason you're suffering from conflicting sources is that you're mixing both new and old, out-of-date pieces of information. First off, the book you cited was published in 2001 - 15 years ...
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  • 14.4k
27 votes
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Does the recent news of "ten times more galaxies" imply that there is correspondingly less dark matter?

All Conselice et al. (2016) appear to suggest is that when you look at something like the Hubble deep field, there are many faint (and presumably low mass) galaxies that are not seen. This has ...
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  • 114k
25 votes
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Why was the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) released at a blackbody temperature of 3000K rather than 30,000K?

The CMB is produced as the ionisation fraction of hydrogen falls from a high value to a very small value. Contrary to what is written in the Quora answer you may have been misled by, this happens at a ...
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  • 114k
25 votes

Is there physical evidence to distinguish between the expansion of space and an anthropocentric universe?

I'm looking for some kind of observable evidence (that has been observed, or could be observed in the future) that could falsify one or the other theory. You seem to be requiring one (very high) ...
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23 votes

How does the evolution of a solar system not break the second law of thermodynamics?

The total entropy actually increases, as the molecular cloud shrinks under gravity. It may seem that as the molecules are getting closer, they are more ordered, which means less entropy. That is ...
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  • 468
23 votes
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How do we know the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe?

Nothing can be proved "with absolute certainty"; that is not how science works. We adopt a working hypothesis that the constants of nature are exactly that; both constant in time and space. Then we ...
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  • 114k
22 votes

Does the universe have a celestial north?

No. There is no prefered direction of the universe. The universe is homogenous and isotropic, on the large scale, to the best of our knowledge. This means that there is no "special" ...
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  • 87.6k
21 votes
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When will the number of stars be a maximum?

TL; DR Somewhere between now and a few hundred billion years time. (For a co-moving volume) Now read on. If stellar remnants are included, then the answer is very far in the future indeed, if and ...
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  • 114k
19 votes
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what is a Friedmann model?

The "Friedmann model" is a model of the Universe governed by the Friedmann equations, which describes how the Universe expands or contracts. These equations are a solution to Einstein's field ...
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  • 31.9k
19 votes

Why isn't the CMB blurred by the blackbodies emitted in the time after atoms first formed?

It is. They're called galaxies and stars and we see them against the cosmic microwave background. However, they aren't (all) cooling because of the energy sources they contain. But perhaps that isn't ...
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  • 114k
17 votes
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Why do people choose 0.2 as the value of linking length in the friends-of-friends algorithm?

The friends-of-friends (FOF) algorithm (Huchra & Geller 1982; Press & Davis 1982, Davis et al. 1985) for finding groups of particles can be used for various numerical problems, not just ...
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  • 31.9k
16 votes

How can gravitational lensing makes a quasar appear brighter?

The quasar gives out light in all directions. The light spreads out in space. Only a very small amount of that light would be pointed exactly in the direction of your telescope. But if a large galaxy ...
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  • 87.6k
16 votes
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How is the Hubble constant determined from gravitational waves?

If you measure the gravitational waveform from an inspiralling binary, you can at any point measure the amplitude, instantaneous frequency and the rate of change of frequency. The last two give you ...
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  • 114k
15 votes
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Which came first: Galaxies <=> Stars <=> Planets?

The structure we see in the Universe has formed from the gravitational collapse of the matter that was once an almost smooth density field of gas ("baryons") and dark matter$^1$. The word &...
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15 votes
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Latest cosmological parameters

Cosmological parameters are measured in a variety of ways, and their values will depend on which measurements you trust the most. The paper you link to (Planck Collaboration et al. 2016) with the 2015 ...
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  • 31.9k
15 votes
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Why do we continue to find a discrepancy in the Hubble Constant?

To make a long story short, the measurements from Planck and the Hubble Space Telescope disagree, and the reason behind this isn't known. First, let's look at the values with the uncertainties. We ...
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  • 33.7k
15 votes
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A Sky Map of Gravity - what would it look like?

The rough answer is: just like the sun makes it hard or impossible to see planets and stars during the day, it dominates the gravity sky. But there are interesting patterns there if we view the sky ...
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15 votes

Why did astronomers believe most or all stellar black holes had masses no greater than 15 solar masses?

The so-called 'mass gaps' for black holes, according to theoretical models, are between 2-5 solar masses and 50 to 150 solar masses. (Actually, I have read that there is no good theoretical reason for ...
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15 votes
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What happened to the reemitted photons during recombination?

There should indeed be emission lines at the appropriately redshifted frequencies. However, they are going to be incredibly faint and diluted because the ratio of photons to baryons at the epoch of ...
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  • 114k
14 votes

Why do we see a cosmological redshift at all if space is not expanded in our solar system?

tl;dr Because space doesn't contract inside our Solar System. Wavelength increase is proportional to space expansion The prediction of general relativity — one of the most thoroughly tested and ...
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  • 31.9k
13 votes
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Is the Universe really expanding at an increasing rate?

I don't take this at face value because we should expect more distant objects to have higher observed speeds and therefore higher observed red-shifts. That's true. That was the original Hubble ...
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  • 22.9k
13 votes

Existence of gravitons?

Gravity is a fictitious force, actually, much like centrifugal force. In a free falling frame of reference it disappears. In general relativity (GR) gravity is just a result of (differential) ...
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13 votes

Could there really be a preferential direction to the speed of light?

Prior to Einstein's 1905 paper, the Lorentz transformation had already been worked out by Lorentz and others. Only their interpretation of it was lacking. They still clung to the idea that there was a ...
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  • 2,065
12 votes
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Are there ways to estimate size of the "whole universe"?

tl; dr The universe is probably infinite, but if that's the case it's impossible to verify. If the universe is finite, and small enough, and the global curvature is equal to the curvature of our ...
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  • 8,862
12 votes

Does a merging massive binary black hole ‘emits’ more than one gravitational wave?

We can currently only detect gravitational radiation when it is extremely intense: in the last fraction of a second. For example the first gravitational wave detection lasted less 0.15 seconds. The ...
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  • 87.6k
11 votes

Is there anything like a supermassive white hole? How are they formed? And where are they present?

White holes are a theoretical construction of General Relativity. Despite extensive searches, nothing has been found: not a supermassive white hole, not a stellar-sized white hole, nothing. Thus, the ...
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  • 3,082
11 votes

Is the universe considered to be flat?

The basic assumptions of the cosmological principle mean that space can only have constant scalar curvature. This can be positive, negative or zero and a flat Universe is one where the curvature is ...
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