I can see my house from here
March 3, 2003 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation gives a map of the curiously unsymmetrical early universe.
posted by Pretty_Generic (12 comments total)
Any experts out there to tell us what this means to them?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:41 AM on March 3, 2003

I am no expert, but I think I saw a jar full of the universe replicas the other day. They call them jawbreakers here.
posted by riffola at 9:43 AM on March 3, 2003

Sadly not Ever-Lasting though. That's the second law of thermodynamics for ya.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:45 AM on March 3, 2003

that blue spot looks like Europe.
posted by goethean at 9:49 AM on March 3, 2003

also discussed here (though with different links
posted by boltman at 9:54 AM on March 3, 2003

that discussion doesn't mention this detail, as far as i can see.

imagine an explosion - a great big firey ball that expands. eventually it cools + stuff so you don't see a big firey ball any more. the microwave background is the big firey ball from the big bang, just before it "cooled off". we're looking way back in time (and distance) to see it. you'd expect it to be almost uniform, because everything started off very small and very hot, so it was all mixed up pretty nicely.

the spherical harmonic stuff is kind of like fourier transforms, but spherical, if that helps anyone - so you can describe any distribution on a sphere in terms of different components of increasing (spatial) frequency. so their discovery is like tuning into the noise between radio stations, and instead of the usual hiss, hearing a certain note.... (only prettier)
posted by andrew cooke at 10:06 AM on March 3, 2003

Here's the official page for NASA's WMAP mission, which gave us all these great CMB maps. The probe basically returned (much) higher resolution maps similar to COBE. Perhaps the coolest thing to come out of the WMAP mission is that we now 'know' our universe to be 13.7 Gyr old, +or- .2Gyr. yow.
posted by armheadarmlegleg at 10:09 AM on March 3, 2003

I'm 1.4 nanouniverses old.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:13 AM on March 3, 2003

I love Nonuniform Big Bang evidence like this. The pertubations are, evoluationarily speaking, the only reason we are here at all, instead of being a completely uniform distribution of matter and energy.

It's like the Fingerprint of God. Or, more precisely, the Big Blender of God.
posted by timbley at 11:39 AM on March 3, 2003

Or the Indeterminancy Principle of Gof
posted by signal at 12:01 PM on March 3, 2003

The MAP probe that took these is in one of the Lagrange Points: "Five special points in the vicinity of two orbiting masses where a third, smaller mass can orbit at a fixed distance from the larger masses... Three of them lie along the line connecting the two large masses".
The MAP is in the point "behind" the earth away from the sun (L2). The point between the earth and the sun (L1) is home to SOHO, a satellite for solar observations (that recently cought the NETA comet passing by the sun).
There are plans to put the Next Generation Space Telescope an L1 in 2010.
"The L3 point remains hidden behind the Sun at all times. The idea of a hidden "Planet-X" at the L3 point has been a popular topic in science fiction writing".
posted by golo at 2:06 PM on March 3, 2003

of coarse it's not going to be uniform...

It's because an atom or two were out of place early on that we even exist...

Plus... think about it... I can look in any direction and be looking at the center of the universe...

spread out that much, we are sure to see more detail as we look farther...
posted by LoopSouth at 2:31 PM on March 3, 2003

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