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How I think the universe works How I think the universe works
by Joseph Gatt
2020-08-13 11:04:53
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How I would explain the solar system, the moons, the formation of stars, and the universe as we know it for a 5 year old kid, or to my sisters, or to my grandparents, using simple language.

-Why does the Earth and other planets orbit the sun?

Let's do away with complex language. If we light a camp fire, that camp fire is going to produce smoke. If we light a huge camp fire, that smoke that results from the camp fire is going to have smoke in the form of powerful “windy” energy (let's call it that). So if the “wind” produced by the fire is powerful enough, it could make a rock float over it.

univ_400Now let's imagine there's a fire in the middle of the sky. Couldn't really happen on Earth because of gravity, since the fire would fall to the ground, or needs to be held up by some object.

But let's imagine there's a huge fire in the sky. The smoke produced by the fire would go East, West, North, South, and that smoke could produce enough energy to have rocks orbiting it. The smoke is a form of wind that keeps pushing those rocks in some direction.

The sun kind of works the same. The “wind” the sun produces pushes our planet and quite a few other planets (officially 8 big ones, but quite a few “minor ones”) to revolve around it in circular motion.

-Why does the Moon orbit the Earth?

Now if you throw a stone in the air (or in the horizon) the stone that you throw is going to produce collateral wind. So if there's dust that was around the corner, that collateral wind will push the stone or rock in the same direction as the stone.

When our planet, pushed around by the sun's “wind” is being pushes around, the earth itself produces “wind” (it's actually energy but I use the word “wind” so you can picture the whole thing better), and the moon is revolving around the Earth as a collateral of that “wind.”

-How do stars, rocks, planets, comets, asteroids, and other celestial objects form?

If you take two stones or two pieces of wood and rub them together long enough, they will cause a fire.

No one is quite sure how things work in the universe. What we know is that the universe is made of particles (or atoms), that is tiny objects, millions of time smaller than a speck of dust, that interact with each other through laws.

There are hundreds of different types of particles, and each atom has a sub-atom, a sub-sub-atom, and a sub-sub-sub atom and so on.

Those particles interact, and when they meet, they can strike a tiny fire, and depending on how they interact, the fire can grow larger and larger, and the fire causes “wind” (energy) that impacts how neighboring objects will react.

The fire can be extinguished and what will remain is a rock. The rock could be propelled by energy to go certain directions, or to orbit certain stars.

The rock could be made of hundreds of different elements, and, when it receives light and smoke from neighboring stars, it could develop blankets of air or smoke (that we call an atmosphere) and that could also change the composition of its rocks, its perceived color and so on.

Did the big bang really happen?

For the big bang to have happened, you would need a gigantic fire, and fire so gigantic that it eventually burst out and propelled itself around the universe. But for the big bang to take place, that gigantic fire would need to have been born in the first place.

So was there a big bang? Probably, and many of them. If in neighboring galaxies were to have stars way, way, way too big, they could blow up and scatter around the universe. In fact, imagine that tomorrow, in some not so distant galaxy, a huge, huge, huge star blew up and sent its debris over to our universe, and that some of that debris hits our planet.

But I would say, in the beginning, there was dust, there were particles, not a big bang. What caused the birth of atoms and particles? Kind of a chicken and egg question. Could be one atom that divided itself, leading to more divisions, more divisions and more divisions. That atom and its descendents then evolved into different types of atoms, that interacted, started fires (stars) and grew bigger and bigger to give shape to the current universe.

Could be different atoms being born in different parts of the universe.

But how did that first atom come to be? Now this is taking us gazillions of years back, and takes us to the question of how do you create energy out of nothing. That first atom may have been an “unwanted pregnancy” that is something that came out of nothing.

-Do we know everything about the universe? Is there a GUT (General Unified Theory)?

Here's how I explain this whole GUT hype. If I'm an anthropologist, I'd be ridiculed for coming up with a “theory of all the peoples of the world” because ethnic groups and social organizations change in time and space, evolve. Plus human kind is so vast that you can't study them all or know everything about everyone. You could derive general rules about the Chinese, but no amount of studying will lead you to know everything about China, much less the rest of the world.

Same goes for the universe. My gut feeling is that the further we move away from planet Earth the more different types of atoms and particles exist, those that we don't know of.

To me the universe kind of works like cuisine. You have rice, wheat and corn, which are staples around the world. But then you have several types of barley and rye and mil and sorgho, and if I worked hard enough in a lab I could come up with different staples. Then you have all the spices, but if I work hard in a lab or explore the world long enough I could discover hundreds, perhaps thousands of new spices. Same goes for meat and vegetables. In 2005, I don't think any of us knew what kale or soursop was. In 2011, everyone acted like they had always known that kale and soursop had always existed.

The universe kind of works the same. Except that we can explore our planet, but we have limited resources to explore our universe. So we can only use very limited speculations to describe the universe.

In sum, we could come up with a “constitution of the universe.” But as much as the US constitution says nothing about the Fed, FEMA, ICE, the CDC, the FBI, the CIA or the composition of the armed forces, our “constitution of the universe” would say nothing about gazillions of celestial objects and laws.

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