Just because the only signs of extraterrestrial life we’ve found so far has been iffy remains of ancient Martian bacteria doesn’t mean that life is something exclusive to Earth. A new study co-authored by a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health concludes that life originated elsewhere in the Universe around 9.8 billion years ago – roughly five-billion years before the Earth was even formed.
After a bunch of observations and a bunch of math and sciencey stuff and measurements and whatnot, it looks like that the universe is about 80 million years older than previously thought, which is 560 million years older in dog years.
It’s a question that’s been posed by thinkers and armchair philosophers for decades: “How do we know that our universe isn’t just a massive simulation of an incomprehensibly massive computer system?” Well, researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany have attempted to tackle the problem and it appears that they can’t entirely rule out the possibility.
Right now, scientists are slowly unraveling tiny secrets of our universe that 100 years ago would have been completely unthinkable. Multiple dimensions, the fabric of time and space itself… and perhaps at some point we might be able to find some sort of evidence that our universe might be in a multiverse. Not tomorrow, but someday maybe.
For decades, physicists have been seriously trying to figure out whether or not our universe is a three-dimensional holographic projection from a two dimensional plane on the edge of the universe. For some, this is the best explanation for much of the quantum weirdness that otherwise seems to defy anything we know.
Of some of the cool things that scientists have discovered about the universe by smashing tiny bits and pieces of matter together in the Large Hadron Collider, this is probably the weirdest. By smashing nuclei together to achieve temperatures in excess of ten trillion degrees, physicists have discovered that the very early universe may have been a super hot liquid soup. Specifically, a liquid-like substance called quark-gluon plasma.
The current model of the birth of the universe is that it started somewhere around 13.7 billion years ago, starting from a seed of near infinite energy into a sea of absolute nothingness. While many scientists have expressed unease at the idea that all of matter and energy sprang into being from a single point supposedly spontaneously, it’s what we’ve got. There’s currently no evidence to support the idea of anything before. But physicist Sir Roger Penrose believes that he’s found that evidence of a previous universe.
Hubble’s pretty good at spotting celestial objects that are very, very far away, but a galaxy named UDFy-38135539 is the new record holder for the oldest object ever discovered at 13 light billion years away.
The exciting thing about astronomy is that the more we learn about the universe, the more we realize how complicated it is and how much we still have to learn. But if we’re correct about the physics of our universe— physics that only work in a confined universe— our universe will have to end in 3.7 billion years. That’s a bummer.