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12:03pm on Saturday, 17th January, 2009:

Building a Better Universe


Who built this universe? Some kind of amateur universe-builder?

I mean, what kind of n00b decided to make it expanding? It expands, so it gets bigger, so all the stars are moving away from each other, so all the light they give off is red-shifted. Standing on the surface of Earth at night, I should be looking at a sky that's uniformally bright. Head off in a straight line in any direction for long enough, and eventually you'll hit a star; therefore, there's light coming back to Earth along that same line, and, because you could have chosen any direction, that means it comes from every direction. Our night sky should be completely illuminated.

As, indeed, it is — only it's red-shifted so we don't see it. If the stars were relatively fixed in space, though, we would see them. What's more, individually they wouldn't have to be as bright, because even during the day the rest of the universe would be contributing to daylight. It would save on both energy and mass, which could be used to make a universe even more infinite than the crocked version we live in.

But no, that's just the sensible solution. Instead of this, we have a universe where perfectly good light goes to waste; rather than having only a pale, attractive star during the day making its own modest contribution to the universe's overall light levels, we have to endure a great blazing yellow ball of light that shines straight into your eyes when you're driving to Sainsbury's and reflects off the wet road to give you twice as much blinding dazzle power. By the time I arrived, I had tears streaming down my face as my visual system protested at what it was having to go through.

But do these universe designers think of this? No, they don't.

As usual, it's one law for omnipotent beings and another for the beings who are emergent consequences of their creative efforts.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).