The Science and Philosophy Forum

Author:  BurtJordaan [ October 9th, 2012, 10:53 am ]
Blog Subject:  Cosmic Engineering (Introduction)

As an engineer, I view my universe like I view a machine. But, like a microbe sitting inside some ball bearing deep within, without good blueprints, I have to try and figure out how this grand scale thing works. I have to essentially reverse engineer it from the inside, using the scraps of documentation left by other engineer-microbes (EMs) and some astronomer-microbes (AMs). In this Blog I will try to trace the steps that I have so far taken along the timeline of this infinite project.

OK, so I'm an EM sitting on this ball. Around me I see more balls and it seems that the balls are arranged to form something like a ball bearing. AMs call this ball bearing-thing the Solar System. I reckon it is a basic component of some or other sub-assembly (that's what EMs call such things). Looking around further, I spot what looks like the sub-assembly; AMs tell me it is the Milky Way, or just The Galaxy. There are many other such sub-assemblies that seem to be integrated into an assembly, which AMs refer to as the Local Group.

Borrowing some telescope time from my AM friends, I see many other such assemblies, much larger than this one; they call them Clusters of Galaxies. In my engineering mind, this must be the next higher level assembly. The AMs immediately point out that our Galaxy belongs to the Virgo cluster, but there are some more clusters like Virgo, all clumped together in what they have unimaginatively called the Virgo Supercluster. So, the Virgo Supercluster may perhaps be a subsystem, because integration EMs normally put the higher level assemblies together into subsystems.

Finally EMs connect together all the subsystems to form a complete system, inevitable leaving some space between them. My AM colleagues said yes, they put clusters together to form super-clusters, which they then string together to form our Observable Universe. Where EMs normally connect subsystems together by means of cables, wireless- or optical links, etc., AMs put super-clusters together by means of filaments, sheets or walls of galaxies, leaving huge empty voids between them.

At the moment it seems to me as if there are no larger observable structures, so for all practical purposes, this is my cosmic machine. Very broadly speaking, my machine's family tree looks like this: Cosmic machine

My detail journey of discovery will start in the next issue...

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