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What is the Universe? - Essay

  • Date Submitted: 09/20/2012 05:25 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 41.5 
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What is the Universe?
  The word universe derives from the Old French word Univers, which in turn derives from the Latin word universum which means "everything rotated as one" or "everything rotated by one".The root word itself provides the stage for the confrontation between scientists and conservatives. The broadest definition of the universe can be found in De divisione naturae by the medieval philosopher and theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena, who defined it as simply everything: everything that is created and everything that is not created
       More customarily, the universe is defined as everything that exists, has existed, and will exist.


Size
      The universe is immensely large and possibly infinite in volume. The region visible from Earth (the observable universe) is a sphere with a radius of about 46 billion light years, based on where the expansion of space has taken the most distant objects observed. For comparison, the diameter of a typical galaxy is only 30,000 light-years, and the typical distance between two neighboring galaxies is only 3 million light-years.


Structure
      The observable matter is spread homogeneously (uniformly) throughout the universe, when averaged over distances longer than 300 million light-years. However, on smaller length-scales, matter is observed to form "clumps", i.e., to cluster hierarchically; many atoms are condensed into stars, most stars into galaxies, most galaxies into clusters, superclusters and, finally, the largest-scale structuressuch as the Great Wall of galaxies.
      The observable matter of the universe is also spread isotropically, meaning that no direction of observation seems different from any other; each region of the sky has roughly the same content. The universe is also bathed in a highly isotropic microwave radiation that corresponds to a thermal equilibrium blackbody spectrum of roughly 2.725-kelvins. The hypothesis that the large-scale universe is homogeneous...

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