Nagoya City Science Museum

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Exhibition Guide

The Edge of the Universe




Purpose of Exhibition

Celestial objects and various information on astronomy subjects are displayed on the perimeter of this exhibition room. Walking clockwise along the wall, we can travel through the scale of the universe starting from the size of the Earth to the edge of the universe.
This scale is based on the notion of "Powers of Ten (10 no Bekijyo, in Japanese)", making the lengths of each step you take 10 times longer then the last one.

There is the Earth and the Solar System, many stars and galaxies. What comes next? It must be the edge of the Universe. This exhibition introduces on a large screen, the large scale structure of the universe and its history, from the big bang to the present. Also the expanding Universe, the mapping and the dawn of the Universe.

Additional Knowledge

[What Is the Edge of the Universe?]
If you travel all the way up into space, do you think there is an edge for the universe, like a wall as it was thought in ancient cosmology? This is a very interesting question.
Before considering about the boundary of the universe, let's think about the surface of the Earth first. If we go straight in the same direction, since the earth is a sphere, we should return to the same place we started sooner or later. This shows that the Earth's surface does not have an edge. So if the universe is round like the Earth, it also means that there is no edge to the Universe. If we look far out into it, we may see our backs someday.
But in the 21st century, by observing the distortion of the "Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)", the light around the beginning of the universe was observed precisely. It revealed that the Universe is flat, not round, meaning that if we can look far enough we should be able to see the edge of the Universe, since the situation now is the same as a flat surface. At this point, we should consider that our Universe does not have only three space dimensions, but also the forth dimention which is the time. Our universe began with the big bang 13.8 billion years ago, and there was no Universe before that. Since the speed of light is finite, by observing far into a given distance we are actually looking at the light from the past, as old as the time that light needs to travel that distance. One light year is the distance that light travels in a year. So by looking one light year away from us we can see the space as it was one year ago, and if it is one billion light years apart, we can see it as it was one billion years ago. Therefore we can eventually see the universe 13.8 billion light years ago with giant telescopes, and if we try to see beyond that, we can not see anytihg, because the universe was not even born. "The edge of the visible Univers" is 13.8 billion light years away from us.


【 References 】

Article by Astronomy Section


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