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May 25, 2017

Cosmic, Man: Scientists Speculate That the Great "Cold Spot" in the Universe Might Be the Impact Zone of Another Universe Colliding With Our Own

See Wikipedia for background on the cosmic background microwave "Cold Spot." It is, as the name suggests, notably colder than other parts of the universe.

Which is interesting, at least to people interested by such things, as the Universe tends to have a lot of "isotropy," a word meaning that it appears pretty much the same (in terms of distribution of matter, background radiation, heat, etc.) no matter which way you look.

"Anisotropies," areas which are outliers as far as this generally-roughly-equivalent-dispersion rule, interest scientists -- Why?

(One example of an interesting anisotropy is the Shapely Supercluster, an area of space which is overly dense with galaxies compared to everywhere else, and which is itself being pulled towards a gargantuan pit of supergravity called the Great Attractor, which itself must be an even more superdense region.)

But back to the Cold Spot. Scientists are speculating that the Cold Spot is cold because it might be the impact zone of another universe colliding with our own, which I'm going to analogize is like a meteor pushing away molten rock to its periphery, forming a crater outside it, and a void where it actually hit.

Some scientists are speculating that the normal levels of background radiation were "shunted" away from the impact zone, and that the Cold Spot is therefore maybe physical evidence of universes beyond our own.

Matter seems to have been shunted out of the Cold Spot too, or at least that's what I would guess based on this description of the area as a "supervoid," a curiously large expanse containing far less stuff than other parts of the universe.

Also note, though, that that article notes that these areas of overdensity and underdensity are rare but not singularly so, and I've heard physicists suggest that this can be explained pretty simply -- sure, the universe will tend to be mostly isotropic, but there is no such thing as perfect isotropy, and so it would sort of be odder to see a near-perfectly isotropic universe than a not-so-isotropic one. I think the idea is like if you flip a coin 1000 times -- you'd expect the most likely outcome to be 500 heads, 500 tails, but if you actually got that perfect distribution, you'd be kind of surprised. (And in fact stuff like that -- where experimental results come out too close to the expected -- are often taken as possible evidence of fraud in the experiment, because things just don't work out neatly like that very often.)

Even if you assume nearly perfect distribution of energy in the first bloom of the Big Bang, random fluctuations and Heisenberg-type effects guarantee you're not going to get an actually perfect distribution, and once the distribution isn't perfect, stuff starts happening, like some blobs of matter being drawn towards others by gravity, and voids beginning to form simply because that area's matter got pulled into some other area.

Anyway, cool stuff. Not sure if it proves the existence of other universes, but I'd like to think so, because I think we need another one, stat.

Never Mind? This article from last month says the Cold Spot doesn't even exist, but is just an artifact of the technique of data collection used to produce the WMAP.

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posted by Ace at 08:23 PM

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