A big sculpture vaguely in the middle of the University of New Mexico campus. It is the intersection of six concrete tunnels, and is profoundly ugly and pointless. If you rollerblade through the center of it the wrong way, the grate that stops people from falling down into the downward axis of the thing will grab your wheels and pitch you face-first onto the steel mesh. Not very nice.

And you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you

Admiting other coordinates systems into our universe is just a convention.

I trace plots from many coordinates systems.

But, I am the centre of the universe

And maybe I am alone

Toronto

The name of this incredible megacity means "the meeting place" in Huron. FYI, the exact centre of the universe is at Yonge & Dundas, acording to several large subway ads put up by Eatons.

I often find it fascinating that in a world dominated by Americans, Toronto has managed to stake a largely unchallenged claim to this title; a title that one would think any self-respecting city would lust after out of sheer tenacious pride.

OTOH, TO does have one feature that no other city on the planet can touch: it has no majority ethnic group. Yep, you heard that right! As a consequence of being the target for the overwhelming majority of Canada's burgeoning immigrant influx, Toronto has morphed into the 1st ever truly international city. As such, I can think of no better place to be considered at least the centre of the planet, if not the entire universe.

Peoples' ideas of the center of the Universe have undergone several relocations throughout history. Most have been little more than window dressing for individuals trying to to place themselves at the center of the Universe.

For centuries, various groups of people believed the land they lived in was the center of the universe. For example, the Ancient Greeks had their Omphalos, ("navel-stone") at Delphi, and the Chinese had their Middle Kingdom with, I believe an analogous stone. Uisnach in Ireland, Cuzco (literally "Navel of the world") in Peru and Mount Agung in Bali are also similarly centrally located.

Then came people like Aristotle1 and later Ptolemy who placed the Earth at the center of the universe.

In the regression of the Christian Era, giving us a flat Earth once again, some people placed Jerusalem at the center.

Then, Nicolaus Copernicus theorized that the Earth revolved around the Sun, placing it at the center. After many burnings at the stake in a vain attempt to suppress the idea, this became the accepted view.

Accepted, that is, until Isaac Newton's mechanics and the realization that some stars are much larger than the Sun dislodged our nearest star from its exalted position. Some placed the center at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the only one known to exist at the time. But generally, there were two views:

  • There is no center.
  • There is a motionless fluid, known as the Ether, whch permeates space. This was later generalized to a preferred "motionless" frame of reference.
The Michelson-Morley Experiment did away with the ether.

Then along came general relativity with a prediction of an expanding universe and Edwin Hubble with his observational proof.

Every point in the universe is racing away from every other; not only that, at the moment of the Big Bang, every point started racing away from every other point.

This led many people (including Stephen Hawking) to the conclusion that every point is at the center of the Universe.

Um. Remember what I said at the beginning of this writeup? Do you know that annoying person2 who imagines that the universe revolves around them?

I'm afraid they're right.


1An old windbag according to Petr Beckmann but it was still a change.

2Zaphod Beeblebrox actually had this demonstrated to him in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

The universe is of infinite dimensions. It is ever-expanding. If we assume the surface of the universe is 2D (Like the Earth), then if you walk far enough in the same direction you will get back to where you started from!

Of course, the space between distant galaxies is expanding so fast that you'd be hard pressed to make any real progress outside of our cluster of galaxies.

Take this analogy: Small stickers glued onto a balloon, the balloon is inflated. If you are on a sticker, the space is not expanding under your feet. If you venture out of the sticker (out of the tightly grouped cluster of galaxies) then it will be expanding around you. Depending on the rate of inflation of the balloon, you may not get anywhere! (It is even possible that as soon as you step off the disc any space between you and the disc will begin to expand rapidly - so you may never be able to get back to the disc! But in any case, traveling to the edge of the galaxy cluster is about as impossible as anything else at this point in time... we can't even travel to the edge of out Solar System let alone galaxy!)

If you say that the universe is more like a balloon with the galaxies floating around inside and the balloon is expanding, then in theory you could check out the edges of the universe, and then use that information to predict where the centre of it was! Of course this too would be highly impossible at this point in time! In theory the universe could go on to infinity... with more sparse distribution the further out you venture. Like prime numbers, first theres lots of them, and as you get to larger numbers primes are more and more sparse! At one point the next prime will be too far away to be visible, but that doesn't mean it is the last prime, and you have reached the edge of the prime numbers...does it? So how do we really know if what we see is the end of the universe, or just a really big gap between this galaxy cluster and the next...

I don't think I know enough mathematics to know if it is possible to predict the origin of all these galaxies without a reference point. It might be possible to use the direction of motion of other galaxies to triangulate in to the origin of motion... the location of the Big Bang, but that too is quite impossible seeing as we can't even get an accurate prediction for the Hubble Constant. Let alone accurately measure not only the speed, but also the direction of these receding galaxies.

If you assume that the universe is 4D, then it could in fact be in a twisted Klein Bottle configuration. So if you did attempt to reach the edge you would never find it, since there is really only one side! This would mean though, that the universe is 2D. It going along the surface of the klein bottle, which of course has no edge, much like a sphere.

With all this said, I am confident in saying that I am at the centre of the universe. The universe revolves around me (for the sake of cliche). Everything else is moving away from me. The big bang was right here. Now prove me wrong and I'll stand down.

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