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Q & A: Age of the universe

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
We know because of Einstein that time and space are inseparabe--the two (or four if we’re counting dimensions) are "woven" together. Inflation says that the Universe underwent a rapid expansion early in its age. This must mean that time expanded as well, right? If this is so, how does this affect our understanding of the Univers’ age?
- Daniel (age 29)
Lakeland, FL, USA
A:
In 1929 the astronomer Edwin Hubble observed that distant galaxies move away from us with velocities proportional to their distance, i.e. the universe appears to be expanding.
Our concept of 'The age of the universe' is based on the fact that we can extrapolate the Hubble expansion rate backwards in time to a 'crunch' situation, yielding a result
of about 13 billion years.  

Inflation, if in fact it is true, took place in the earliest instants of the big bang.  It was over and done with in an eye blink and really doesn't count in the determination of
the age of the universe.  

For additional information on this subject look at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble's_law
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_inflation

LeeH

p.s. There's also apparently some inflation going on now, but it's much, much weaker than that early burst.  mike w.


(published on 10/22/2007)

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