back to article Universe gains an extra hundred million years

Among the mysteries revealed by the first set of papers released out of the Planck telescope data is a new estimate for the age of the Universe: at 13.8 billion years, it's 100 million years older than previously calculated. As explained by The Register here, the space probe's mission is to give astronomers a better map of the …

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Coat

Oh no!

My project is even more overdue than I thought!

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B-D

But does it screw up the Standard Model?

AKA The Galaxy Song.

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Boffin

Planck?

Still waiting on a quantum unit of probability. That will sort things out.

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Anonymous Coward

In other news...

Creationists announced today that the earth was 6,000.1 years old after they figured God must have taken a nap break before he rested on the 7th day....

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JDX
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Re: In other news...

I came to the comments specifically to pre-empt one of our regular anti-creationist trolls. But you beat me to it.

WGAS what a minority group think?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In other news...

You need to get up earlier.

Bwaaahahaaahaaaaaa!

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Trollface

Re: In other news...

Anti-creationism is now trolling?

Oh brave new world.

I shall book a prolonged stay at Raptor Jesus Camp.

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Re: In other news...

I do expect, before the end of the month, to come across at least one creationist claiming that scientists changing their estimate just prove they were wrong before and thus don't know anything.

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Flame

Re: In other news...

I was expecting our measurement of the age of the university to change with better "equipment". I could, of course, estimate that it is still much older but that would be science fiction and not science.

But look at what science is up against, like here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KTxgrtWFg4

Enjoy.

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""As NASA explains in this release, the CMB “provides scientists with a snapshot of the universe 370,000 years after the big bang. Light existed before this time, but it was locked in a hot plasma similar to a candle flame, which later cooled and set the light free.”"

So....It appears that a hot candle flame is dark, and a cold (?) candle flame is light. Presumably this aspect of a flame applies to all flames, or are their different classes of flames?

Does it follow then that the best way to get warm from a fire is to put it out?

Come to think of it, we could save the planet with this one. By not lighting fires, we can see the not-light, get warm and avoid consuming all of those scarce resources, all at the same time.

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The entire universe was at the temperature hotter than that inside a candle flame for its first ~380,000 years. Photons don't travel very far in a plasma before interacting* with the constituent particles. So photons released by nuclear reactions at the heart of the sun take a long time (about a million years) before they reach the 'surface', after which they take 8 minutes to reach our eyes.

* Technically, they're absorbed and then another photon is released. Whether it's the same photon is a matter for philosophy.

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@Chris Miller

Stop obsessing about sticking a name tag on "teh particle" and follow the energy: a quanta of energy generated in the centre of the sun takes O (1E6) years to be transferred to the photosphere, O(8 minutes) to travel to Earth, and O(ms) to travel through the atmosphere and enter your eye. It probably makes a few interactions in the interplanetary medium, and a lot more in Earth's atmosphere.

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Whenever I see something that incomprehenseable, I attribute it to one of the super-mathhead cosmologists trying to explain things to us common folk in much the same way we might try to explain the concept of a computer to the first member of a jungle-dwelling tribe to make contact with civilisation.

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@I am replete

Yes, it wasn't a great piece of prose.

"Light existed before this time, but it was locked in a hot plasma similar to a candle flame, which later cooled and set the light free."

Light wasn't locked in at all. The entire universe was simply smaller. As others have noted, plasma *is* rather good at absorbing light, but if the plasma fills all of space then there is no "in" to be locked in.

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Headmaster

The universe is precisely as old as it ever was (actually, since we're being pedantic, it's a few years older than it was when the last measurement was performed). The new measurement is more accurate and provides us with a better estimate and tighter error bars.

It's similar to announcing 'Everest 3 metres higher, new measurements reveal' - it's our measuring methodology and accuracy that's changed, not the mountain.

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Anonymous Coward

For further pedantry, due to plate tectonics, Everest is growing by between 1mm and 1m per year...

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I'll buy the mm/year. But if Everest is growing at 1m per year, it will be sticking out of the atmosphere in a few millennia.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Why not? I suppose it depends on your real aims. It's almost certainly how government think tanks keep on the gravy train when working out things like demand for air travel.

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USGS says 1cm/year, on page I just looked up. Granite also becomes plastic under great pressures, leading to even flat regions rising and spreading (see Tibetan Plain) as rock flows underneath very slowly. Interestingly enough, such plains can eventually subside to the extent it becomes a valley. Death Valley is an extreme case (explained in a beautiful documentary of the sort only the British could make).

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Optional

This proves the Universe is female: She's been keeping her true age from us, and we've now realised she's older than we thought. Typical woman.

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Headmaster

If I remember rightly from my degree, Kelvin doesn't have one. So 2.7K, not 2.7°K.

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Wait...the simple answer is usually the best one?

Can someone please try to explain that to my boss.

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Happy

Good news

I feel much better knowing that the stuff we all are build from is 4.9%, not 4.6% of the Universe.

We are a minority, but a growing one!

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Re: Good news

You are Nigel Farage and I claim my 50 pieces of silver.

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Something bothers me about the idea of the universe having a finite age. Just as we look back on our ancestors who thought the planet was flat (some did) and wonder what they were thinking, or look back at our ancestors who thought the Sun orbited the Earth and wonder what they were thinking, or look back on our ancestors who thought species were created fully formed and wonder what they were thinking,

So too I can imagine in 200 years time people will look back at us and say "did they really think everything came into being 13.8 billion years ago?"

We can use the excuse that we are defining the universe narrowly as starting from the big bang in which case we are right. But I still suspect there will be a paradigm shift in the future which will leave our ancestors scratching their heads at why we assumed what we did.

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Alien

Indeed, the "universe has a start" is not pleasingly symmetric, which is why at first people assumed a steady state and it took long experimental validation to get where we now are: a pretty much ironclad model of a universe WITH a start but MAYBE WITHOUT AN END (at least along the time dimension).

However, efforts to symmetrize this are still underway. The easiest approach is to change your outlook and look at the universe as a 4D block in which the time dimension is just a large dimension along which the "block" exhibits some special internal properties. At the start an end, this dimension vanishes and fuses with the others, so you don't even have unelegant "cutoff" points and singularities. Very nice.

Or you can collate the start and end to older/newer universes, embed this universe in an eternally inflating Linde universe, or conformally map the full-entropy-and-very-large endstate of this universe to a small-entropy-and-very-compact beginning of another, phoenix like, à la Penrose.

The truth may forever elude us. And maybe this is for the best, BECAUSE....

There were, in such voyages, incalculable local dangers; as well as that shocking final peril which gibbers unmentionably outside the ordered universe, where no dreams reach; that last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the centre of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin, monotonous whine of accursed flutes; to which detestable pounding and piping dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic Ultimate gods, the blind, voiceless, tenebrous, mindless Other gods whose soul and messenger is the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep.

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big bang is nonsense

I laughed my head off when I saw tHe bbc reporting this as if fact.

So called professors wasting our hard earned tax on pointless ridiculous fairytale fantasy stories.

One of them said the universe started with a big bang expanding faster than speed of light then next professor with a straight face started talking about pre big bang - bunch of idiots.

Fact is we have no idea how universe started - these ideas no different to greek mythology.

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Thumb Down

Re: big bang is nonsense

I already told you Fark Off, did I not?

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Re: big bang is nonsense

Same here at work, the boss wanted one of the servers "plugged in" so called experts were going on about invisible little electron things wiggling about in invisible atoms being needed to make the machine work.

So I just just sacrificed a goat to ti and it immediately started. Although it does now say "Novell Netware"

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