Tour #2: Step 1. The Universe Is Very Small



Big Board-little universe

Just 201+ exponential notations for the entire known Universe?

“No way!  Impossible.  That’s just impossible.”

We, too, couldn’t believe it at first. We triple-checked our simple math,” then added, “And, the first 101 notations only bring us up to the width of a human hair at the very top of this chart.” The response, “What? That’s just another 101+  doublings or steps to the edge of the universe? …from the width of a hair? That’s very hard to believe.”

But, the numbers are the numbers. And, it opens a very different view of our universe. It’s more simple and more mysterious than most of us think.

The total grains of wheat: 18,446,744,073,709,551,615

The total grains of wheat: 18,446,744,073,709,551,615

The first 64 notations open our very small universe for exploration. Fermions and protons of theoretical physics emerge at notation 66.

At the very bottom on the left is the Planck Length.  It is a specific length. It is not a point. It can be multiplied by 2.

Remember the old fable about a farmer and the king and the grain of wheat on the first block and what happens when you multiply it by 2, and each result by 2? It is the “Wheat and Chessboard puzzle.” When based on the Planck Length, what happens in those 64 steps is a bit of a mystery.  But there is a lot of work — logic, research and mathematics — that could be immediately applied. We can actually begin to make a few guesses about what happens in first 64 notations (layers, steps, or doublings).  But, we’ll hold that for later.

This Big Board on the left divides the known Universe into two sections.  The next division would be into three sections. These would be:

The Small Scale Universe: Notations 1 to 67-68-and-69

The Human-Scale Universe: Notations 67-68-69 to 134-to-138

The Large-Scale Universe: Notations 134-138 to 202-to-306

These three scales are an excellent place to begin. Most of us would say that we spend our life within just 68 notations. The goal of this project is to have you engage as many notations as possible!

Simple is simple and small is small. One of our sixth-grade science classes understood the basic construct for the Big Board – little universe. Most of the class picked it up quickly yet with some amazement. They had to examine the numbers to believe it. And, once they saw how numbers grow exponentially, they also began to see how the interior constructions of the tetrahedron and octahedron began to pull it all together. These children wanted more. We hope you want to see more, too.

Facts & Guesses.  The Facts  are what is measurable and what fits within each domain. The Guesses  are about what goes on with those domains (aka steps, notations, layers or doublings) that seem to remain blank. Is there a pattern, especially a cyclic pattern that manifests in another notation? We followed Max Planck where he took the constants of nature, starting with the speed of light to calculate the smallest number. We took the age of the universe, with some help from scientists, to learn the largest calculation of a length, the Observable Universe. Making sense of these numbers is another story. So, let’s look even deeper.

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Notes about Look-and-feel and Navigation: If any of the letters from right column, the Archives and Meta are bleeding through the image of the Universe Table, please open your window larger (possibly to full screen). Usually if you click on the last sentence in each description you will go to the next page.

More notes about the how these charts came to be:

First, there are three downloads authored by Prof. Dr. Frank Wilczek: Scaling Mt. Planck (from Columbia University), C. Alden Mead’s letter and Wilczek’s response in Physics Today, and Wilczek’s August 2013 Lecture notes on units and magnitude (If you like this paper, also read this one).

The simple conceptual starting points

An article (unpublished) to attempt to analyze this simple model. There are pictures of a tetrahedron and octahedron.

A background story: It started in a high school geometry class on December 19, 2011.

The sequel: Almost two years later, a student stimulates the creation of this little tour.

Wikipedia on the Planck length

Wikipedia on the Observable Universe


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