Talk:Universe

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Former good article Universe was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Totality of existence[edit]

There is a difference between universe as totality of existence and other terms mentioned (cosmos, world, nature, ...), and it could be that this difference is enormous considering various philosophical, religious and even pyhsical (multiverse) theories about existence. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 93.103.74.8 (talk) 17:21, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

For this article, Physics/Astronomy/Quantum Physics "own" the article name plus the article multiverse. Other definitions may be construed but would need to be qualified. Universe (religion) or Universe (philosophy), that sort of thing. There is no ambiguity here, nor room for further disciplines. Student7 (talk) 18:50, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
If so, then the first 'phylosophical' statement in the article doesn't belong here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 93.103.74.8 (talk) 20:44, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

The first sentence of this article presupposes naturalism, making it a philosophical statement. This is why I find it difficult to take Wikipedia seriously at times. It's obvious that the sentence was construed this way to push an agenda. Science is a methodology by which we can observe, study, and predict physical phenomena (e.g. planets, stars, etc.). Therefore, one would have to presume there is nothing but physical reality in order to state that the universe (a physical manifold) is the totality of all existence. 24.128.244.108 (talk) 03:13, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

Then your problem is not with Wikipedia but with encyclopedias in general, because virtually all encyclopedias define it that way.
If your claim is true, then I suppose I would take issue with those other encyclopedias as well. They would be just as misleading and biased with their definition of universe. Is your claim true though? Even if it were, that's not a good argument to continue the ignorance. Is it? In any case, I noticed you didn't touch upon the main point I was driving at with my comments. That being said, according to http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/139365/universe the universe is "the whole cosmic system of matter and energy of which Earth, and therefore the human race, is a part." A much better first sentence for the definition of universe, I must say. Notice how the definition doesn't presuppose naturalism in the opening sentence. 24.128.244.108 (talk) 04:42, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

This is exactly what I came here to post. I think that adding the qualifier "The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of physical existence" would solve most of these philosophical problems with that opening sentence. Wikipedia is a document of the human experience of life, and I think it's inappropriate to completely ignore the metaphysical/spiritual realm of existence that an overwhelming majority of human beings believe in -- whether you may agree or disagree. Pinkpills (talk) 08:33, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Inserting religious dogma in this article is no more appropriate than going around and inserting, "but science says this is stupid" in every article on religious topics. — Gopher65talk 13:42, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
Totally agree with Gopher65's comments above. This article is no place for religious dogma. David J Johnson (talk) 13:59, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
You two are the first that have brought up religion. As far as I can see the change made had nothing to do with religion, but more with logic and philosophy. To highlight the problem with the old first sentence consider the following: Mathematics exists. But is mathematics part of the universe as commonly defined? Probably not. Adding the word "physical" to the first sentence nicely clarifies in what sense the word "exist" is used.TR 16:44, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
Then may I respectfully suggest that you re-read Pinkpill's comments above, which is furthering the religious theme - as is the rest of their contributions to Wikipedia. David J Johnson (talk) 16:59, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
My I respectfully ask that you actually respond to arguments? Whatever his motivation, his change was an improvement for the reason I mentioned above.TR 20:14, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I have responded to the "arguments", you are the only editor who thinks that Pinkpills changes are an improvement. Further you have no reason to engage in a personal attack in your comments when you make an edit. You need to abide by Wikipedia conventions in future. Unlike yourself, I have no intention of entering a edit war with you. I'm happy to wait for other editors response to the matter. As far as I'm concerned - case closed. David J Johnson (talk) 20:43, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Gopher65 and David J Johnson; the qualification "physical" is not needed. --ChetvornoTALK 20:58, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
Although not strictly necessary, it does help to provide context for the definition. As I noted above, the current first sentence can be construed to include abstractions (like mathematics) that would not normally be considered "part of the universe". In this sense having the qualification "physical" is somewhat helpful. I have yet to see anybody here provide an argument why have that qualification would detract from the article.TR 21:14, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I recently read a bit about this, and, fascinatingly, it isn't known whether math exists as a construct within our universe, or if it exists independently of our universe in a greater multi/metaverse, or if it exists independently of any universe, as a kind of sea of probability. It's an interesting subject:). But because it isn't known (or even "leaned" either way, as far as I can tell), we can't really make a claim like that in the opening sentence. — Gopher65talk 00:42, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
It's not a claim about physicalism, MUH, etc., it helps distinguish the topic of this article from Universe of discourse, for example.—Machine Elf 1735 02:50, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The first sentence is extremely bad but adding "physical" to it makes it worse. Where is the reference for this? Bhny (talk) 04:08, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Why ask for a reference for something supposedly "redundant"? It's not btw, but what people seem troubled about is that it's too specific in the sense given at the "physical universe" article: that it would exclude the supernatural. However, that seems ok to me because this article doesn't actually cover the supernatural, fictional universes, mathematical universe (mathematics), etc.—Machine Elf 1735 06:16, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
It is frustating to try to discuss, when people do not explain why they think something is "redundant" or "makes things worse". It makes building consensus hard.TR 08:00, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
"Physical" is redundant because the universe is everything that exists and non-physical things don't exist. Saying "physical" also weirdly implies the existence of non-physical things outside of the universe. But that is only my opinion and doesn't matter! If the references say "physical" then we use physical. "Why ask for a reference" seems a crazy question to me. Bhny (talk) 19:30, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps redundant given the "Physical cosmology" sidebar, but I agree the "commonly defined" part's pure weasel.—Machine Elf 1735 05:15, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
"Saying "physical" also weirdly implies the existence of non-physical things outside of the universe." — That is exactly my problem with that phrasing. It's nonsensical. — Gopher65talk 12:24, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
I like this debate I got going here. I still stand by my wording. "Saying 'physical' also weirdly implies the existence of non-physical things outside of the universe." Not exactly, but close: it implies the possible existence of non-physical things outside the universe. This is where the question of neutral POV comes in. To a naturalist, the physical universe is all there is, end of story. But neutral does not mean "naturalist". The definition should be fair to the very large majority of people who believe in "higher" realms of whatever kind. That isn't nonsensical at all; it's simply a different opinion than yours. So I still think we need to be careful how we define the Universe, and calling it the totality of physical existence works for most beliefs. But maybe there is an even better way to word it.Pinkpills (talk) 12:37, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
The reason it is nonsensical is because - by definition - the universe contains everything physical and non-physical that can impact our existence. The only reason to insert the word "physical" there is as a weasel word to try and imply that there are non-physical things that exist inside the universe, but also non-physical things that exist outside the universe. You've now entered the realm of wide imagination. This addition is necessary only if your personal beliefs include things that are so far outside the known laws of physics that no reasonable addition to those laws could cover your beliefs. What's ruled impossible by that line of reasoning? Not much. FTL? Nope, we can imagine laws that would cover that. Might not be true, but it could be. "Higher planes of existence"? Might exist. May well not, but meh. "Aliens killed my cattle!"? They're almost certainly not here, but they aren't precluded from existing or being here. Telepathy? Doesn't seem likely, but we can certainly imagine that new physical laws could be uncovered that would allow previously unthought of types of long distance communication. Miracles/curses? Well, maybe something exists that alters the laws of probablity somehow? Doesn't seem likely, but maybe. That covers almost every belief system, and it's all included inside the word "universe". What's precluded though? As I said, not much. Some older mythologies can no longer exist (hollow Earth, glass spheres, etc). But for modern mythologies? Pretty much just one: an all seeing, all power, all knowing, omnipresent God. That is precluded. That is impossible. That cannot exist within our universe.
So, as I originally stated waaaay up at the top of this topic, putting the word "physical" in there is inserting religious dogma into this article. And not even general religious dogma, but rather support for a specific subset of Abrahamic religions. This is not a religious article. It is not the place for mythology. There are articles that are all about such topics. That is where statements like that should go. — Gopher65talk 14:38, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
I have to go to work now, so no edits for a while, but I hope that didn't sound overly harsh. It was intended to get an idea across, not be mean. — Gopher65talk 14:42, 31 May 2014 (UTC)

Edit Warring[edit]

Well, with the exception of obvious vandalism I don't engage in more than 1 revert of someone's content. I don't like edit warring. So hopefully we have enough people chime in on this that a consensus is possible. — Gopher65talk 03:45, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Finite Vs Infinite[edit]

To imply the universe is infinite, means the Universe or everything that we are referring to is in fact not Everything and thus we are allowing ourselves to be contradictory rather than "non contradictory" aka "Finite".

The laws of physics work because they are based upon finite non contradictory quanta. Thus the Universe can only ever be Finite, no matter how much of it we will never know about it.

Yes the universe presents infinitely, but that's only possible by way of some unknown division aka assumed "Infinite" division. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 120.148.16.19 (talk) 22:20, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

Do you have a citation to support this? There are other citations which refute it and state the (this) universe is geographically infinite. Both positions should be in article. Student7 (talk) 19:05, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't know what you're on about. The Universe may be finite or it may be infinite in terms of space. Space is curved. The curvature may be such that the Universe is curved in on itself (like the surface of a sphere) in which case it is finite in size. Otherwise it's infinite. Matter and energy may be quantised but there may be a finite or infinite number of these quanta. Jimp 10:11, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

An infinite universe?[edit]

“The size of the Universe is unknown; it may be infinite.””

“…the Big Bang model suggests that at some moment all matter in the universe was contained in a single point, which is considered the beginning of the universe.”

If it is infinite, then it always must have been infinite so going back in time would not result in a point-like beginning? Antonquery (talk) 01:44, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Zero times infinity can be zero. This exactly what happens if you evolve the universe back in time according to general relativity. Please also note that wikipedia talk pages are not the place to ask questions. They are here to discuss improvements to articles.TR 12:47, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Well, if the creation of an infinite universe (and ditto matter and energy content) cannot be completed within a finite time, then the big bang should still be going on as we speak. If, on the other hand, its dimensions and hence its matter/energy content is finite, but there is nothing outside of it to whom or what its exact size, its matter and energy content can matter –its density, the value of k– then its magnitude also cannot matter as seen from within, and hence not affect the fate of the universe. Antonquery (talk) 08:22, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
Antonquery was not asking a general question, he was bringing up an apparent contradiction between two statements in the article, which is within the scope of this page. As I understand it, the two statements are not contradictory, but the paradoxical reason is buried in the Solving Einstein's field equations section and perhaps should be addressed more prominently in the article. If the curvature of the universe is zero or negative (k = 0 or -1), at any time after the Big Bang the universe has infinite size; given any number of kilometers d you can find two points in the universe which are separated by a greater (spacelike) distance than that. As time t goes on, the (spacelike) distance between any two points in the universe is constantly expanding. Conversely as you look back further in time, the distance between any two points gets less. What happens at the Big Bang itself is undefined, but as the time approaches the Big Bang, the distance between any two points or objects approaches zero. The universe is infinite but all distances approach zero. This indicates a breakdown of the concept of distance at the instant of the Big Bang, a singularity in the metric.
The article does attempt to address this by saying: "A common misconception is that the Big Bang model predicts that matter and energy exploded from a single point in space and time; that is false. Rather, space itself was created in the Big Bang...." But perhaps it should be explained better. --ChetvornoTALK 22:49, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
Given his posting history, it is more like he was just asking a question. (This is not the first time I have answered one of his questions.) Nonetheless, you are right that somebody asking a question might indicate something is unclear about the article.TR 10:36, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I guess if a reader wants a more detailed explanation he can also refer to other articles, such as the Metric expansion of space article. --ChetvornoTALK 17:50, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
My problem is that if the universe creates itself out of nothing, then everything inside of it, including space and time, should add to nothing, cancel –which is not unlike how the sum of all debts and credits on Earth is always zero. In that case the universe isn't just unobservable from the outside (which is the same as saying that mass, energy, space and time aren't defined outside of it): it then is that extraordinary, paradoxical 'thing' which has no external physical reality but only exists as seen from within. While its unobservability wouldn’t matter if particles have been provided with properties shortly into the bang so their properties are privately owned quantities, only the cause of interactions, if in a self-creating universe particles must create themselves, each other, then particles, particle properties must be as much the cause as the effect of their interactions. In that case it is no longer legitimate to consider the universe as an ordinary object which has particular properties and evolves as a whole, in time. If it cannot have particular properties as a whole as ‘seen’ from the outside, then it also cannot not have particular properties and be in any particular state as a whole as seen from within.Put differently, if the universe, among many kinds of particles, would contain only a single electrically charged particle, then it wouldn’t be able to express its charge –in which case it cannot be charged itself. A property, any property then must be something which lives within particle interactions. So if we speak about the properties of an object, we implicitly assert that there is an environment in which they can be expressed in interactions. In speaking about the properties of the universe, we in fact state that it owes its properties to something outside of it: that it has been created by some outside intervention -so the Big Bang hypothesis is a naïve, essentially religious tale, never mind the observational ‘evidence. Antonquery (talk) 02:58, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
As TR said, this is not the place to discuss general questions about the universe. Guess you were right, TR. --ChetvornoTALK 05:11, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
Does it matter much where it is discussed if the answer affects the text page: whether the statement “The size of the Universe is unknown; it may be infinite” should be changed or not? Antonquery (talk) 08:22, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

"commonly defined" weasel words[edit]

I've tried unsuccessfully before to remove the weasel words "commonly defined" from the first sentence. I think our current definition is good but far from a common one, and it is now a lie to say "commonly defined". Also it is weasely and against WP:REFERS. The standard structure of the first sentence of a good article is usually <topic> is <definition>. If there are two or more definitions then we should just list them or find a simple definition that covers them all. As it is now we are just inferring that there are other better, less common, definitions that we won't tell you about. Bhny (talk) 04:19, 31 May 2014 (UTC)

Universe and reality[edit]

The universe is certainly part of reality--but is it the totality of reality? The opening paragraph of this article seems to indicate that it is. In particular, I'm talking about the sentence, "Similar terms include the cosmos, the world, reality, and nature." First, I find this sentence redundant because universe was already clearly defined before it. It's redundant as far as that's concerned unless the editor is making an attempt to lump "universe" in with "reality," as though the universe and reality were synonymous. Perhaps they are and perhaps they aren't. The terms are certainly synonymous to the naturalist, but that isn't a neutral position. 24.128.244.108 (talk) 06:05, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't say the "universe" is synonymous with "reality", Different terms have been used in history and in everyday discourse to discuss the concept we now call the "universe" For example the word "World" was used extensively in Western philosophy to mean "universe" (particularly before it was understood there were other "worlds"). Some of the terms from the sentence are also used in dictionary definitions of "universe". We've had a lot of discussion on this page already about the philosophical meaning of "universe". I think it's fine the way it is. --ChetvornoTALK 08:33, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

The opening paragraph defines the universe as a physical manifold which is true; that's what it is. However, at the end of the paragraph a laundry list of words are used and we're told that these are all similar to what the universe--a physical manifold--is. One word in the list is "reality." But reality encompasses absolutely everything that is real or actual, which would include even the supernatural (e.g., God). The problem with this is the supernatural is by definition a category of being that transcends the universe or nature. So there's a glaring problem here unless one holds the belief that there is no such thing as a category of being outside of nature, that naturalism is true, that the universe IS reality, and not merely a stratum of reality. 24.128.244.108 (talk) 09:07, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

And that is why it says "similar" and not "equivalent", i.e. there is overlap in how the terms are used, and within a certain POVs (but not others) they could even be used as synonyms.TR 09:19, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Similar how though? Reality encompasses everything that is real or actual. The universe encompasses all physicality. So in what way is "reality" and "universe" similar? Calling these two words similar is like calling the set of natural numbers and the set {1, 2, 3} similar. I guess they're similar in the sense that they're both sets, but that's not worth noting. I don't think these two words are similar in any way or to be more modest: in any meaningful way. For the sake of my next point, let's say they're similar. How similar are they? That isn't explained at all, which makes things confusing and ambiguous for the reader. There are people reading the opening paragraph, being taught that the universe is spacetime or all physicality, and then they go on to read that this is similar to reality. But when one investigates this claim by clicking on reality they find that reality is much bigger than the universe--or at least there is the possibility that it is.

There seems to be something fishy going on here. One problem is many of the editors here at Wikipedia don't have any formal training in the topics that they're editors for--so one see them doing silly things like comparing "reality" with "the universe." A person with a little training in science and philosophy wouldn't make such a mistake in a so-called encyclopedia that is supposedly neutral, unless they were purposely trying to push a certain viewpoint like naturalism. 24.128.244.108 (talk) 09:42, 6 June 2014 (UTC)