Brian May: I think most astronomers would tell you that the universe is not infinite, that it’s very, very big, and it’s impossible to see it all. It’s actually finite, but without boundaries.
That’s guitarist Brian May of the band Queen.
May is returning to his Ph.D. studies in astronomy. And he’s helped write a book called Bang! The Complete History of the Universe. It traces the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to a future long past when our sun becomes a red giant and consumes the Earth.
Brian May told us how our universe can be something that is finite, but also not have any boundaries.
Brian May: We have a neat little analogy in the book, which is an ant crawling on the surface of a football, I don’t know if you’ve come across this. It’s a fairly crude analogy, but it gives you some idea. This ant, assuming it can’t jump off, it’ll crawl over the surface of the football as long as it likes, and it will never come to a boundary. But the surface that it’s crawling on is nevertheless finite. And that’s kind of the view, translated into three dimensions of space, and one of time. That’s more or less the view that most cosmologists have of the universe at the moment.
May added that the story of the universe’s origin and ultimate destiny should be fun and accessible to all.
Our thanks today to Research Corporation.
Our thanks to:
CBE, ARCS, FRAS
is a founding member of Queen, a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer, and performer. Brian was forced to abandon his PhD studies on interplanetary dust at Imperial College, London when Queen’s popularity first exploded, but has always retained his keen interest in astronomy, and is a regular contributor to The Sky at Night.
Jorge Salazar has conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists in the process of creating science content for EarthSky. He also helps host the 90-second EarthSky podcasts. Jorge has a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He knows a lot about a lot of different things. For EarthSky, he has explored subjects as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. His penetrating research style, poetic writing, and ability to track down and speak with Nobel prize-winning laureates, all make him a huge asset to EarthSky.