1

I have always been intrigued by cosmology and the idea that there is a possibility that absolutely nothing exists beyond our universe.

Now I know that there are many theories regarding the universe (multiverses, etc.). But if you assume that there is nothing beyond our universe, then what would happen if you figure out a way to travel faster than anything else with so much force that you are able to outpace the current expansion of the universe and break free from its bounds and go beyond into "nothingness" so to speak. What would happen in this scenario?

Would you cease to exist or could you actually exist in nothingness?

  • 1
    Do you know at what speed is the universe expanding ? See Metric expansion of space – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 6 '14 at 20:11
  • Nice one @MauroALLEGRANZA - "The ultimate topology of space is a posteriori - something which in principle must be observed - as there are no constraints that can simply be reasoned out (in other words there can not be any a priori constraints) on how the space in which we live is connected or whether it wraps around on itself as a compact space." (Topology of expanding space) – Chris Degnen Apr 7 '14 at 11:49
  • Why is your question tagged "existentialism"? Cosmologic topics are quite away from it. – ttnphns Jan 18 '18 at 7:45
3

Often, the universe is considered to be everything by definition. Physicists would use this kind of definition but make it weaker by speaking of the observable universe, i.e. the part who's existence we are sure about.

A)            Universe: Everything there is
B) Observable universe: Everything that can be known about (right now)

If the first case, there is nothing that exists outside the universe and there would be nothing you could do about it. You could never get "outside" of it, because it always contains you, no matter where you are in (or not in, for that matter) space-time.

It sounds more like you are talking about the observable universe, which may or may not have nothing outside of it. It's not generally considered practical to get outside of the observable universe, and scientist often use "universe" instead of "observable universe" because they are trained to avoid speculating on things that are thought to be unknowable.

This is important, because there are now two meanings of nothing, so that when I say "there is nothing beyond the universe" it can mean

1) There is no X such that X is outside the universe (from A)
2) There could be something outside the universe, but it is inconsequential (from B)

This makes the language quite tricky, generally "nothing that is P" refers "there is no X such that X is P", nothing is not a thing. Yet, if we are talking about the observable universe, the nothingness outside the universe might actually refer to something. Leading to a very strange usage of the word 'nothing' as "things which we don't know about". This is a source of confusion.

If there is actual nothingness (1) then you are asking about the impossible. If there is "epistemological nothingness" (2) then the best we can say is "who knows!" (though the cosmological principle would suggest that it would be very much the same as here)

Would you cease to exist or could you actually exist in nothingness?

In actual nothingness (1), you would cease to exist (though its better to say that you can't go there), in "epistemological nothingness" (2) you can go there, but we can only guess as to what it is like.

But if you assume that there is nothing beyond our universe

Then you are restricting the answer to actual nothingness (1).

2

The question is based on a misconception of the geometry of a finite universe. A finite universe is not a 3-D ball but a 3-sphere. Therefore, if you could "outpace the current expansion of the universe", you would not "break free from its bounds" because a 3-sphere has no boundaries, but would eventually return to the starting point from the opposite direction.

Just as, when your movement is restricted to the Earth's surface (approximately a 2-sphere), your starting to travel along a meridian will eventually take you to the starting point from the opposite direction.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.