Nautilus

Is Our Universe Like Oil & Vinegar or Homogenized Milk?

Is our Universe inhomogeneous, lumpy and uneven on many size scales, like oil droplets in water?via Shutterstock
 

In the earliest moments after the Big Bang, the Universe was a turbulent mess, a high-temperature stew of quantum fluctuations. As with turbulence in water, the fluctuations acted at every level: If you could imagine observing the primordial chaos, at whatever level of magnification you used, from the tiniest to the largest, the cosmos was equally messy.

As the Universe expanded, turbulence smoothed out into uniformity. The homogeneity on all levels translated into nearly uniform density on the scale of the entire cosmos. But viewed on a smaller scale, in places where the amount of hydrogen gas happened to be slightly greater, the clumps coalesced into galaxies.

That’s according to the standard version of cosmology, but it’s not been proven beyond a doubt. An alternative

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