Tag Archives: physics

Why LESS Sensitive Tests Might Be Better



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This video written & produced in collaboration with Aatish Bhatia,

This video is about how cheap, fast, and LESS sensitive rapid antigen tests might be better for screening (& maybe surveillance) than PCR COVID tests due to the nature of contagiousness/infectiveness at various points on the viral load trajectory of symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID sars-COV-2 carriers.

REFERENCES

Thanks to Daniel Larremore for feedback on early versions of this video

Rapid Antigen Testing:

COVID-19 testing: One size does not fit all.

Rethinking Covid-19 Test Sensitivity — A Strategy for Containment.

Test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for COVID-19 screening.

The effectiveness of population-wide, rapid antigen test based screening in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence in Slovakia. (pre-print, not yet peer reviewed)

Effective Testing and Screening for Covid-19.

Brown University & Harvard University modeling of COVID-19 testing shortfall.

Fast Coronavirus Tests are coming.

Open letter signed by epidemiologists and infectious disease experts supporting widespread & frequent rapid antigen testing for COVID-19:

More information on various COVID-19 tests:

Field performance and public health response using the BinaxNOW Rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen detection assay during community-based testing.

Performance of an Antigen-Based Test for Asymptomatic and Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Testing at Two University Campuses.

Asymptomatic Spread:

People without symptoms spread virus in more than half of cases, CDC model finds

(More than half of all) SARS-CoV-2 Transmission From People Without COVID-19 Symptoms.

Three Quarters of People with SARS-CoV-2 Infection are Asymptomatic: Analysis of English Household Survey Data.

Viral Load Curve:

SARS-CoV-2 viral dynamics in acute infections. (pre-print, not yet peer reviewed)

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Multiverse Theory: Are We A Part Of Infinite Parallel Realities?



Is our Universe just one of many in an infinite, ever-expanding multiverse? What exactly is the multiverse? Is it just a speculation of us humans or could it be that our universe is a part of a multiverse? In this article we will discuss these questions.
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We have used the theory of multiple universes in cosmology, physics, philosophy, astronomy, religion, science fiction, comic books and fantasy. But we will look at the scientific aspect of it. We will only focus on the evidences and facts and observations made by astronomers and then draw a conclusion on the topic. 
The three dimensional world which we witness in our daily lives may just be an illusion where there is no distinction between past, present and future. But how is it possible? How can we be so wrong about something so familiar? These questions bother almost all astronomers and physicist. It’s a groundbreaking possibility that opens up a whole different world for us. We will discuss an important Question. What if alternative Universes are being formed all the time? The Big Bang might not be a unique event. We might live In a duplicate parallel reality among the many other parallel realities.  Somewhere there’s a duplicate of you, me and everyone else. Are we in a Universe or a Multiverse? 
Uniqueness is an idea so usual that no one questions it. A recent picture of the cosmos is coming to light, where nothing is unique. This recent picture challenges the notion of Uniqueness, in which duplicates of things are unavoidable. There might be duplicates, not only of objects but of me, you and everyone else.  And if it’s right, where are they? Why haven’t we seen them? There was a time when the word Universe meant everything that existed, the notion of more than one universe seemed impossible. But if we go beyond our Milky Way and even beyond the distant galaxies and beyond the end of the observable Universe, we might find that our Universe is not alone. There might be other Universes, in-fact, there might be new universes being born all the time might have stars and even a planet that looks familiar. We may be live in an expanding sea of Multiverse! Some of these might not have the basic requirements for the formation of matter. Others might have planets, stars and Galaxies that look familiar to us but with a slight difference. And if there are many other Universes out there, some might be even identical to ours except for the slightest Details. For Example, in any other parallel reality, it might be possible I am the Prime Minister of India. And if the multiverse exists, we will have to encounter a lot of possibilities that might exist. There could be other places where duplicates of me would exist and would think, act and speak in the same way as I do, but with some slight differences. 
Is it science, is it religion, is it Philosophy? As a Physicist we should not and we don’t ask these questions. We follow the logic, and the logic leads there. There was a time when people thought Earth was at the centre of the Cosmos and everything else that exists revolved around us. Then scientists like Galileo and Copernicus showed us it’s the sun that’s at the centre of our solar system. And our solar system is just a little neighbourhood in our Gigantic Galaxy. And our galaxy, it’s among the billions of galaxies that make up our universe. These ideas sounded shocking and outrageous when they were first suggested, but now we don’t even think to question these ideas. The idea of different alternate universes or the multiverse might be the same.  It just requires a radical change in our perspective of the cosmos. 
So let’s talk about where did the idea of Multiverse came from? What are the evidences of its existence? Well, a lot of astonishing discoveries and theories have suggested we may be a part of the multiverse. The very first among them is the Big Bang, the theory of the origin of our universe. According to this theory, our Universe began 13.8 billion years ago in a very hot and dense, violen* explosio* of a very tiny primordial nugget. Over millions and millions of years the universe cooled down and it lead to the formation of Stars, galaxies and planets. The universe is still expanding because of that explosio*. But there’s one major piece of this theory that’s missing. The Big Bang tells nothing about what caused the explosio*, throwing everything outwards. What caused the BANG? So, what furled the violen* explosio*? What force could set everything moving outwards? 
In 1979, a young physicist Alan Guth laid the foundation of the idea of the multiverse.

Written By Prayag Pandey

#InsaneCuriosity #MultiverseTheory

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Artificial Gravity: Why We Need It, How We'll Do It



For those who watched, have you ever noticed that Captain Kirk is standing still on the Enterprise? Why is that? I mean, if you are in the deep space, far from any planet’s gravitational attraction, you should be floating because of the absence of gravity. Captain Kirk is standing with his feet on the Enterprise’s deck. He seems to weight the same that he would weight here on Earth, and also all the objects on the Hermes – as the interplanetary craft in the Martian is dubbed – are behaving as if they were in your room, and not in a spaceship travelling in the deep space. 
Something in the Enterprise and the Hermes is simulating and creating gravity. 
How is it possible? 
We know that Star Trek is sci-fi. But what about real life? Is it possible to recreate artificial gravity? And why do we need artificial gravity?


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Imagine that you’re inside a vehicle — or another machine — and you are spinning around so fast that the force presses your body against the wall or seat. As you spin faster and faster than pressure forcing you against the wall increases (and conversely it decreases as the spin slows down). Sure you’ve experienced it before. The weight feels exactly like the force of gravity that keeps your body grounded to the earth.
Think about it. You may have experienced it in your childhood, when you visited for the first time an amusement park ride, with a classic Rotor Ride that has produced a great deal of joy since the middle of the 19th century. Did you remember it? How was it? I remember mine. It was so cool! But then I vomited. By the way, a handful of people, including astronauts, experience the same phenomenon in a human-rated centrifuge, a machine that spins to produce these high “G forces,” also called acceleration. They experience this G-force aboard high-performance aircraft during high speed turns, and during launches into space and when spacecraft rapidly slow as they reenter Earth’s atmosphere.
 
Now I want to ask you a question: have you ever heard of a reduced-gravity aircraft?
A reduced-gravity aircraft is a type of fixed-wing aircraft that provides brief near-weightless environments for training astronauts, conducting research and making gravity-free movie shots.
Versions of such aeroplanes were operated by the NASA Reduced Gravity Research Program, and one is currently operated by the Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration Programmes of the European Space Agency. The unofficial nickname “vomit comet” became popular among those who experienced their operation.
 But let’s go back to the Rotor Ride. 
This type of rotation produces gravity — artificial gravity to be precise. It provides weight to your body! You can’t distinguish the artificial-gravity weight from the weight on Earth: to your bones and your muscles, it wiìould be pretty much the same!
Why haven’t we built ourselves a centripetal space station yet?
One problem is the size. In fact, the scale of such a craft would pose some (big) problems. According to physics, the smaller the spacecraft is, the faster it has to rotate, so if you’re going to generate gravity, it’s got to be done with a large spacecraft that spins very slowly. The bigger the disk, the slower you can rotate it. 
Are NASA and others researching the possibility to travel in an artificial gravity spacecraft?
The answer is yes. Since the 1960s, NASA scientists have been considering the prospect of artificial gravity by way of rotation. However, the effort, funding and overall enthusiasm have waxed and waned through the decades. One example is the Nautilus-X project.
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#InsaneCuriosity #ArtificialGravity #Physics

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What If You Ate a Brick of Dry Ice?

What If You Ate a Brick of Dry Ice?

Dry ice is one of the coldest substances on Earth. This is what it does to a flower. And check out what it does to this action figure. Now, what would happen if you swallowed dry ice? What would it do to your skin? How much could you eat before it hurts you? And how would it affect your stomach?

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What If We Could See Through a Black Hole?

What If We Could See Through a Black Hole?

Get more insightful information about black holes with Pr. Clifford Johnson:

This star is about to transform into a black hole. And we’re about to travel inside it to see what’s on the other side. The only problem is that we’ll never be able to report our findings back to Earth. Because once you go inside a black hole, there’s no coming back. So maybe there’s a better way to find out what’s on the other side. Could we use a special telescope? How would light behave inside a black hole? And why could the first image of a black hole provide all the answers?

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Einstein's Theory of Relativity Made Easy!

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Made Easy!

From what it is, to its impact on the world at large, join us as we explore Einstein’s Theory of Relativity made easy, and explain it so everyone can understand it. (Simplified)

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So where do we start with something as big and as complicated as the Theory of Relativity? I’m sure some of you wouldn’t even know what it is outside of its name, which is fine. But I’m sure you do know the man who came up with the idea, Albert Einstein. Einstein is revered as one of the smartest people to ever live, and he helped shape how we perceive both our world and our universe. So it might surprise you that this very brilliant man once started off as nothing more than a patent clerk. No, really, he did, and that’s part of the origin story to the Theory of Relativity.
Because one day, after doing his work at the patent office, he went on a trolley car to go home. And he would do this day after day after day. This is important because while he was on that car, he would think about the universe at large. He would ask himself questions and try to figure out the answers as best he could with the information he had. And one day, he was going away from a clock tower when he asked what would happen if the car he was on was going away from the clock tower…at the speed of light.
This may seem like an odd question to ask, but lightspeed travel is something that scientists are honestly trying to achieve right now, and these questions were truly the building blocks of this really happening. Anyway, back to the clock tower. Einstein theorized, as well as realized, that if he was moving the speed of light (which if you don’t know is 299,792,458 meters per second), the hands on the clock tower (meaning the minute hand and the hour hand) would quite literally appear to stop in place.
But, he also knew that while he himself was traveling at the speed of light and seeing everything stop more or less, everyone who was at the clock tower, and seeing things in “normal time” would not see them stop. The clock tower and its hands would keep ticking along as if nothing wrong.
Yet in this experiment, for Albert Einstein, time had literally slowed down, and it was at this moment that the “light bulb” went off in his head. Because it was through this experiment that he realized that if you go faster and faster through space, you’re actually causing time to go slower around you. But how was this possible if time was quite literally a constant force in the universe?
To try and answer this, Einstein would look to some of the other fathers of science to try and figure out the missing points in his equation. For example, he looked at the three laws of motion via Sir Isaac Newton. Newton notes that while objects do move at a certain speed, their values are never an absolute. Mainly because every speed we go at is based on a force imparted on something, or relative to something else. Such as how a car can go 65 miles per hour on a highway…but that’s only because the ground and friction ALLOW it to do so. No friction on the road? You’re not going that speed. Thus why he notes that every speed has to have “in respect to” another force or object that is allowing or perceiving that object’s speed.
However, in contrast, there is James Clark Maxwell, the father of electromagnetism, who notes that of all the things in the universe, it is light that is fixed. And as noted, light goes 299,792,458 meters per second. That will never change. That speed is another constant force in the universe. Anyone, anywhere in the world, or even anywhere in the universe will be able to determine that the speed of light is the same, it won’t change, and that’s part of the reason why the universe works like it does, because the speed of light is constant, right?
But therein lies the problem, or at least, Einstein realized that this was a problem. Because Newton said that no speed in the universe could be an absolute. But then Maxwell counters this by saving the speed of light is ALWAYS a constant. Which means that these two very universal and very accepted pieces of science are at a contradiction. Which is something you never want in the world of science, trust me.
If you’re still not getting the full picture of why this is a problem, here’s another thought experiment from Einstein to help explain it.
Imagine you are at a train station, and you are standing out on the platform when a storm comes. Then, out of the blue, two lightning bolts strike on either side of you. Because of your position in the middle of these lightning bolts, you perceive them at the exact same time, and the light reaches you at that same time.

Theory Of Relativity: Einstein’s Twin Paradox!

#InsaneCuriosity #Theory of Relativity #PhysicsHowTheUniverseWorks

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What If We Settled on an Exoplanet?

What If We Settled on an Exoplanet?

Are you looking for a change of scenery? Are you tired of boring old Earth?
How would you like a new home away from home? Really far away from home. Like outside our Solar System far. What exoplanet would suit us best? Are there any pros? And more importantly, what are the cons?

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Earth's Magnetic Field Reversal: When Will Happen And Consequences!

Earth’s Magnetic Field Reversal: When Will Happen And Consequences!

What Really Happens When Earth’s Magnetic Field Flips?
The Earth has a magnetic field that, like a magnet, goes from the north pole to the south pole. This field is caused by complex processes inside of the Earth’s molten core. This magnetic field is much more important than you think. Not only does it help us find north with a compass, it also protects us and all our technology from dangerous cosmic radiation. Many animals depend on it for their migrations and dogs apparently align themselves along a north south angle when they poo* . Like all magnets, the Earth’s magnetic field has a north and south pole, so what would happen if they would flip?
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First, let’s lay down some definitions. The Earth rotates around its geographic north Pole, this pole would take massive amounts of energy, akin to a giant asteroid, to move and generally stays where it is. In a globe, the geographic north pole is marked by the top part of the stick that connects the globe to the mount. The bottom part is the south pole of course.

The magnetic poles are the two places where the magnetic field is vertical to the Earth’s surface. Near the geometric north pole the field will point vertically down, and near the geometric south pole the field will point vertically up. This means that your compass needle would not point forward on the north pole, but downwards toward the ground. On the south pole it would point straight up into the sky. Due to historical shenanigans the magnetic south pole is actually at the geographical north pole and vice versa. This is because we once decided that the north-part of a magnet on a compass, points to the geographic north pole. Since opposite sides attract, that means that the magnetic south pole is at the geographical south pole.

Unlike their geometric counterparts, the magnetic poles are wandering points. This has to do with the fact that our Earth’s core is not a solid bar magnet, but rather a very dense magnetic liquid. Changes in this liquid affect the shape, strength and orientation of the magnetic field, which can have some major effects for us.

Direct measurements of the magnetic field have been ongoing for over 4 centuries now, and in this time we have mapped the path of the magnetic north pole very accurately. It wanders around a lot, but it has always stayed close to the geographic north pole. A flip would require the magnetic pole it to move down past the equator, towards the other pole, so that a compass would now point south instead of north.

However, if we go back much further in time then we can see that the magnetic field has flipped 183 times in the last 83 million years. That means that we should have one flip roughly each 450000 years. However, these same measurements indicate that the last flip happened around 780000 years ago. That is almost twice as long as the average, which implies that we are long overdue for the next flip. Perhaps it is already happening!

How do scientists know this, you might ask. For the last 400 years we could measure it the location of the magnetic poles directly. The rough process is to compare compasses on different locations and triangulate the location of the poles. But before that we did not have the technology nor the knowledge to measure these things. The way that we managed to find out the location of the magnetic poles further back is by observing particles that were somehow ‘frozen’ into place during a certain time and point to the position that the poles had when they were still mobile. If we find a 1000 year old magnetic particle that has not moved since then, we can tell where the poles are based on its orientation. The scientists basically look for very old compasses.

The most popular source for these particles are cooled volcanic flows, which have very accurate measurements but of course do not happen on a continuous basis. Alternatively scientists look for these frozen particles in sedimentary deposits on ocean floors. These stack in a continuous process, but the problem there is that it is very hard to date the layers of sediment accurately. A new and very promising method of determining the past magnetic field is based on the observation of stalagmites. These are rock structures that are formed over the course of thousands of years by a constant dripping in a cave. Magnetic particles that float around in the cave get caught by the drop and become part of the structure.

This method is very promising because stalagmites form in a very controlled manner and are easy to date, it is a destructive process however and we have a limited amount of them.

#InsaneCuriosity #Earth’sMagneticField #WhatWillHappen

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What is the Great Attractor?

What is the Great Attractor?

Is there anything in the universe that’s just so eccentric, so breathtaking, and so beyond our understanding, that it gets a badass name? That’s what we’ll find out together in today’s episode! What is the Great Attractor?
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Okay, let’s do a bit of thought experiment to kick off the show.

I bet everybody here has been to the mall, right? Have you ever experienced a time when you are walking, and suddenly, you saw a bunch of people moving towards something?

Now, you don’t know what it is. You don’t know if it’s some food stall that’s really hitting the sales, or a new product being sold. You just know that it’s pulling people towards it. And to top it all off, you, with your ever curious mind, gets drawn to it as well! So, before you know it, you start walking.

It’s crazy, right? You don’t know why people are gathering, and yet you are attracted to that place where you’re absolutely clueless about what’s there to see, or even if what’s there could harm you. You just know that you’re curious and you want to find out. Something that you don’t understand is too charismatic for you to resist.

That, my dear friends, is the characteristic of our topic for today. A weird thing in space that is so bizarre, so unimaginably weird, and so difficult to grasp, that all we can do is to give it an appropriate name, The Great Attractor.

I hope we can say that The Great Attractor is a gigantic floating Harry Styles or Captain Ri from CLOY lightyears away in space from us, but that’s the problem. We don’t exactly know what it is. But we don’t actually know, so why not? It may actually be Henry Cavill in space.

Is he still popular now? I’m not keeping up with Hollywood stuff. Moving on.

Okay, here’s what we know about it so far. We don’t know what it is, but we know that it’s there. We’re sure it’s there, and we can see signs that it’s there.

It’s like having a gigantic stuffed toy in a very, very dark room. We can touch the fur, and we can feel how soft it is, maybe even smell it a bit, but that’s all the information we have. We’re not sure if it’s really a stuffed toy. It could be something else entirely.

So what are our observations leading us to think that it’s there? What are our touches to the fur and our sniffs to it?

We know that Hubble’s observations in 1929 lead us to believe that the universe is actually expanding, after he realized that a lot of galaxies are moving away from us. And not just moving away, it’s moving at an extremely fast pace faster than the speed of light.

This phenomenon is now something that we know as the Hubble flow: the movement of the galaxies due to the expansion of the universe.

To make that more visually appealing, say that you have a balloon that hasn’t been blown up yet. To add a little more playfulness, let’s say you decided to draw some random dots on it.

Now, you can measure the distance between the dots you made in the balloon, right? Okay, say at this point, you find a pump and you start blowing air into the balloon. Naturally, the balloon expands. But what else is happening here? The dots you drew earlier are now moving apart from one another. If earlier, one dot is a centimeter from another, now it’s maybe 5 centimeters.

The dot didn’t move, but it’s now farther away from the other because where it’s drawn at expanded.

The universe does this as well. It expands in a way similar to what we described in the balloon analogy. The galaxies are moving apart from one another at some velocity, so we expect them to be farther and farther from one another at a constant rate, right?

Oddly, this is not what scientists observe to be actually happening. Instead, they see a lot of galaxies seemingly gravitate towards a region in space. Even our very own Milky Way galaxy! The Great Attractor!

What scientists are sure of is that whatever it is, it’s definitely one powerful gravitational anomaly.

So how exactly did scientists arrive at this conclusion? That we are heading something so mysterious and puzzling?

Well, firstly, there’s this thing called expectation. The universe is expanding at an astoundingly fast rate of 2.2 million kilometers per hour!

So keeping this in mind, then, if we try to measure the speed at which a nearby galaxy is moving away from us, say, Andromeda, then we ought to get that speed right? Apparently not. This is one of the first odd measurements scientists found.

#InsaneCuriosity #TheGreatAttractor #HowTheUniverseWorks

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What Caused The Big Bang?

What Caused The Big Bang?

The Universe began not with a whimper but with a Bang! Everything in this Universe and the Universe itself came into existence because of the commonly told Big Bang.
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It all started when in 1922, a Russian Meteorologist, Alexander Friedmann proposed that the universe might be expanding. In a very rare blunder, Albert Einstein, when came to know about this, rejected his theory and with his erroneous calculations proved him wrong. Five years earlier, Einstein had published the Static model of the universe and was very convinced that it was correct. He claimed Friedmann’s theory to be violating the conservation of energy. After eight months, however, Einstein admitted his mistake and published a retraction. The Equation of General Relativity allows for the possibility of an Expanding Universe.
Today this Big Bang theory is an accepted idea of cosmology. The Expansion of the Universe was first observed by Vesto Slipher in the Early 1920s and in 1929, Edwin Hubble who had access to some world’s largest telescopes gave the Hubble Law. According to it, every distant galaxy is moving away from each other with a velocity proportional to its distance. The farther away a galaxy is, greater is the velocity with which it moves away. Then Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected a background of microwave radiation known as the Cosmic Microwave Background(CMB) radiations today, coming to Earth from all the directions. It was an afterglow of the primordial, hot and dense Fireball. Today, with the data collected from the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite fits perfectly with the Big Bang and that it accounted for the light nuclear isotopes like deuterium, hydrogen, helium-3 and others. The Big Bang theory is a success but in its traditional form as it was proposed is incomplete. Though it’s called the Big Bang Theory, it does not tell us anything about the Bang! It’s the theory of what happened after the Big Bang, describing how the universe cooled and expanded, and how mater formed different Stars and Galaxies. The theory does not tell us anything about the underlying physics of this explosio*. It not even mentions what caused the Bang, what Bange*, why it Bange* and what happened before the Bang! The inflationary cosmos explains this and we will discuss the physics behind it in this video.
Could the Big Bang have been caused by the gigantic bag of TNT, or a thermonuclear explosio*? Or maybe a gigantic ball of matter collided with a gigantic ball of anti-matter. In fact, none of these events are responsible for the Big Bang and start of our Universe. The Big Bang had two very special and distinct features that differentiated it from any typical explanation.
First, On large scales Big Bang was far more homogenous than any ordinary explosio*. We must clarify you first while discussing homogeneity, that the Universe is inhomogeneous in many ways. New York differs from California and so are the Stars, galaxies and the clusters scattered through the space in a complex pattern. Cosmologically, these are all small scale. On a large scale, like if we divide the Universe into cubes of 300 million light years or more. We would find that each cube resembles the others in all its properties like mass density, light output, etc. The biggest evidence of it is the Cosmic Microwave Background(CMB)  Radiations and data from the COBE satellite. We would need a brief history about the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation to explain the uniformity of our Universe. The Early Universe was boiling and dense and it would rip apart the electrons from the atoms which resulted in a plasma that filled the space. This  plasma was very opaque. So the protons making up the Cosmic Microwave Background radiations, were absorbed and re-emitted constantly. After about 300,000 years the universe cooled to form a transparent plasma of neutral atoms. Since then, the photons have travelled on a straight path and provide us an image of a universe that was 300,000 years old.
Normally such uniformity is easy to explain, because anything comes to a uniform temperature when left undisturbed for a long time. But in the Big Bang theory, the universe develops quickly, leaving no time for the universe to evolve and uniformity to be established. For the sake of discussion lets pretend that the universe contains blue creatures, each having a furnace and refrigerator and have the task to create a uniform temperature.
#InsaneCuriosity #TheBigBang

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