Space-Time Fabric

Let’s assume that the space-time fabric is situated within our entire closed universe and matter is scattered throughout like small insects trapped on a giant spider web.  And let’s also assume that the space-time fabric along with the matter is in constant motion, either accelerating because of gravity since they are the same thing (Einstein’s principle of equivalence), or decelerating because of entropy, or shrinking because of dark energy, which quite possibly may be found in the quantum world.

So, finally let’s assume that dark energy is scattered about everywhere in the universe, fighting to overcome the original expansion from the Big Bang and matter and dark matter’s gravitational attraction in an effort to pull everything in back on itself to finally collapse into a Big Crunch.  And mathematics tells us that dark energy has about three times as much force as dark matter and all visible matter, so shrinking may well be the strongest force in the universe.

From our perspective, the matter probably would appear to be expanding at increasing speeds.  Yet, if the fabric were alternating back and forth between expanding and contracting, we might not be able to recognize the difference between expansion and contraction from our perspective.  It might look exactly the same to us on the planet earth.

The matter in the universe would warp the space-time fabric and perhaps, vice-versa, but we would not detect these variations from our perspective.  So, what can we surmise from our perspective?

Let’s again assume that the Big Bang was the start of expansion of the space-time fabric when all matter was very close together and should have slowed down time.  As the space-time fabric expanded, it would have also expanded the distance between mass in the universe, thus causing time to speed up.  Let’s assume that we would not detect this time difference, just as we would not detect it in a spaceship traveling toward Mars.

So depending on our position and speed, time can appear to move faster or slower to us relative to others in a different part of space-time.  The phenomenon is called “gravitational time dilation.”  In a nutshell, it just means time moves slower as gravity increases.

A time reversal may simply be caused when the expansion away from masses becomes a contraction back to an increase in gravity from the narrowing of the distance between the matter in the universe.  Time would initially move faster as everything expanded, but would move slower as everything contracted.

Again, we could not detect this time reversal or the increase or decrease in time.  However, we could see the effect of time going backwards by examining ancient galaxies, whose light passed by us billions of years ago.  When we can actually see those galaxies which existed billions of years ago, it is only because we are in a time reversal headed back toward the Big Bang, which will be more aptly named the “Big Crunch” for our future.  Otherwise, we could not see the sight of these old galaxies, which would have zipped by at the speed of light never to be seen again.  Just count your lucky stars that you cannot see the Big Bang… yet.

Marsquakes

You are very familiar with earthquakes.  Well, welcome to marsquakes.  Scientists used to believe that Mars died billions of years ago, along with any potential for activity, including seismic activity, deep within its core.  However, they are not so sure anymore.

“It’s likely that there may be marsquakes today, but seismic monitoring will be required to know for sure,” said marsquake study leader David Ferrill of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. “Until then, it’s just scientific speculation.”   He continued, “With NASA striving to take humans back to the Moon and onto Mars and beyond, understanding the geologic activity of the planet can aid in future mission planning.”

Ferrill, who has an office at the University of Texas, examined images from satellites orbiting Mars which show strings of depressions lined up in a row.  Scientists wondered if the pit chains were either collapsed lava tubes or sinkholes carved by early water flows.  But they resembled pit chains in Iceland that formed along a fault based on seismic activity.  Scientists asked if these pits on Mars also could be created by seismic activity.

Using the terrestrial observations, along with lab work and mathematical modeling that took into account the different gravity of the two planets, Ferrill’s team found that the pit chains in Iceland and on Mars were likely formed by the same process.

“The general shape of faults is similar on both planets, however the lower Martian gravity produces steeper fault segments that extend down deeper into the crust than they do on Earth,” he said. “This allows for a larger void space near the surface into which loose surface material can collapse.”

Earth has plate tectonics as multiple plates scattered around the world move like glaciers, but over millions of years create significant seismic activity on earth.  Mars, which may have only one plate covering the planet and which is about 30 miles deep, does not have the same mechanism available for volcanic activity, but scientists are starting to wonder if Mars has tectonic activity that differs from earth’s.

“Although tectonically different from Earth, we see extensive evidence of faulting on Mars,” Ferrill said. “That means that when the planet was more tectonically active, faulting could have produced marsquakes similar to the earthquakes here on Earth.”

According to recent studies, Mars does have a core that is mostly iron and is partly molten.  This suggests that the red planet has not fully cooled following its formation about 4.5 billion years ago.  Even though volcanoes on the red planet appear to be dormant, scientists are not certain anymore.

Theorists expect the gradual cooling of Mars would have slowed tectonic activity over the past 3.5 billion years. Yet some think there could still be dozens of temblors a year with a magnitude of 3.5 or greater.  The cooling could cause contraction of the crust, which could cause seismic events at the surface.

“Because Mars is similar to the earth and the moon, both of which have seismic events, it is likely that Mars experiences marsquakes as well,” Ferrill said.