Are virtual particles implicated in the expansion of the universe?

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Offline thedoc

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Margaret Feaster  asked the Naked Scientists:
This is not very well expressed, so please bear with me!

One theory is that dark energy causes the expansion of space and one theory is that dark energy is the result of the tiny particles popping into and out of existence in "empty" space. If empty space is a fabric made up of space/time and a particle pops into existence (energy converts to mass), does it displace the existing space/time that previously occupied that particular spot, thereby pushing that bit of space/time aside and then that bit pushes on the adjoining bit bit which pushes on the adjoining bit etc. thereby "expanding" space/time? -

AND THEN whenthat same particle pops back out of existence (goes from mass to energy) does it leave a hole where it used to be? -

AND THEN does the surrounding space/time "flow" back into the "hole" left by the departing particle or does the "hole" just stay there with nothing (not even space/time) in it? -

OR does the departing particle, since it is being converted from mass back to energy contribute that energy to "pushing" the space/time surrounding the place where the particle used to be, expanding it even further?

Also, since when we talk about things moving away from from each other (space between them growing larger) it is a way of saying that the distance is increasing and distanceis traditionally based on a unit of measure like, for example, inches, which is normally fixed, maybe nothing is actually moving away from each other, maybe only time is changing.

For instance, beyond the pull of gravity, which apparently overcomes this urge to run away from each other, maybe the galaxies and stars which are 100 to the XINCHES away and right now it would take a Billion years to get to them would still be only 100 to the XINCHES away but it would take a Billion years and 1 hour to get to them....

On a smaller scale, ignoring gravity, right now my pencil is 4 inches away from my hand and takes me 2 seconds to reach, but an hour from now even though the pencil is still only 4 inches away from my hand it takes me 2.2 seconds to reach it?

i.e. hold distance constant but change the "speed" (amount of time to get from A to B)..... ?

I understand that the concept of time is supposed to be man-made and not "real" so what does this do to the concept of Space-Time?

Good luck on me understanding your answers to the above!

Thanks for responding; I am a long-time listener & admire your expertise (and patience) greatly.

Margaret Feaster
Very Amateur Cosmologist

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 13/08/2012 15:30:01 by _system »