The darkness of the universe: Insufficient light or insufficient matter?

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The darkness of the universe: Insufficient light or insufficient matter?

The darkness of the universe: Insufficient light or insufficient matter?

Contemplation of the various images of our universe reveals that the distinctive darkness of the universe is the result of far more than its vastness and emptiness, and that the visibility of light is not simply due to its reflection from our retinas. In these images, we see cosmic objects—those that emit light and those only reflect light—appearing amid absolute darkness. During a total solar eclipse, for instance, the gases that make up the outermost atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, are illuminated; but just beyond the corona, the space is dark, although the Sun’s light is indisputably traveling through that area.

The space that separates the Earth and the Moon offers another good example: the Sun’s light has no effect of illumination throughout this area. It is only when this light reaches the Moon that its illuminating effect is “turned on.” Similarly, the space beyond the Moon, which is undoubtedly filled with the Sun’s light, appears dark. The light traveling through it remains, in effect, undetected, until it illuminates the surface of a planet, a comet, or any another object that may be traveling through this area of space.

Wouldn’t these examples suggest that where there is matter in the universe, there is illumination, rather than where there is light? Wouldn’t they further suggest that the visibility of light cannot be attributed only to its existence and subsequent reflection from our retinas?

In the photographs taken by astronauts on the surface of the Moon, a likely affirmative answer to these two questions can be found. In these photos, which were taken during the Moon’s two-week-long daytime, we see the astronauts against a dark background of space, while the Sun illuminates the ground on which they are standing. If the Moon had an atmosphere through which the Sun’s radiation had traveled, the astronauts would have appeared against an illuminated background. But such matter—gases for an atmosphere—was not found, and so the effect—illumination—did not occur.

Outer space offers further examples of how the effect of illumination occurs where there is matter. In the deep-field photographs of the Hubble Space Telescope, where collections of gases occupy a region of space, we can easily observe illuminated hazy areas amid the distinctive darkness; and, if the emitted radiation of stars meets a dense region of collected gases and dust, the illuminating effect creates what are known as reflecting nebulae. 

These examples, alongside James Clerk Maxwell’s equation that proved that all forms of electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light, suggest that light may be a visible effect—not a visible form—of electromagnetic radiation. In other words, light occurs only when this radiation travels through a medium, such as the gases that make up Earth’s atmosphere or the gases of the Sun’s corona, and where this radiation makes contact with a surface.

Accordingly, we may conclude that the darkness of the universe is not due to its vastness, emptiness, or a lack of sources of light. Instead, it is dark only because all of the radiation emitted by the countless billions of stars found within does not travel through any medium that can “turn on” the stars’ effect of illumination. In other words, if we could fill space with air, our universe would be illuminated.

Illuminating, FMM. I always end up taking several large leaps of faith when I try to understand these things, not helped when the answers to many questions come back as algebra. A weakness on my part. Light is a fascinating phenomenon. Just as interesting is how animal (and plant) life have evolved to use it. I totally get sun gods.

Parson Thru

Your last paragraph demonstrates your confusion, you say two opposite things, seemingly unaware that they're two opposite things. You say the lack of light is not due to the universe's emptiness, then you say if we could fill it we could fill it we could see more light. The latter is of course true, but irrelevant, there's nothing to fill the universe with.


The universe is much, much bigger than you think. You seem to think that a billion billion stars is a lot, but it's nada, nothing, diddly squat in a universe 30 billion light years by 30 billion light years by 30 billion light years. You're confusing the light from a match 2,000 miles away with the Wembly Statium floodlights shoved into your downstairs toilet while you're having a dump. It's not confusing that the toilet is brighter, it's not some mystery that only you understand, it's just a basic brightness of source v. distance away thing. 


If there is a creator god, that god created nothing, upon nothing, upon nothing, upon nothing, upon nothing. The universe is nothing. The exceptions to that statement are such a tiny, minescule proportion of the seemingly infinite expanse of vaccuum that they really don't merit mention. 


Ah well, you know what Dubya said, Terrence, in his infinite wisdom - space is big.

Along with what we call visible light, the electromagnetic spectrum includes six different radiations, three of which are of wavelength shorter than that of light, while the three others are of wavelength longer than light's; but they all, according to James Maxwell's equations, travel in space at the speed of light.

Accordingly, I think that the white light we receive from the Sun―instead of being considered as a singular visible form of the electromagnetic radiation― is in reality just a VISIBLE EFFECT ensued from the contact between Earth's atmosphere and the  SIX INVISIBLE RADIATIONS emitted by the Sun―gamma, x-ray, ultraviolet, infrared, microwave, radio wave―at the point of their interference.

If it is to be proved that each one of the six electromagnetic radiations other than light is responsible for one of the rainbow colors― the seven colors into which light is split up when passing through a prism―then either that the seventh color represents the point at which these radiations interfere, or that the seventh color represents one unknown type of the electromagnetic radiations. In both cases, I think, the wavelength attributed to what we call light represents the wavelength of the complete interference of these six, or seven, radiations.

I think the suggestion that what we call light is produced at the interference point of the electromagnetic radiations when contact with an object, may be supported by two facts: (1) the characteristic phenomenon which light shares with the other types of electromagnetic radiations―the process so called diffraction, that is, light and all the electromagnetic radiations bend to the sides when they pass through a small hole, and then spread out; (2) the device that researcher in Finland and Belarus have produced, which they called "metasheet," a material into which were embedded  wire helices capable of absorbing electromagnetic radiation in a very narrow band of wavelengths, but remain transparent for the others in the spectrum; the metasheet worked for microwave radiation, and a modified design was obtained to work for visible light.


I think...god is the light...we are children of the light.

Stephen d

I think that the photographs taken by spacecrafts for the different members of our Solar System support my opinion that light―like all the other electromagnetic radiations―is an invisible radiation, for all these members appear in those photographs at the same degree of brightness, regardless their distance from the Sun.

This, in my opinion, means that in space where the emitted radiations that cause illumination contact with an object they become "turned on" anywhere at the same capacity, regardless how far is the object that receives these radiations from the source of light.

As to the question that would consequently conjure up about what prevents the radiations emitted by the countless billions of stars found in the Universe from illuminating the Solar System, there are two probabilities for an answer: (1) it is known, through James Young's double-slit experiment, that when two kinds of light destructively interfere they make darkness―that is to say that the Sun's own radiations produce an area of darkness in the far reaches of the Solar System when met with radiations emitted by the other sources existed in the Universe; (2) or that the radiations emitted by each star found in space have the ability of creating illumination at the same degree of brightness only within the lines of the star's magnetic force, which forms what looks like a huge bulb around it.


FM.MOSES you sound like a very intelligent man although if im honest I aint got a clue what your talk about but clearly you do. And respect to you.I was just thinking tonight about religion and science and remember your post. Is it not true that some of the earliest literature is the promotion of religion which in turn inspires reading and writing and the furthering of science. I know a lot of scientists scorn religion but are the two subjects not inextricably linked. I think so. I was talking to someone the other day who said religion is about controlling people. I dont think this is true although certainly people do use religion in a negative manner but not all. But yeah. Religion and science. I may be wrong.and im not trying to promote any singular religion as being the light although I will not deny them either. I think you should take what u need if it in turn helps you live a fufilling positive life. And what is positive I suppose is up for debate. So many questions.

Stephen d

Dear Steve,

You may see the fifth comment on the same subject, posted by me as a story with the same title. In this refered comment I, I think, have reached a clear view of the notion. By the way, I have refered to what the Koran- Muslim's sacred book- said of the deference between the Sun's light from that of the Moon. Greetings from Egypt. 


Ok will look at it after.


Stephen d