Everyone's perspective of the universe is unique to them, a kaleidoscope of experiences and emotions that shape our understanding of the world around us. As we journey through life, our individual viewpoints constantly evolve, influenced by our interactions, memories, and aspirations. This multifaceted nature of human perception forms the core of the Sunset Conjecture, an intriguing concept that delves into the heart of our own observable universe and the profound significance of acknowledging the individuality of each and every perspective.
A short story will illustrate the point:
Picture yourself on the beach. You had a fantastic day of doing nothing, but reading, drinking piña coladas, and talking with friends. At the end of the day, you decide to take a walk on the beach to watch the sunset. You say to your friends, “I must be special. It seems as if the sun’s golden rays are reflecting right off the water, directly towards me.” Your friend responds, “No, you idiot. The golden rays are pointing directly towards me.”
Figure 1. The sun sets on two people simultaneously.
This phenomena can best be explained by the Sunset Conjecture, which is two-fold:
- You live at the center of your own observable universe, and
- At the center lies your idea space of uncountable depth and zero measure.
The Observable Universe
Everyone lives at the center of their own observable universe—a giant sphere centered on you where everything you see is in the past. It takes time for light to travel from point A to point B, even if it travels at 186,000 miles per second. This may seem fast, but it’s quite natural in a massive universe.
Figure 2. Your observable universe is a giant sphere centered on you where everything you see is in the past.
For instance, the average distance between the Sun and Earth is around 92 million miles. So, light from the sun takes around 8.3 minutes to reach us. This means the light you’re receiving from the sun right now is not the same light the sun is emitting right now. If the sun exploded at this very moment (which it probably won’t), then you wouldn’t know for about eight minutes.
Whenever you receive light (all the time), you are making a measurement about the past. This holds true whether you’re looking at a star ten light years away (figure xx-a) or if you’re looking at someone sitting ten meters away (figure xx-b). In the first case, you are looking at what that star looked like ten years ago. In the second case, you are looking at what someone looked like 0.00000003 seconds in the past.
Figure 3. Everything you see is in the past.
Now, what if we extrapolate this idea to the rest of the observable universe? It took light from Saturn 90 minutes to reach you; 24,000 light years for light from the center of the Milky Way to reach you; and, 13.8 billion years for light from the residue of the beginning of the universe, the Big Bang singularity, to reach you.
In other words, you are currently seeing Saturn whose light has travelled 90 light minutes as it was 90 minutes years ago; the center of the Milky Way galaxy whose light has travelled 24,000 light years as it was 24,000 light years ago; and the Big Bang whose light has travelled 13.8 billion light years as it was 13.8 billion years ago.
Simply put, the farther back you look in space, the farther back you look in time. The edge of your observable universe then becomes the farthest point you can see, or the farthest back in time you can see: the beginning of the universe, the Big Bang singularity.
The Big Bang singularity didn't just happen, but is still happening in your observable universe! Furthermore, like a sunset, the gravitational effects of the Big Bang hit you uniquely.
Picture two people standing next to each other. They each have their own giant sphere representing their observable universe. There is an overlap in the majority of the space, except for a tiny region on the outside. That tiny region is the beginning of time, the Big Bang.
Figure 5. The Singularity Sunset: everyone has their own unique experience of the gravitational effects of the Big Bang.
Hence the name Singularity Sunset: everyone experiences their own beginning of their own observable universe. Everyone experiences their own beginning of time.
Center of the Observable Universe
At the center of your observable universe lies your idea space of uncountable depth and zero measure. In other words, all your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and perceptions lie in an infinite space, hidden from the outside world.
Figure 6. Your idea space lies at the center of your observable universe.
In conclusion, the Sunset Conjecture unveils a profound cosmic truth: each of us stands as the central beacon within our own personal universe, illuminating the boundless depths of our unique thoughts, emotions, sensations, and perceptions. Like the last golden rays of a setting sun, our individual experiences color the horizon of our existence, etching a breathtaking tapestry of diverse perspectives against the infinite canvas of the cosmos.
Embracing this understanding allows us to transcend the boundaries of our singular vantage points and cultivate a deep sense of empathy and interconnectedness with those around us. As we navigate the celestial dance of our lives, let us remember that the key to unlocking a more meaningful existence lies in acknowledging the luminous beauty of each individual's Singularity Sunset. For within this symphony of light and shadows, we discover the power to forge stronger bonds, foster greater understanding, and ultimately, illuminate the path toward a more compassionate and united world.