Monday, October 31, 2011

Ballunar


Happy Halloween! October 21-23 was the annual Ballunar Festival in Johnson Space Center, which proves that some sort of "inflation" exists. Saturday and Sunday morning the balloons were released in an impromptu race. Here they drift right by my lanai. The evening was celebrated with music and a balloon glow.

The balloons' shape disproves one tenet of cosmic inflation, that the universe is flat like the Earth. As a balloon fills with hot air, tension of the envelope pulls it into a spherical shape. In the universe, that tension is provided by gravity. The 3 dimensions that we move in can be thought of as the envelope of a 4-dimensional expanding universe. Thinkers from Pascal to Einstein and even Edgar Allan Poe have thought the universe is a sphere. The shape of a balloon is much more beautiful than flatness.