[ExI] Galaxy map hints at fractal universe

Jef Allbright jefallbright at gmail.com
Wed Jun 25 16:49:28 UTC 2008

A recent article in New Scientist, with its characteristic mix of
insight and inanity, points to further support for the universal
tendency toward preservation of self-similar structure at all scales.
Meta-interesting as yet another foil for those who prefer the comfort
and imagined simplicity and certainty of closed models of "reality."

- Jef

Is the matter in the universe arranged in a fractal pattern? A new
study of nearly a million galaxies suggests it is – though there are
no well-accepted theories to explain why that would be so.

Cosmologists trying to reconstruct the entire history of the universe
have precious few clues from which to work. One key clue is the
distribution of matter throughout space, which has been sculpted for
nearly 14 billion years by the competing forces of gravity and cosmic
expansion. If there is a pattern in the sky, it encodes the secrets of
the universe.

A lot is at stake, and the matter distribution has become a source of
impassioned debate between those who say the distribution is smooth
and homogeneous and those who say it is hierarchically structured and
clumpy, like a fractal.

Nearly all physicists agree that on relatively small scales the
distribution is fractal-like: hundreds of billions of stars group
together to form galaxies, galaxies clump together to form clusters,
and clusters amass into superclusters.

The point of contention, however, is what happens at even larger
scales. According to most physicists, this Russian doll-style
clustering comes to an end and the universe, on large scales, becomes

But a small team of physicists, including Francesco Sylos Labini of
the Enrico Fermi Centre in Rome and Luciano Pietronero of the
University of Rome argue that the data shows the opposite: the
universe continues to look fractal as far out as our telescopes can

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