I was reading another blog – The Evangelical Outpost – and stumbled upon a very interesting link in one of his posts. He writes: “The Weird Universe — Dark Matter. Not-so-constant constants. The Placebo Effect. New Scientist finds 13 things that do not make sense. (Assuming it isn’t a fluke, #4 is particularly intriguing.)”

I personally found #2 to be the most interesting:

2 The horizon problem

OUR universe appears to be unfathomably uniform. Look across space from one edge of the visible universe to the other, and you’ll see that the microwave background radiation filling the cosmos is at the same temperature everywhere. That may not seem surprising until you consider that the two edges are nearly 28 billion light years apart and our universe is only 14 billion years old.

Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, so there is no way heat radiation could have travelled between the two horizons to even out the hot and cold spots created in the big bang and leave the thermal equilibrium we see now.

This “horizon problem” is a big headache for cosmologists, so big that they have come up with some pretty wild solutions. “Inflation”, for example.

You can solve the horizon problem by having the universe expand ultra-fast for a time, just after the big bang, blowing up by a factor of 1050 in 10-33 seconds. But is that just wishful thinking? “Inflation would be an explanation if it occurred,” says University of Cambridge astronomer Martin Rees. The trouble is that no one knows what could have made that happen.

So, in effect, inflation solves one mystery only to invoke another. A variation in the speed of light could also solve the horizon problem – but this too is impotent in the face of the question “why?” In scientific terms, the uniform temperature of the background radiation remains an anomaly.