Thanks for another entertaining post. Just a few points:-

The current estimate for the age of the universe is 13.7 billion years.

The Big Bang started without any matter - it was too hot, so there was only energy. The matter could form only after expansion had begun.

"Now they say we might just barely be able to see the edge of our universe"

- The universe has no edge, but the observable universe does. That's not a limitation of observation technology. We can observe only that part of the universe from which light has had time to travel, i.e., within a distance of about 13.7 billion lt.yrs.

"I say our visible universe is just one spot on our ball"

- Yes, so do the experts. It's estimated that the actual size of the universe is at least 156 billion lightyears.

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mystery_monday_040524.html

"The outside edge of our universe would have to be travelling faster than the inside edge."

- The Big Bang started from an infinitely small point, in an infinitely dense state. So, the Big Bang happened everywhere. So, there is no centre, i.e., no one place where the Big Bang happened - it happened everywhere; and there is no edge. On large scales, matter is mutually receding a rate proportional to the separation distance.

"All the mass gets hurled out at the same velocity"

- No, it doesn't. The Big Bang was not like a conventional explosion. Matter was not ejected 'through' space. Space itself expanded. This expansion caused wavelengths to stretch and temperature to fall. This allowed matter to form. Since space was expanding, matter was separated by ever increasing distance, except where that was prevented by gravity, the electroweak force and the strong force. There is no single point in the universe from which all else is receding. The whole universe was that 'point'; so, the velocity of any object can be measured not in relation to a point of origin 'within' the universe, but only relative to another object, and these velocities, on the large scale, increase with distance.

"All moving away from the centre at pretty much the same speed. Leaving the middle empty, and the empty center growing larger as the material expands"

- The material doesn't expand, only the space.

- Studies of the large scale (observable) universe show that the distribution of matter is regular, i.e., the universe is homogenous and isotropic, throughout. There is no 'middle' and, on the large scale, there is no empty region:

http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~colbert/lecturecosmoI.htm

"So, the egg heads came up with something called dark matter"

- They didn't just "come up with it". The evidence for it is very strong, since it's effects are observable in the rotation of galaxies and in gravitational lensing.

"They theorised this dark matter is "pushing" matter away."

- No, they didn't do that. I think you're confusing "dark matter" with "dark energy"

From: http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/dark-energy.html

"In an article titled "The Cosmic Triangle: Revealing the State of the Universe," which appears in the May 28, 1999 issue of the journal Science, a group of cosmologists and physicists from Princeton University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory survey the wide range of evidence which, they write, "is forcing us to consider the possibility that some cosmic dark energy exists that opposes the self-attraction of matter and causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate." "

"In physics we have 4 known forces. weak and strong nuclear, electronegativity and gravity"

- You mean "electromagnetic". True, but these days we often find the term 'electroweak' applied as a unified description of electromagnetism and the weak interaction, because current theory models them as two different aspects of the same force.

"A pushing force is not really in the mix here"

- Not entirely true. Like magnetic poles repel each other, and like charges also repel. For example, protons repel each other (by electrostatic repulsion) and are held together only by the strong force (from mesons). Furthermore, it's accepted that the standard model of physics is an approximation of reality, so there's room for new discoveries.

"Quasars are the force that is pulling our universe apart"

- Quasars are not actually at the edge of the universe, nor is their gravitational force significant. Among all the 100,000,000,000 galaxies, only 100,000 quasars have yet been discovered. The consensus is that they are super-massive black holes within a halo of matter. Their distance (therefore, their age) is consistent with the theory that they are proto-galaxies, as is the fact that they exhibit many of the same properties as active galaxies (those containing just such a super-massive black hole). The theory is:- primordial gas cloud >> black hole >> quasar >> active galaxy.

Marchimedes, thanks for making me think about these things. I've had to check a few facts, and I'm sure I learned something in the process! smile
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler