“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein
Before we jump into the difference between the terms World and Universe, let us take a look at the context in which we use the word ‘World.’ It has been used to mean many different things but what seems quite clear, is the fact that any use of the term World must include a human element. When we speak of our World, we speak of our own personal environments. Generally speaking, however, the term World refers to the growth and spread of human civilization. The world derives its origins from Old English ‘weorold’ or ‘wereld’ which roughly translates into “The Age of Man.” When we speak of a world map, we refer to all the regions explored by mankind. It could include areas that are inhabited and uninhabited land but always includes places that humans have explored and plotted on a map.
The term Universe is a reference to everything that we may include in time and space. It is everything that is available to our senses. It includes all living beings, billions of galaxies, and all the millions of planets and stars that make up each of these galaxies. There is a vast amount of space that exists between the planets, stars, and galaxies and these contain dust clouds, light, dark matter. The Universe, however, is made up of far more than these. Time is also an important component of the Universe.
One of the most popular theories of the origins of the Universe is the ‘Big Bang Theory.’ According to proponents of this theory, the Universe came into being nearly 14 million years ago with a big bang. Time and space, both emerged and the amount of matter and energy in the Universe has remained constant since its creation.
The amount of space occupied by the Universe is not measurable. Besides, the Universe is believed to be expanding at a very rapid rate since its creation. This has two implications – firstly, this means that the amount of energy and matter in the Universe has become less dense (given that this amount is fixed but the space occupied by the Universe has increased) and secondly, this means that the Universe as we know it is several billion times larger than what it was at the time of the Big Bang.
The Universe is incredibly vast and it is impossible to measure the space it occupies. Most of our observations of the distant galaxies and stars are dated too. This is because light travels at a speed of 670,616,629 miles per hour. For light to reach across the Milky Way galaxy it would take about 100,000 years. So, the observation of the far reaches of the visible Universe only provides us information of its state some 93 billion light years ago.
The term ‘universe’ is believed to have found its origins in the Old Latin word ‘Univorsum’ or ‘Universum.’ Some believe it comes from the old French word ‘Univers.’