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According to The Big Bang Theory everything started from nothing and suddenly started expanding creating everything that is. So why is it only expanding on an X&Y axis? I can only find facts that point towards it expanding in radius, but never thickness. Is it doing this as well, but I have just happened to never find it? Or is there some prevailing theory that has eluded me that explains this?

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In special relativity, the geometry of spacetime is described by $$ds^2=g_{\mu\nu}dx^\mu dx^\nu=c^2dt^2-dx^2-dy^2-dz^2=c^2dt^2-dr^2-r^2d\theta^2-r^2\sin^2\theta d\phi^2.$$(Note the space part can be described with Cartesian or polar coordinates.) This works well on small scales, but to understand the Big Bang we have to go beyond this.

Regardless of how if at all the Universe "began", the time-dependence of the universe's size follows from adding to general relativity two assumptions, isotropy (all directions are equivalent rather than there being an "up/down" axis across space) and homogeneity (on a large scale the universe has uniform density). One can then prove $$ds^2=c^2dt^2-a^2\left( t\right)\left(\frac{dr^2}{1-kr^2}+r^2d\theta^2+r^2\sin^2\theta d\phi^2\right)$$for some constant $k$ and some function $a$ called the scale factor. It is $a$ that determines the size of the universe, and it obeys two differential equations that govern its change over time. A "flat" universe is just one where $k=0$, or at least where $k$ is so small we can't measure how it differs from zero.

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It seems that you are interpreting the Universe as a plane layer with a given thickness. That is not true, the Universe is isotropic (it looks the same in all directions) and so is its expansion. When cosmologists say the Universe is flat they mean that at a large-scale it has a vanishing curvature. A way to understand this without knowing about differential geometry is to imagine a space where any (large scale) triangle has its internal angle added up to $180^o$.

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Think of it as a plane sheet, and expansion is simply the sheet growing in size (or you pulling the opposite edges apart, and let's assume the sheet does NOT break, it just expands) it stays a sheet, i.e. flat. Two point drawn on the sheet will get further apart.

If it was a positive curvature it'd like a balloon's surface, and you blow on it air and it expands: two points drawn on the balloon surface will get further apart. The same is true for a negative curvature saddle type surface expanding

But we do know that the universe, on a large scale (sizes of clusters of galaxies, tens to hundred light years and more), is flat (and homogeneous), or very close (uncertainty of .4%). So it is that flat sheet.

Still, remember we are talking about the spatial parts of the universe (at each time, whatever the space looks like), which are 3D (3 dimensional). So think of the sheet as a 3D sheet. That's the way to visualize it. The math is the answer you already accepted which shows the metric, and flat means k=o, so the spatial parts (called spatial hypersurfaces, but it's just the space we look at) are flat. We've measured k to be 0 within a .4% margin. K =1 is positive curvature, K=-1 is negative, and any other k can be mathematically reduced to one of those, just whether zero, positive or negative. a(t) in that same equation is simply the scale of the size of the sheet which is expanding uniformly in all dimensions.

So it's well defined, well understood, well visualized, and well measured.

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It is expaning in x,y and z directions. The radius of a sphere is $r=\sqrt{x^2+y^2+z^2}$. I'm guessing maybe you confused this with the formula for radius in 2D $r=\sqrt{x^2+y^2}$.

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  • $\begingroup$ I use the X and Y axis in the context of the length and width with the unmentioned Z being the height. Is it expanding in only width and length or is it also expanding in height/thickness? I have not been able to find and clarification. $\endgroup$ – TheGamerPlayz Jan 20 '17 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ You can point your finger in any direction and the universe is expanding in that direction. That is, it is expanding in x,y and z, or in width, height and length. $\endgroup$ – Jens Roderus Jan 20 '17 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ So it has always been expanding in every direction? Then why is it not a sphere? $\endgroup$ – TheGamerPlayz Jan 20 '17 at 21:32

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