For most of history, the beginning of the universe has been understood through the many myths offered in various cultures. But in the modern age, scientific cosmology has emerged to offer new explanations for the beginning and evolution of the universe. By 1900, religious and scientific conceptions of creation were widely seen as incompatible. In the 15th century, Nicholas of Cusa anticipated modern relativistic physics by suggesting that the universe has no center, no circumference, and no beginning or end. In the 20th century, Edwin Hubble used statistical analysis to prove that the universe is infinite. Modern cosmology suggests that there are 200 billion billion stars in the universe, including a variety of structures such as the nova, supernova, nebula, quasar, white dwarf, neutron star, pulsar, and black hole. The behavior of stars is governed by the physics of nuclear combustion and gravitation; our theories about stars depend upon advances in particle physics to explain the nuclear reactions that appear to explain star behavior. Edwin Hubble also discovered that the universe is expanding, which tended to confirm the conception that the universe began with a big bang. Various theories have suggested that the universe either is in a steady state, that it is inflating, that it may be oscillating, or perhaps even winding down.
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