Big bang holds steady

Adam asked:

Your panel replied:

‘I don’t think we need to consider the big bang. Textbooks tend to lag far behind current doctrines and your textbook on physics is evidently unaware that he inventors of the big bang hypothesis have long ago abandoned it.’


I’m gonna need some more info on this, as this is the first I’ve heard of this EVER and I’m about to get an Associate’s Degree.

What about Hubble’s Law and dark energy?

What other rewrites of famous hypotheses/theories are they not putting in the textbooks?

Have they already proved perpetual motion?

Or electrogravitic UFO propulsion?

Answer by Craig Skinner

Rest easy. The Big Bang hypothesis is alive and well (more on this below).

Funnily enough though, perpetual motion may still have legs so to speak: in most theoretical models of dark energy, its density is constant, so that as the universe expands, the total amount of dark energy increases. Far from running out of steam as 19th century thermodynamics had it, the universe seems to be a perpetual motion machine, expanding because of dark energy, and thereby creating more dark energy as it does so.

As regards UFO propulsion, I have nothing to report, but suggest you can trust the textbooks here.

The Big Bang hypothesis (originally called the primaeval atom hypothesis) was advanced in 1927 by Father Lemaitre. He said the idea fell out naturally from Einstein’s equations, and explained recent redshift findings (the universe was expanding). Einstein didn’t accept it, saying the mathematics was brilliant but the physics abominable. If true, there should be cosmic microwave background radiation, and in 1948 Gamow calculated that such an ‘afterglow of creation’ would now have a temperature just a few degrees above absolute zero.

In 1951, before the theory was accepted by science (most favoured an eternal, essentially unchanging universe), the Pope endorsed it, saying it supported Christian doctrine as to God creating the world. Many scientists opposed it because of this endorsement, one even said it was a conspiracy to shore up Christianity. Fred Hoyle, one of the authors of the rival Steady State Theory, referred to the primaeval atom idea derisorily as the ‘Big Bang’ in a 1949 radio programme, and the name stuck.

In 1964, the cosmic background radiation was detected, just as Gamow had predicted, and the theory was secure. Further evidence for BB and against SS was the radioastronomy data as to distribution of young galaxies (BB and SS predicted differently, the observations supported BB).

The initial Big Bang idea couldn’t solve the monopole problem, flatness problem and smoothness problem. But these were solved at a stroke by hypothesising a brief epoch of enormous expansion (inflation) in the Universe’s earliest moments. And so was born the Inflationary Big Bang hypothesis which is the standard model accepted by virtually all cosmologists.

It’s uncertain whether the Big Bang is

* the start of the one and only universe that exists

* the latest rebound in an endless Big Bang/Gnab Gib cycle

* one of a vast number of quantum fluctuations producing universes in an inflationary multiverse

* one of many collisions involving higher dimensional branes (M theory)

but these are simply further enquiries and developments within a well-established paradigm.


Answer by Eric George

I don’t think one should throw away a tear drop and then say one has removed the ocean. That certain answer given to you in reply, doesn’t speak for the entire panel. Furthermore, I take the answer itself to be in the context of certain scientific theories which attempt to do away with the absolute beginning of the universe a finite time ago (most estimates express this to be 13.7 billion years), postulated in the classical representation of the Big Bang cosmological theory. ‘The standard model’. This model posits, simply put, that since the universe is expanding (metric spacial expansion) – then theoretically by rewinding the past series of events backwards the universe becomes more dense and more contracted. That is, both time and space contract to the point of singularity, an extremely dense state from which the universe as we now know it, came to be.

But this early phase of the universe is open to speculation, because under the standard model, once the universe contracts and breaks down to the sub-atomic level, the introduction of GUT (Grand Unified Theory) propositions have to be affirmed. And to this end, nothing of the sort has been affirmed to be anywhere near as convincing in being viable to explain this early phase of the universe. This is where hypotheses underpinned by quantum mechanics are theorized, such as the multiverse or world ensemble theory which suggests that this universe we inhabit is just one of many randomly ordered universes.

Or the self-causation principle theory proposed by erudites such as Daniel Dennett which theorizes that the universe brought itself into being, or that another universe gave ‘birth’ to this current universe. The list goes on and on, however I take it to be that the Big Bang theory which is inclusive to an absolute beginning of time and space is commonly held and widely accepted within the scientific academia. The problem is not what, but how. How exactly did this all came to be – from the very early phase of the universe till now, this is a completely different matter and is open to speculation. In this way at least, an abandonment of certainty has taken place.


Answer by Shaun Williamson

I think you are deliberately misunderstanding things, possibly for comic effect. The panel do not answer questions. Certain panel members may choose to answer your question but they do not consult each other on the content of answers, so there are no panel answers.

What are you getting an associates degree in, veterinary medicine or cosmology. You don’t tell us so it is difficult to see the point of this remark.

Cosmology is a difficult and rapidly evolving subject so it is unwise to be dogmatic about anything. However it has become apparent that the original (simple minded) big bang theory is not enough to explain all the things we now know about the universe. This doesn’t mean that it has been abandoned any more than Einstein’s theories meant that we had abandoned Newton’s theories.

I would bet that any recent textbook you can buy would not contain Stephen Hawking’s latest ideas on black holes, nor would they contain the latest ideas on the nature of dark energy. The reason why we have research departments in universities is that the textbooks are never up to date. Even out ideas about quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle have recently been questioned.

You should also keep in mind that we have still failed to match our Einsteinian cosmology up with quantum mechanics and until we do this all our theories are provisional and open to question.


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