On my previous blog, Loner’s Highway, I had many science posts. A lot of shy people are interested in the sciences too, so I’m going to re-post them here. We’ll start at the beginning.
Something about the “Big Bang” has always bothered me.
For decades we’ve lived with this idea that billions of years ago the universe emerged from an infinitesimally small point, or ‘singularity’, and has been expanding ever since. In fact, the expansion is now said to be accelerating, but that’s another story.
What is the evidence for this? It’s not as strong as you’d think. It’s based on only two observations – the redshift of galaxies, and the CMB or cosmic microwave background radiation. I’ll deal with the CMB in a future post.
Back in the 1920s, astronomer Edwin Hubble noticed that the light from most galaxies had a redshift. It was quickly assumed that this was a ‘Doppler’ type affect, caused by the recession of the galaxies away from us. Hubble himself devised the ‘velocity-distance’ formula that allowed the calculation of a galaxy’s recession speed based on its redshift. Based on the apparent fact that all the galaxies seemed to be moving away from a central point, the theory of the Big Bang was born.
But Hubble warned again and again that all that had been discovered was the redshift. The recession was an assumption, not an observation. He thought it might be simply an affect of distance, caused by the gravity fields the light had passed through, or by something unknown.
Although no less than the famous quantum physicist Richard Feynman said he couldn’t understand why the Big Bang theorists were not including gravity as a factor, they never have included it, maybe because it would make the complexity of calculations enormous.
Hubble died still resisting the Big Bang idea, but there are scientists today who still dispute it. An ‘open letter to the scientific community’, from 33 scientists was published in the May 22-28, 2004 edition of New Scientist magazine. They pointed out the weaknesses in the theory, proposed some alternative ideas, then said:
Supporters of the Big Bang may retort that these theories do not support every cosmological observation. But that is scarcely surprising, as their development has been hampered by a complete lack of funding. Indeed, such questions and alternatives cannot even now be freely discussed and examined. An open exchange of ideas is lacking in most mainstream conferences.
Whereas Richard Feynman could say that “science is the culture of doubt”, in cosmology today doubt and dissent are not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they have something negative to say about the standard big bang model. Those who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding.
Did you know modern science is like that? Well, there it is.
Just think what it means if there was no Big Bang, no identified beginning to the universe, or to time. If it’s true, then we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.