Because the chief attractions of this blog to date are the posts about autism, and those about the children who talk about past lives, I always hesitate to do one on other subjects. But elsewhere on the internet, in the comments columns, etc, you will find me arguing for alternative views, and that’s especially true with astrophysics.
The big controversy this week over the photos of the deep universe taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) conflicting with the Big Bang theory has forced me to say something about that here.
This is not really news to those who have been following the JWST – the photos that show large galaxies at a distance only 600 million years after the Big Bang actually came out last July. On the Youtube website of Anton Petrov we have been arguing about this since then. Though Anton is a Big Bang defender, he has has a keen eye for interesting new evidence, and I highly recommend his website.
Basically the controversy is this – according to Big Bang theory, the universe is 13.8 billion years old and stars could not have begun to form until 400 million years after the Big Bang. Because of this, the adherents of the theory were hoping that the JWST would begin to show a point in deep space where galaxies become smaller and less frequent, until finally there would be a period of darkness. They’ve been hoping for this for a long time. They hoped the Hubble telescope would find it, but all it found was more galaxies and stars.
Now the JWST has found 6 giant galaxies only 600 million years after the Big Bang. If the universe is 13.8 billion years old, there shouldn’t have been time for them to form. Over the next year you’re going to see mainstream astrophysics struggling with this. It probably won’t be long before you hearing that the universe is actually 14.5 billion years old, or something like that. They’ve been making these revisions for a long time.
What almost no one wants to say is that there is another alternative – that there never was a Big Bang, that the universe, in so far as we have been able to see it so far, just goes on forever.
You know, when I was growing up in the 1950s that was the understanding of most scientists. The Big Bang people were still upstarts. It was okay back then for scientists to say that we simply don’t know the true nature of the universe.
Now the Big Bang (called in astrophysicist circles the ‘Standard Model of Cosmology’) say, “Well if you want to dispute this, you have to have a better theory. In the meantime, this is the best theory we have”.
Well, it might be the best theory we have, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a very poor theory. To me it would be far better for us to admit that we simply don’t know how the universe got here. No theory is needed to say that.
There are scientists who dispute the Big Bang. The strongest of these is probably physicist Eric Lerner, a plasma physicist whose main work is on fusion technology. What right does a plasma physicist have to comment? Well, the answer would be little, if there was no Big Bang theory. But if there was a Big Bang, the creation of the matter and energy we see today had to go through a period in which everything was in a plasma state – a state in which atoms did not yet exist. Lerner, who knows something about plasma physics, is very sceptical of statements astrophyicists have made about that plasma period.
Anyway, in response to the new JWST photos, Lerner has come out with a new post – The Big Bang didn’t happen.
The knee jerk response from mainstream astrophysicists has been the usual – they call him a ‘pseudoscientist’, a ‘crackpot’, etc. If you you want to learn more about this, check out Lerner. With that post, on the IAI website (Institute of Art and Ideas) you may receive the link to a charming debate between astrophysicists John Ellis, Laura Mersini-Houghton, and Roger Penrose, in which they attempt to defend the Big Bang, but make a number of statements that reveal that they know the truth is probably not to be found in Big Bang theory. Ellis maintains a complete denial, I admit, but Mersini-Houghton talks guardedly of how she really wants to get beyond the Big Bang, and Penrose, who is a mathematician first, talks in his usual complex whimsical way, smiling mischiefously because he knows how much is still hidden from us. Roger is a mathematician of the Lewis Carroll school, one who delights in going down rabbit holes into the enigma of reality.
Lerner of course was not invited. He never is.
PS – the galaxy photo here is courtesy of the NASA website. WordPress used to allow us to put that in a caption for the image, but not so apparently as technology progresses.