The Big Bang, Fact or Fiction?
It’s rather irritating to those in the science fields to hear the phrase, “The Big Bang is no different than god creating the universe.” This assertion is so biased and misinformed I have to wonder about the troglodyte that said it in the first place. The Big Bang is a mathematically reducible concept. Here’s why:
A great scientist Edwin Hubble (who we name the Hubble telescope after) found out that v = H*d. He, for the first time established that the universe was and is indeed expanding. It was this relationship that destroyed scientists’ previous theories of an infinite stable state universe. Basically the relationship between how fast a galaxy is receding from earth is a property of how far away it is. The further the galaxy is the faster they are receding from us.
This was the first proof that space itself was expanding, pushing away objects held together by gravity faster and faster as the amount of space between two objects grew. To notice this effect you need to be two galaxies separated by mind boggling distances but the effect grows rapidly.
How can galaxies be approaching then? Well galaxies aren’t just static, they’re moving in space as space is expanding between them. Some galaxies such as the Andromeda galaxy are close enough that the expanding space between it and our galaxy is not greater than the velocity at which it’s approaching ours, but it is a general rule that the farther something is away from us the faster it’s moving away from us.
It was this theory that lead science to postulate the idea of a ‘big bang’ something seen previously as impossibility. It became science overnight to believe that time actually had a starting point and that our universe was born. If space was expanding faster and faster objects at one point had, logically, to be closer and if objects were closer gravity should have pulled them together and, like an explosion, once that force was overcome the universe would’ve rapidly expanded. We know now that it wasn’t only gravity but I digress.
As science progressed we filled in more blanks. If there was a big bang there should’ve been energetic residue throughout the universe that proved it did; however no one was having any luck finding this residue.
It’s important now to understand the nature of light. Electromagnetic radiation (of which visible light is a part of) is a property of its wavelength. Radiowaves are large; the visible spectrum of light includes small tight waves, and X-rays are even smaller. In 1964 two Radio astronomers were using a telescope which interprets Microwaves instead of visible light. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were having a problem. They were attempting to run experiments with satellites and radio astronomy but they could not account for several extra degrees Kelvin.
Both Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson knew that the atmosphere contributed a minor amount to their readings but it had been long established that this was only about two degrees Kelvin. They were reading seven to eight degrees Kelvin. They assumed something else was influencing it. First they checked nearby radio signals and pointed their telescope away from incoming sources. Unfortunately they were still reading around seven degrees Kelvin.
This didn’t make sense until they heard the squawk of pigeons coming from their telescope. Usually pigeons wouldn’t affect such equipment but they decided to clear the birds out anyways and after having the fowl creatures return several times were forced to use drastic means. After scrubbing the pigeon’s left-overs from their telescope they tried again; six degrees Kelvin.
At this point, after clearing every inconsistency away, they couldn’t understand why cold dark space seemed to be anything but cold and dark. Their telescope had been calibrated manually, their interference had been removed and the birds had been killed. The only conclusion was that space wasn’t cold and dark.
What Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson had stumbled upon was the predicted residue from the big bang: a snapshot of the microwave radiation still present in all space from the initial explosion of the big bang. This was dubbed the CMBR or the cosmic microwave background radiation. After the stunning discovery scientists had their smoking gun. The big bang was now fact.
So then what would the big bang have been like? Well using Hubble’s law and the more exact data provided by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson we can calculate the universe’s age to be somewhere between fourteen to fifteen billion years old. The number of course is more exact as we can derive down to a fraction of a second after the big bang (when the laws of our universe break down and quantum mechanics take over) but the point is the universe is about that old.
Fifteen billion years ago the big bang formed. From quantum mechanics we believe this was caused by a spacetime foam, these foams are created when universes (constantly shifting and moving) interact with each other creating a new universe. The new universe starts out as a big bang singularity. Big bang singularities should not be confused with the singularities at the center of a black hole; though the idea behind both is the same (minus gravity) the big bang singularity contains all of the original stuff in our entire universe within it.
This singularity was amazingly energetic and dense. The fundamental forces of our universe held it together acting as a ‘super force’ gravity, electro magnetism, weak interaction (where nuclear fission gets its energy), and strong interaction (where nuclear fusion gets its energy) were one.
One of the neat things about the birth of a universe is that time begins. As time begins change happens and so it did. The forces were violently thrown off of the singularity condensing into the laws that we know today releasing a huge explosion of energy. As the singularity expanded, space itself expanded, its boundaries pushed larger and larger as the singularity exploded. Space quite literally expanded faster than the speed of light.
Some might say, hey wait a minute, nothing is faster than the speed of light. This is true but that’s assuming in a straight line. The laws of relativity allow for a loophole to that speed. Rather than you moving, the space around you moves, and the expansion of space or even the shape of it is not constrained by light.
The farther the primordial energies of the big bang got from one another the more space and time there was to dissipate their heat. Energies interacted in ways that can’t happen at modern day temperatures building up complexity as they coalesced and interacted producing most (if not all) of the matter and energy within the universe today. First it was photons, then electrons and positrons then protons, antiprotons, and neutrons.
With the building blocks of matter in place the first (and still the most common) element appeared: hydrogen. The universe was nothing but gaseous hydrogen at this point but there was a lot of it and space itself buckled under the weight. A star was born, and another and another. Soon galaxies and super clusters were born. The engine within a star produced all of the elements through iron we know and love today. Unfortunately fusion by itself isn’t enough stars simply don’t possess enough energy to fuse heavier elements than Iron.
What was needed was an explosion. The first supernova, second and soon trillions propagated the heavier elements throughout the universe. Eventually, in a small galaxy and on the edge of one arm enough raw materials came together to give birth to a star. That star we call Sol, and around that star dust and debris collected to form planets. The Solar system was born.
So that leads us back to our first question. The big bang, fact or fiction? Frankly to believe in anything else is insanity.