“The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.” -H. L. Mencken

If you went back 100 years in time, you could rightfully claim that, scientifically, we had no convincing evidence as to where our Universe came from. After all, when we looked up at the night sky and saw the Milky Way, we thought that was pretty much the full extent of the Universe.

Thankfully, times have changed, and the scientific discoveries coupled with the theoretical advances we’ve made have given us a consistent, accurate picture of a Universe that is:

  • Huge, with hundreds of billions of galaxies comparable to our Milky Way.
  • Expanding, with galaxies farther away speeding away from us ever faster.
  • Cooling, where the light in the Universe loses energy as the expansion of space stretches its wavelength.
  • And old, but not infinitely so.

In fact, we have multiple ways of measuring these things and many more, including the Age of the Universe, which comes in at around 13.7 Billion Years. The more evidence comes out, the more the Big Bang framework of the Universe becomes validated, so much so that it’s the only scientifically respectable theory out there concerning the history of the Universe today.

It tells us what the Universe was like when it was only a tiny fraction of a second old,

and it tells us how, physically, we get the Universe we have today.

It is, to me, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and the inspiration for the title of this site.

And then I came across this page, claiming that not only won’t the Big Bang work, but enumerating 10 reasons why the Big Bang won’t work.

Let’s go through these reasons, and see if there’s any scientific validity in any of them. After all, scrutinizing the claims of your dearest, most strongly supported theories and searching for cracks in it (and new answers) is the spirit of science, isn’t it?

Here’s the deal, though. I’m going to be completely honest about what we do and don’t know, what our best interpretations of it are, and I will call out statements that are cherry-picked. Let’s begin.

Why the Big Bang Won’t Work

The Big Bang theory has been accepted by a majority of scientists today. It theorizes that a large quantity of nothing decided to pack tightly together,–and then explode outward into hydrogen and helium. This gas is said to have flowed outward through frictionless space (“frictionless,” so the out-flowing gas cannot stop or slow down) to eventually form stars, galaxies, planets, and moons. It all sounds so simple, just as you would find in a science fiction novel. And that is all it is.

Well, first off, it isn’t “nothing”, and it didn’t “decide” anything. The Big Bang states that all of the matter and energy in the Universe (which is definitely something!) was, in the distant past, packed together in a very hot, dense state. And like any hot, dense thing, it expands. (Don’t believe me? Go take a beach ball, inflate it most of the way in the morning, and leave it out in the Sun.

See if it hasn’t expanded by 2 PM.) It wasn’t that “nothing” was turned into hydrogen and helium, either. It’s that the building blocks of hydrogen and helium — along with a whole bunch of other stuff — were created in the Big Bang. We even understand how they assembled to create these light elements.

And as for space being “frictionless”, that’s true. So there are a few misleading statements at the outset, but nothing so heinous. Yet.

What it is all about?

The originators–George Lemaitre, a Belgium, struck on the basic idea in 1927; and George Gamow, R.A. Alpher, and R. Herman devised the basic Big Bang model in 1948. But it was Gamow, a well-known scientist and science fiction writer, that gave it its present name and then popularized it. Campaigning for the idea enthusiastically, he was able to convince many other scientists. He used quaint little cartoons to emphasize the details. The cartoons really helped sell the theory.

There were a lot of people involved in the development of the Big Bang who aren’t credited (Friedmann, Robertson, Walker, etc.), but that’s not such a big deal. Gamow didn’t name it “The Big Bang”, though, Fred Hoyle, the most famous detractor of the Big Bang, derogatorily referred to it as such. Gamow, incidentally, didn’t really convince anyone that the Big Bang was correct. An experimental result did, when the “leftover glow” from the Big Bang was discovered! (For what it’s worth, that didn’t happen until the mid-1960s.)

As for the cartoon used and cited?

Image Copyright: The Kingfisher Young People's Book of Space, 1998.

Cartoons have always been an integral part of physics explanations, and this wasn’t even Gamow’s cartoon!

But then we get into the meat of this article, which… well, let’s go through it!

The Big Bang Theory

According to this theory, in the beginning, there was no matter, just nothingness. Then this nothingness condensed by gravity into a single, tiny spot; and it decided to explode! That explosion produced protons, neutrons, and electrons which flowed outward at incredible speed throughout empty space; for there was no other matter in the universe.
As these protons, neutrons, and electrons hurled themselves outward at supersonic speed, they are said to have formed themselves into typical atomic structures of mutually orbiting hydrogen and helium atoms. Gradually, the outward-racing atoms are said to have begun circling one another, producing gas clouds which then pushed together into stars.

Or, as Einstein’s theory of general relativity tells us (and this is what Lemaitre and the others I mentioned discovered in the 1920s), space itself was expanding. In addition to protons, neutrons, and electrons (which do make up what we refer to as “normal matter” today), there were also neutrinos and, most importantly, photons. Photons, known better as light, were the most dominant form of energy in the Universe for the first few thousand years.

And although the hydrogen and helium atoms didn’t orbit or circle one another, they did gravitationally collapse to form the first stars in the Universe.

Let’s go ahead again.

These first stars only contained lighter elements (hydrogen and helium). Then all of the stars repeatedly exploded. It took at least two explosions of each star to produce our heavier elements.

This, actually, is kind of true! The first stars in the Universe did only contain Hydrogen and Helium, which they burned for fuel. When you burn up all of your fuel, your star — if massive enough — will explode, recycling its material for use in future stars. Our Sun, as best as we can tell, is a third generation star, meaning that not only did these stars need to live and die, but an entire second generation needed to as well.

Of course, with a Universe that’s 13.7 Billion Years old and a Sun that’s about 4.5 Billion Years old, that doesn’t pose a problem. But the following does.

Gamow described it in scientific terms: In violation of physical law, emptiness fled from the vacuum of space–and rushed into a superdense core, that had a density of 1094 gm/cm and a temperature in excess of 1039 degrees absolute. That is a lot of density and heat for a gigantic pile of nothingness! (Especially when we realize that it is impossible for nothing to get hot. Although air gets hot, air is matter, not an absence of it.)

None of this is accurate, except perhaps the part that says “Gamow described it in scientific terms.” Emptiness doesn’t flee from anywhere or rush to anywhere. The density or temperature of any point in space were never that high at any point during the Big Bang, and, like I said, it wasn’t a pile of nothing, it was a tremendous concentration of matter and energy.

Furthermore, even if this were what Gamow said (which it isn’t), it’s unfair to attack the 1948 model. It’s 2010. We’ve done 62 years of learning and discovering since then, and we understand a lot more.

But perhaps there are good things ahead. Let’s continue.

Where did this “superdense core” come from? Gamow solemnly came up with a scientific answer for this; he said it came as a result of “the big squeeze,” when the emptiness made up its mind to crowd together. Then, with true scientific aplomb, he named this solid core of nothing, “ylem” (pronounced “ee-lum”). With a name like that, many people thought this must be a great scientific truth of some kind. In addition, numbers were provided to add an additional scientific flair: This remarkable lack-of-anything was said by Gamow to have a density of 10145 g/cc, or one hundred trillion times the density of water!

Then all that packed-in blankness went boom!

None of this is true, nor does any of this describe the Big Bang. Gamow’s associate, Alpher, did hypothesize something called the ylem, but it referred to this very hot, dense, expanding state that happened very early on, towards the beginning of the Universe. It doesn’t have anything to do with nothingness, as one can discover by checking wikipedia. We know now at these high temperatures and densities that protons and neutrons break down into even tinier particles known as quarks and gluons.

But 10145 g/cm3 isn’t 100 trillion times the density of water; it’s a billion trillion trillion trillion googol times the density of water, and a far greater density than the Universe ever reached.

But I can assume that these are all just honest misunderstandings. Let’s continue.

That is the theory. It all sounds so simple, just as you would find in a science fiction novel. And that is all it is. The theory stands in clear violation of physical laws, celestial mechanics, and common sense. Here are a number of scientific reasons why the Big Bang theory is unworkable and fallacious.

Okay. So this redux of the Big Bang Theory is mostly bogus, although there is that one impressively correct fact about the Sun being a third-generation star. The Big Bang is totally consistent with Physical Laws (being derived from them and all), has nothing to do with celestial mechanics except that they both operate under the same law of gravity (Einstein’s general relativity), although it may violate common sense.

Why will I concede that? Because what we call “common sense” is based in our common experiences as human beings, which (fortunately) does not include being around during the Big Bang!

So, now what? Should we go through the 10 “scientific” objections? Even though the person who wrote these objections has no scientific experience or qualifications to make them?

i-f332bb422472bd5737019dd7eea479fc-Duty Calls.png
Why not? After all, I do, and I’ve got your ear. Let’s take a look at what science has to say about these so-called scientific objections.

1. The Big Bang theory is based on theoretical extremes. It may look good in math calculations, but it can’t actually happen. A tiny bit of nothing packed so tightly together that it blew up and produced all the matter in the universe. Seriously now, this is a fairy tale. It is a bunch of armchair calculations, and nothing else. It is easy to theorize on paper. The Big Bang is a theoretical extreme, just as is a black hole. It is easy to theorize that something is true, when it has never been seen and there is no definitive evidence that it exists or ever happened. But let us not mistake Disneyland theories for science.

Theoretical extremes happen all the time. The one example used to show how ridiculous the Big Bang is — black holes — definitely exist. (I’ve even written about that, too.)

But this isn’t even a scientific objection; it’s just a repetition of earlier inaccuracies coupled with the lie that “there is no definitive evidence that it… ever happened.” Check out this article for some simple, straightforward, but comprehensive evidence for the Big Bang, which no alternative has successfully explained.

2. Nothingness cannot pack together. It would have no way to push itself into a pile.

It sounds like the author is upset, in his own particular words, as to how the Big Bang got started in the first place. That’s actually a good question, and one that we didn’t have a reasonable answer to until 1979.

Although we aren’t 100% sure of it, our best theory for that is called cosmic inflation, which details what happened before the Big Bang and tells us how the Big Bang resulted from it. The one major test that’s been done of the theory — detailed measurement of the scalar spectral index — is as close to a smoking gun for inflation as we’ve gotten so far. But it isn’t a problem with the Big Bang, its a limit to the scope of the theory.

3. A vacuum has no density. It is said that the nothingness got very dense, and that is why it exploded. But a total vacuum is the opposite of total density.

A vacuum does have no density. (No matter density, at any rate.) A total vacuum is the opposite of infinite density. But it is not said, by anyone, that “the nothingness got very dense, and that it why it exploded.” Rather, the very hot and dense stuff, the moment it began to exist, was hot and dense, and that forced it to expand.

4. There would be no ignition to explode nothingness. No fire and no match. It could not be a chemical explosion, for no chemicals existed. It could not be a nuclear explosion, for there were no atoms!

As people have been stating for nearly a century, it isn’t an “explosion” at all. It’s called the “expanding” Universe for a reason.

It was neither a chemical nor a nuclear explosion, it’s a continuous and rapid (but gradual) expansion. This has been known since the 1920s, thanks to Edwin Hubble’s great discovery.

5. There is no way to expand it. How can you expand what isn’t there? Even if that magical vacuum could somehow be pulled together by gravity, what would then cause the pile of emptiness to push outward? The “gravity” which brought it together would keep it from expanding.

It isn’t magic, it isn’t a push, and it isn’t a pile of emptiness. The Universe expands due to the definition of space. And this is one of the most fascinating things about it: if you take General Relativity as your theory of gravity, and you say that space is — on average — full of stuff (matter and energy) everywhere, you only have two possibilities. Either your Universe is expanding or it’s contracting. Nothing else is even theoretically allowed.

Ever since the observation of the 1920s, it’s been demonstrated that the Universe is expanding. Although there’s still some uncertainty about how it’s going to end,

every single one of the possibilities starts with a Big Bang, and comes forward in time to give us an expanding, cooling Universe. So there’s not only a way to expand it, the expansion of your Universe is unavoidable.

6. Nothingness cannot produce heat. The intense heat caused by the exploding nothingness is said to have changed the nothingness into protons, neutrons, and electrons. First, an empty vacuum in the extreme cold of outer space cannot get hot by itself. Second, an empty void cannot magically change itself into matter. Third, there can be no heat without an energy source.

Of course there can’t be heat without energy; heat by definition is a form of energy transfer! But the question you’re asking, in other words, is “why is the early Universe so hot?” This goes back to the same question we answered earlier: where did the Big Bang come from? The Big Bang will take us all the way back to the beginning of what we call “the radiation era”, which is where matter flying around at ultra-relativistic speeds and photons — particles of light — were the dominant constituents of the Universe.

So where did all the energy that started the Big Bang come from? We know, from the answer to question #2, that we’ll want to look at what cosmic inflation says. (And if you want something that violates “common sense,” you’ll love inflation!)

Image credit: Ned Wright's cosmology tutorial.

And it says that, while the Universe was undergoing its period of exponential expansion (i.e., inflation), it wasn’t matter or radiation that was driving it. Rather, there was energy in the vacuum itself that caused it. But there isn’t anywhere near that amount of energy in the vacuum today. So what happened?

Image courtesy of Andy Albrecht, one of the three co-inventors of new inflation.

That vacuum energy (on the vertical axis) decreased down to zero (or almost zero), but that energy had to go somewhere! Where did it go? Into matter, photons, radiation, etc., but there was so much of it! So the matter and energy that was created was born hot, and hence sometimes we call it not just the Big Bang, but the Hot Big Bang. (And the process by which inflation ends and the Universe gets hot is called Reheating.)

7. The calculations are too exacting. Too perfect an explosion would be required. On many points, the theoretical mathematical calculations needed to turn a Big Bang into stars and our planet cannot be worked out; in others they are too exacting. Knowledgeable scientists call them “too perfect.” Mathematical limitations would have to be met which would be next to impossible to achieve. The limits for success are simply too narrow. Most aspects of the theory are impossible, and some require parameters that would require miracles to fulfill. One example of this is the expansion of the original fireball from the Big Bang, which they place precisely within the narrowest of limits. An evolutionist astronomer, R.H. Dicke, says it well: “If the fireball had expanded only .1 percent faster, the present rate of expansion would have been 3 x 103 times as great. Had the initial expansion rate been 0.1 percent less, the Universe would have expanded to only 3 x 10-6 of its present radius before collapsing. At this maximum radius the density of ordinary matter would have been 10-12 grm/m3, over 1016 times as great as the present mass density. No stars could have formed in such a Universe, for it would not have existed long enough to form stars.”

Bob Dicke (who was my advisor’s advisor’s advisor, for whatever that’s worth) wrote this in 1969, and it’s still true. If the Universe were born with the same amount of energy but expanded at a slightly faster rate, nothing of interest would ever have happened. Not only would clusters, galaxies, and stars never have formed, but the expansion rate would have outdistanced gravity by such an amount that nuclei and electrons would never have found one another! This means that there wouldn’t even be any neutral atoms in the Universe.

On the other hand, if the Universe were born with the same amount of energy but expanded at a slightly slower rate, nothing of interest would ever have happened for very different reasons! Universes that have more energy than their expansions can tolerate will stop expanding, turn around and recollapse!

Fortunately, our Universe doesn’t do either. The expansion rate and the overall energy density seem to be perfectly balanced, giving us a Universe that appears to be spatially flat.

Not open (where expansion defeats gravity) or closed (where gravity defeats the expansion), but this “Goldilocks” case, where everything is just right. Why would it be this perfectly flat, “just right” case?

Again, the answer is given by cosmic inflation, something Dicke had no way of knowing about when he wrote about the flatness problem in 1969. Take a sphere, for instance, and blow it up. Blow it up larger and larger still, but keep looking at the same sized region you started looking at. Eventually, it will appear flat to you, the same way your backyard appears flat (even though it’s a part of the spherical Earth.)

Well, inflation takes any Universe, regardless of its shape or curvature, and stretches it flat. Perfectly flat means that the energy density (which determines gravity) and the expansion rate are perfectly balanced. The fact that they are so perfectly balanced tells us more about how good inflation is than anything else.

8. Such an equation would have produced not a universe but a hole. *Roger L. St. Peter in 1974 developed a complicated mathematical equation that showed that the theorized Big Bang could not have exploded outward into hydrogen and helium. In reality, St. Peter says the theoretical explosion (if one could possibly take place) would fall back on itself and make a theoretical black hole! This means that one imaginary object would swallow another one!

Well, I earnestly tried to look this one up. I’ve never heard of Roger L. St. Peter before, nor of this work. But after an exhaustive google search, I found this. It’s a set of abstracts from “Creation Research Science Quarterly” from 1974, and it contains an abstract written by Roger L. St. Peter, then an undergraduate student at Bob Jones University. Here’s what it says:

LET’S DEFLATE THE BIG-BANG HYPOTHESIS
ROGER L. ST. PETER

The hypothesis that the universe is the product of a BIG BANG about ten billion years ago is challenged from several standpoints. It is shown to be in conflict with Einstein’s special theory of relativity, and counter to the law of the conservation of mass-energy. In addition to this, semi-Newtonian calculations are submitted which indicate that the so-called PRIMORDIAL FIREBALL would vigorously collapse rather than violently explode. The gravitational collapse is irreversible by any known natural process, and a BLACK HOLE results. The big bang hypothesis is seen to fail as an explanation of the general expansion of the universe inferred from the galactic red-shift phenomenon.

Well, there’s only so much I can do to answer this challenge without the actual paper at hand, but the three main points seem to be that the Big Bang conflicts with Special Relativity (it most certainly does not), it violates the Conservation of Energy (as energy is not defined in General Relativity, this doesn’t pose a problem), and it asserts that the Universe would recollapse if the Big Bang were correct.

The Universe could have recollapsed, if conditions were right for it, but it also could have expanded and cooled for an arbitrary amount of time. Seeing as how our Universe is still expanding and cooling, I’ll go with that for now, but if anyone has a copy of this, I’d be curious to see whether there are any valid objections.

9. There is not enough antimatter in the universe. This is a big problem for the theorists. The original Big Bang would have produced equal amounts of positive matter (matter) and negative matter (antimatter). But only small amounts of antimatter exist. There should be as much antimatter as matter–if the Big Bang was true. “Since matter and antimatter are equivalent in all respects but that of electromagnetic charge oppositeness, any force [the Big Bang] that would create one should have to create the other, and the universe should be made of equal quantities of each. This is a dilemma. Theory tells us there should be antimatter out there, and observation refuses to back it up.” “We are pretty sure from our observations that the universe today contains matter, but very little if any antimatter.”

(The first quote comes from Isaac Asimov, the second from an American Scientist article.) The Big Bang is thought to produce nearly equal amounts of matter and antimatter; that’s true. And yet, our Universe is 99.9% matter with only a trace of antimatter. How did this happen?

I’ve got two articles on it: here and here. The gist of it is that, in general, you do start with equal amounts of matter and antimatter, but, from that, you need to make slightly more matter (or slightly less antimatter). It turns out that if you have the following three things in place, making different amounts of matter and antimatter is unavoidable:

  1. You need to be able to create or destroy baryons (protons, neutrons, etc.),
  2. You need particles and antiparticles to have slightly different properties from one another (called C-violation and CP-violation), and
  3. You need to be out of thermal equilibrium.

Guess what? The Big Bang is like a factory for these three things. The description of the particles we have in nature — the Standard Model — not only allows for the first one, it happens much more easily at higher energies. (And we’ve never had higher energies in the Universe than the Hot Big Bang gave us!)

The second one was first observed experimentally in 1964, and we now know of many instances that cause it.

And the third one — being out of thermal equilibrium — is exactly what happens when you have a hot, dense Universe that expands and cools! So while we don’t know everything about how to make more matter than antimatter, we have no doubts that this happened, and that it happened perfectly consistently with the Big Bang.

10. The antimatter from the Big Bang would have destroyed all the regular matter. This fact is well-known to physicists. As soon as the two are produced in the laboratory, they instantly come together and annihilate one another.

If you read the answer to #9, you know that this isn’t a problem at all. But let’s see what Einstein said on the matter.

“For every one billion particles of antimatter there were one billion and one particles of matter. And when the mutual annihilation was complete, one billionth remained – and that’s our present universe.” -Albert Einstein

The facts are, of course, that the Big Bang is an incredibly robust theory, and it easily stands up to these objections. In fact, in my opinion, the fact that the Big Bang has something intelligent to say about each of these objections illustrates just what a powerful and consistent idea it is! Of course, you’re free to do what you want with this information. It is my great hope that if you’ve found this page, you’ve come here with a mind open enough to listen and learn.

Whatever beliefs divide us, we all inhabit the same Universe, and its story is the same for all of us. This isn’t my story or yours, it’s the story the Universe tells us about itself. Don’t let misinformation (or even worse, dishonesty) prevent any one of you from enjoying every truth and discovery about it to the fullest! (And send your friends here, too! The information is free!) And I’ll keep playing my part, and doing my best — to the best of my knowledge and abilities — to bring its story to you!

Comments

  1. #1 Rod
    August 9, 2010

    That is fantastic. Thank you very much!

  2. #2 Paulino
    August 9, 2010

    Oh, man! Ethan ignore Hovind, the guy is doing time for tax evasion.

    But please, by all means keep posting all the things that make the Big Bang the best explanation for what we see out there and inside every atom.

    Also a question: How does bouncing universe rank in you confidence scale?

    I’m asking because I went to a public lecture by Mario Novello, who’s published these:

    ANTUNES, V. ; GOULART, E. ; NOVELLO, M. . Gravitational waves in singular and bouncing FLRW universes. Gravitation & Cosmology, v. 15, p. 191-198, 2009

    NOVELLO, M. ; BERGLIAFFA, S. E. P. . Bouncing Cosmologies. Physics Reports, v. 463, p. 127-213, 2008.

    Btw, I’ve found these at the CNPq site (Brazilian NSF) after I looked it up before the lecture to find out who he was.

    http://buscatextual.cnpq.br/buscatextual/visualizacv.jsp?id=E83477

  3. #3 ERV
    August 9, 2010

    Im going to have to change my slang. ‘Oracian length’ posts will now have to be ‘Ethanian length’ posts. HA!

    Beautimus!

  4. #4 Ethan Siegel
    August 9, 2010

    Rod, you’re welcome!

    Paulino, that’s why I took this one on; from the clustering of the billions and billions of galaxies to the inner workings of every atom, everything we know and cherish in this Universe can trace its origins back to the same event 13.7 billion years ago.

    As for your bouncing cosmologies questions, they’re not crazy. It’s just disfavored by the data right now, but there’s no reason, in principle, why the Universe couldn’t go through cycles on much larger timescales than the 13.7 billion years we’ve been privy to.

    Abbie (or ERV), gimme a break! This is the longest post I’ve ever written, and that’s out of, like, 500?! (I’m pooped after this one, BTW!)

  5. #5 Physicalist
    August 9, 2010

    a. You’re never going to be able to educate a Hovind (but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us don’t enjoy your posts).

    b. You say, “it isn’t an “explosion” at all,” which is true. But then we have the NSF poll T/F question “The universe began with a huge explosion.” Maybe the 67% of the population that answered “False” were just recognizing your point (though probably not).

    c. Question about how you use the term “Big Bang”: Is it currently acceptable to refer to a “Big Bang Singularity”? Is it still thought that there is an initial singularity (at least in the sense that timelike paths terminate 13.7 billion years in the past, even if curvature isn’t well-defined, or what have you)?

    I ask because you refer to the Big Bang as following inflation, but I refer to the initial singularity (which is obviously pre-inflation) as the Big Bang Singularity. I’m no cosmologist, but I’d like to be speaking correctly.

  6. #6 Bill C.
    August 9, 2010

    As delightful as this post may be, I’d wager no scientifically possible explanation will actually satisfy the article’s author. Despite much verbal gyration and contortion, his/her entire objection to the Big Bang theory seems to be predicated on the theory’s inability to explain what came “before” and thus caused the Big Bang (I’ve a strong suspicion his/her answer may emphatically be God, but I digress…).

    To that end, I would have liked to have seen a stronger focus, in the spirit of what we do and do not know, on how time, physics, causality and our very notion of the way reality works break down as we reach inflation and the singularity beyond. Part of what blows my mind (in a great way) about the Big Bang is its very specific definition of “nothingness” (which the original author obviously fails to grasp). It’s not just empty space waiting to be filled up by an explosion from nowhere, like throwing up stars into the sky; it is the complete absence of reality – beyond the Hot Big Bang, there is no dimension or mechanism for experience and perception as we, in any and every way, understand them. There is no existence of which we could possibly conceive.

    I think some people really have trouble grasping how perfectly caged we are by the beautiful totality that we call space-time. I blame DC Comics.

  7. #7 Physicalist
    August 9, 2010

    no scientifically possible explanation will actually satisfy the article’s author.

    Certainly true. The author was presumably Eric Hovind, son of Kent Hovind (a tax-evading jailbird, as Paulino mentioned). They’re both fantastically ignorant young-Earth creationists (and they’re unfortunately well known, the elder as “Dr. Dino” due to a diploma mill “PhD”).

  8. #8 Bobby van Deusen
    August 9, 2010

    Don’t you just love the bit about’armchair mathmatics’? I’ll bet you a quarter that the author of this pablum never got past geometry I. If it was Eric Hovind, you’re next pal, the IRS is on you like ugly on an ape. Stop preying on folks who are marginally stupider than you and pay your taxes. Sheesh. The only thing that chaps my ass worse than this kind of stuff are the lunar landing deniers. They’re in a class of their own. cheers, bobby

  9. #9 JD
    August 10, 2010

    Ethan, I typically love all your posts, but this one’s especially brilliant. I love that you took all that ignorant rambling and turned it into an engaging, informative lesson. It really picked me up at the end of an 11-hour day in the lab to be able to see this kind of alchemy in action.

  10. #10 Sphere Coupler
    August 10, 2010

    Excellent post…bravo, one of your best.
    It read fluently and concise and before I knew it, it was done.
    Now to read again, incorporating the links provided.

  11. #11 links of london
    August 10, 2010

    Don’t you just love the bit about’armchair mathmatics’? I’ll bet you a quarter that the author of this pablum never got past geometry I. If it was Eric Hovind, you’re next pal, the IRS is on you like ugly on an ape.
    http://www.linksestore.com/

  12. #12 Don Rowe
    August 10, 2010

    Brilliant Ethan! I particularly love the eternally optimistic way in which you dissected the CSE page, all the while assuming innocent misunderstanding. :P

    Congratulations on making it to a new PB for post length, too. :)

  13. #13 Raskolnikov
    August 10, 2010

    “George Lemaitre, a Belgium”

    IT’S BELGIAN! FOR ****’S SAKE! BELGIUM IS THE COUNTRY’S NAME.

    Forget about the science, this was the most damnable error. Burn in hell Dr. Dino!

  14. #14 csrster
    August 10, 2010

    Sometimes I think that the real conceptual problem some people have with the BB is that astrophysicists tend to think about the BB in reverse time – ie take what we see today and extrapolate it backwards as far as possible with known or postulated physics. Lay people, otoh, always want to start “at the beginning”, which is a much harder problem.

  15. #15 Jonathan Lee
    August 10, 2010

    When it’s *Mr* Kent Hovind or associates on the big bang, it bears pointing out that Hovind Snr had it confused with the formation of stars from nebulae, hence the whole “collapsing spinning dense things” schtick. I hate to think what his kid thinks is the official cosmology of the atheistic-darwinistic conspiracy.

    Also: “Honest misunderstanding” only goes so far – these clowns have been repeatedly told precisely where they are wrong and what they have misunderstood; it would appear that they do not care for accuracy.

    For those with time to burn, there’s a youtube series called “CRAP debunked” by AndromedasWake that goes through this (and similar screeds by others) in more detail than I could.

  16. #16 David Marjanović
    August 10, 2010

    But 10145 g/cm3 isn’t 100 trillion times the density of water; it’s a billion trillion trillion trillion googol times the density of water

    Best way to begin a day I’ve ever had. :-)

    BTW, did you forget to include the alt-text to the xkcd comic, or is that just my browser not liking the ScienceBlogs stylesheet?

    And from the creationist abstract downward, the entire page is centered. There’s an unclosed tag on the loose somewhere.

  17. #17 M van den Berg
    August 10, 2010

    Very nice article!

    I have one somewhat related question though (note: I am not a physicist):

    Space and time are linked together, so, if space stretches so does time, or at the very least, something happens with time, as far as I understand. So, if we say that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, how is that measured? Do we take the time change into account? Or do simply calculate it correcting for said time change?

  18. #18 Douglas Watts
    August 10, 2010

    Space and time are linked together, so, if space stretches so does time, or at the very least, something happens with time, as far as I understand.

    I think you’re confusing the expansion of space via inflation with the curvature of space-time due to gravity, ie. a massive object.

  19. #19 M van den Berg
    August 10, 2010

    @ Douglas Watts

    1) Ah yes, I forgot about that distinction.
    2) Still, it seems that if space-time can be curved, having an impact on time, so would expansion, no?

    Well, probably not, since I am sure some clever guy thought of this way before I did.

    Anyway, on a note related to the article:

    Convincing these people is nice, but rather futile. I remember reading something by the American Academy of Sciences on the interaction between science and the public.

    As we all know, a lot of scientists think that the public won’t accept their conclusions because of a lack of education. However, they found that although this may be true to some degree, the main predictor of someone’s opinion of a polarized issue (Global warming, Evolution, etc.) is their belief set (religion, political views, and so on).

    Link: http://www.amacad.org/pdfs/scientistsUnderstand.pdf

    Note: It’s been a while since I read the study, so all information should be verified before use. :-p

  20. #20 Tom Campbell-Ricketts
    August 10, 2010

    Hi Ethan,

    Nice debunking.

    One thing confuses me, though. You said that the universe is “old, but not infinitely so.” What I understood from this previous article of yours, though, is that an inflating universe may have existed for an infinitely long time before the big bang. At least thats what I infer from the thesis that the universe may not have originated from a singularity.

    Am I misunderstanding something?

    Cheers,
    Tom

  21. #21 Raging Bee
    August 10, 2010

    Does pathological YEC liar Salvador “Wormtongue” Cordova have any connection to this? Last I heard, he was trying to pretend the Big Bang Theory was doomed (just like evolution has been doomed for the last 150+ years. remember?).

    What really puzzles me is, why would people who (allegedly) believe in a Creator God want to attack the Big Bang Theory? Nothing in science — and I mean NOTHING — screams “And God said, Let there be Light!” like the Big Bang. This is one scientific theory that people of all faiths should be embracing with all their hearts and minds.

  22. #22 Tacroy
    August 10, 2010

    It seems like the author is the sort of person who, upon hearing that the Universe is expanding, wonders what it’s expanding into – and instead of doing some more research to figure out that it’s expanding like a balloon, not like a drop of oil on a hot skillet, he just calls up the President of Physics and says “You’ve got everything wrong!”

  23. #23 rpenner
    August 10, 2010

    NCSE archives in Oakland, California might have a copy of “Creation Research Science Quarterly” from the 1970′s.

    http://ncse.com/resources/archives

  24. #24 Mike
    August 10, 2010

    Another great post, Ethan. And a great deconstruction of what amounts to creationist (insert appropriate adjective here) BS.

    The sad thing is that you even need to address these “objections” to the Big Bang. The even sadder thing is that the people reading that site and buying into it’s message will never read this site and this deconstruction.

    -M

  25. #25 Karl
    August 10, 2010

    We may have different standards for “heinous”. In the very first paragraph you cited from “Why the Big Bang Won’t Work” is a glaring red flag:

    It theorizes that a large quantity of nothing decided to pack tightly together…

    (Emphasis added)

    As soon as I see language like that in a site purporting to debunk mainstream science, I suspect it’s a site that attempts to make the case for the Intelligent Design / Intelligent Origin Theory (ID/IOT).

    As has been noted, the domain belongs to one Ken Hovind, noted Young-Earth Creationist.

  26. #26 IanW
    August 10, 2010

    Hey you guys! Don’t be dissing Kent Hovind! The man is one of the best stand-up comedians the world has ever known, and he’s done sterling work in highlighting how fundamentally stupid creationism is.

    I won’t hear a word against him!

  27. #27 MadScientist
    August 10, 2010

    @ERV: But did Ethan hook you into reading the lot? :P

    I was going to ask if the author of the “Why it won’t work” was religious (they get terribly upset at the thought that god isn’t needed to do anything) or if they’re a full-fledged loon upset that some more ancient sage was being forgotten due to some contemporary scientist; but several folks have suggested it’s the work of Hovind which would put this in the category of “It can’t work because it doesn’t have god fiddling things”.

  28. #28 Wayside
    August 10, 2010

    Well done sir, well done.

  29. #29 scidog
    August 11, 2010

    i’ll add my “Well Done”..now what we need is a set of flash cards like that. we can flip out one that fits a nutty retort to the Bang and save ourselves a lot of time and energy.

  30. #30 who is your creator
    August 11, 2010

    In regard to #14:
    “Sometimes I think that the real conceptual problem some people have with the BB is that astrophysicists tend to think about the BB in reverse time – ie take what we see today and extrapolate it backwards as far as possible with known or postulated physics. Lay people, otoh, always want to start “at the beginning”, which is a much harder problem.”

    No, the problem people have is the utter lack of proof or rational that substantiates such nonsense. This is religious humanism as its finest!

  31. #31 Lloyd Hargrove
    August 11, 2010

    Ethan, this one could be your opus magnus, at least for this Starts with a Bang site. Love the cartoon.

  32. #32 OKThen
    August 11, 2010

    Are creationists the best skeptics that you can find? I mean the web site proclaims, “No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and science, can be valid if it contradicts Scripture.”

    You call the Big Bang theory the “Greatest Story Ever Told.” Are you replacing religious dogma with scientific dogma; which may explain why your witch hunt against religious skeptics rather than scientific skeptics?

    “Photons, known better as light, were the most dominant form of energy in the Universe for the first few thousand years.” Does that mean that the electromagnetic force was the driving force of the inflationary universe?

    But your “cosmic inflation” link says “This is just like an inside-out black hole metric” for the inflation formula. Does that mean that inflation is an antigravity force? Which is inflation, electromagnetic or antigravity?

    Also is our big bang universe the only big bang universe or is it part of a multiverse of baby universe and other big bang universes of various physical properties? And are any of those other universes antimatter or even dark matter universes?

  33. #33 AngelGabriel
    August 11, 2010

    All creationists aren’t against the big bang; here what vatican astronmer says about big bing.
    http://www.physorg.com/news10311.html

    And extraterrestria;ls.
    http://www.universetoday.com/44713/vatican-holds-conference-on-extraterrestrial-life/

    So don’t mock religious beliefs

  34. #34 circleh
    August 11, 2010

    Have you ever heard of Eric J. Lerner? He wrote a book in the early 1990s title The Big Bang Never Happened. I wonder what happened to that crackpot.

  35. #35 Thomas Neil Neubert
    August 11, 2010

    The interesting idea in Eric Lerner’s book is his claim that large structures in the universe are determined by electromagnetic or magnetic currents of galactic if not cosmic proportions. But I’ve never found any evidence supporting or denying his ideas. So having no knowledge to form an opinion, I remain silent on the topic.

    But since you mention Eric Lerner; what is the current state of the astronomy and cosmology of electromagnetic and magnetic currents at the galactic and cosmic level. Obviously, there are solar storms and the deflection of charged particles by the Earths magnetic field. But at a galactic level; do we know anything? Are we able to make observations and find nothing? or are we just not able to make observations from Earth or satellite?

  36. #36 The Gear Head Skeptic
    August 11, 2010

    Thanks Ethan! That was a great read. Thanks for sticking with it when I’m sure it made you want to run away screaming at times. Some of the sections you quoted made MY head want to explode with rage and dismay, I can only imagine what you had to endure. The shocking lack of even the most fundamental understanding of the theory is amazing.

  37. #37 Jodie Gallo
    August 11, 2010

    Brilliant post, considering how patient one has to be in order to debunk creationist pseudo-science.

    But here is a curiosity: Whether God wrote Genesis or some ancient Rabbi did, while “weeping by the waters of Babylon”, isn’t it amazing that the first thing God creates in the Genesis story is light?

    It took science another 2500 years to figure that out!

    It’s like the Greeks deriving the atom with nothing but logic.

    Its almost as if by introspection some can “remember” the path by which they came to be. But then it takes thousands of years to sort out the details.

  38. #38 John Roberts
    August 12, 2010

    Great post Ethan. Now you deserve a rest and an ice cream or something. And I love “Hot Big Bang” by the way. Was it hot at the very beginning or just a trillionth of a second (or so) later?

  39. #39 OKThen
    August 12, 2010

    Nothing more crackpot than debunking crackpots. But Ethan you do deserve an ice cream

  40. #40 Setar
    August 12, 2010

    #32: “You call the Big Bang theory the “Greatest Story Ever Told.” Are you replacing religious dogma with scientific dogma; which may explain why your witch hunt against religious skeptics rather than scientific skeptics?”
    Since when does one post refuting a pseudoscientific argument based on a giant misconception of the Big Bang constitute a “witch hunt”?

  41. #41 crd2
    August 12, 2010

    @40: Guess I’ll extinguish the torch and put the shovel back in the barn. Now what am i going to do with all this fire wood?

    I’m glad i started reading your blog back when you first started The Greatest Story Ever Told series, otherwise i think this article would have seemed a bit long and slightly over my head. Nice to finally be able to read along week in and week out with out 47 hyperlink pit stops to figure out what WMAP, black body radiation, and the schwartzchild radius are.

  42. #42 10,000li
    August 12, 2010

    While our host picked a site apparently developed by creationists of some sort, why did he not address the scientific alternatives to the big bang, such as the hypotheses proposed by Steinhardt and Turok, Caroll and Chen and Barbour and Anderson?

    Like many other writers on ScienceBlogs, our host suffers from that same, “Look at me! I’m so much smarter than those fundie believers!” self-aggrandizement that drips from nearly everything written by PZ and Orac (to name but two). The comments continue to kick the same dead horse as if finding out that creationists misrepresent science is a big shock.

    I can see why most of the good bloggers left SB.

    This was a very interesting and educational piece, but would have been of much better service if it was addressed to the alternative ideas proposed by other astrophysicists.

  43. #43 OKThen
    August 12, 2010

    I second 10,000li, #42′s recommendation to discuss the ideas of Steinhardt and Turok(the model is motivated by M-theory, branes and extra-dimensions-yummy), Caroll and Chen (In the absence of inflation, we argue that systems coupled to gravity usually evolve asymptotically to the vacuum-burp) and Barbour and Anderson (We have created a scale-invariant theory very like general relativity but with perfect relativity of size.-excuse me).

    Personally, I like to watch people trying to ride a dead horse; but there’s more fun and challenge in trying to understand the ideas of fringe astrophysicists.

  44. #44 granular
    August 12, 2010

    I think Eric Lerner (“The Big Bang Never Happened”) was trying to produce a popular exposition of the cosmology of Hannes Alfven, who thought that giant electric currents, like bolts of lightning millions of light years long, are constantly passing through a static cosmos. I forget how he accounted for the cosmic background radiation, etc.

  45. #45 rob
    August 12, 2010

    i agree with 10,000i. Ethan *should* devote some time to explaining scientific alternatives to the BB. it would be very interesting and educational.

    however, it is necessary to call bullshit on the bullshit theories that crackpots attempt to present as viable alternatives to accepted theories.

    Ethan FTW!

  46. #46 Vicki
    August 12, 2010

    Jodie Gallo–

    It might be amazing, if that’s what the book actually said. “created the heavens and the Earth…without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” That’s a story in which Earth came before light, not one that starts with light.

  47. #47 John Roberts
    August 12, 2010

    @46 Vicki — The ancient Zoroastrians believed a timeless creator started the universe by first creating time. What a concept for people 6000 years ago.

  48. #48 10,000li
    August 13, 2010

    JR,

    If we sruvey all the ancient creation myths, we will surely find at least one that can be interpreted to be scientifically OK. If we then look at other ideas of that particular tradition (such as Zoroastrianism), how many of their other claims about the physical universe match what we’ve discovered through science? Not enough, I’ll warrant, for any of their correct claims to be more than lucky guesses.

  49. #49 Ned Wright
    August 14, 2010

    Ethan,

    When you take a figure from my cosmology tutorial, you should credit me appropriately. The figure cosmo250.gif has been plagiarized from http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmo_04.htm

  50. #50 Ethan Siegel
    August 14, 2010

    Ned,

    Thanks for the tip; you’ve been credited!

  51. #51 Jodie Gallo
    August 15, 2010

    @46 Aw common Vicki, work with me here.

    At first we get heavens and earth all jumbled together, formless and void, and darkness over the surface of a void… give the guy some poetic license! Have you ever seen the surface of a void? The word in Hebrew is more like the hole made by a gaping mouth, or so I am told.

    I think its a really cool description of what comes before light.

  52. #52 Dario Nunez-Ameni
    August 15, 2010

    Thanks for this post, very well written.

    I read though most of the comments but not all so I’m not sure if anyone asked this question already:

    If it wasn’t an explosion, why call it a bang?

    Do we know at what speed the expansion happened? is the rate of expansion of the universe a constant?

    Or rather at what speed it was happening at say, 1 second ABB?

    Is there any chart you could point me to that shows when, during the known life of the universe, did the rest of the elements appear?

    Thanks again for your Blog!

  53. #53 AngelGabriel
    August 16, 2010

    How many universes, dimensions, particles can emerge or be swallowed by a singularity is the same question as how many angels can sit on the head of a pin? Same “prophet”, only the mythology has been updated.

    I agree with John Roberts #47, some of the ancients were philosophers of the first order. A good myth give humankind a idea about how to live (morality, technology) or our place in the universe (philosophy, ecology).

    Well yes, some ancients same as some modern artists and scientists focus on making a “profit” by being a “prophet” (or marketing someone else as a “prophet” for a “profit”, e.g. van Gogh). Whether such dogma is good for art or science depends.

    But knowledge grows by processes of observation, lucky guesses (hypotheses), checking (what works), and repeating; not by dogma.

    Thus no matter how good the dogma, someday angels and big bangs will be as obsolete as arrow heads and nuclear weapons.

  54. #54 Steve
    August 25, 2010

    The Big Bang theory is based on theoretical extremes. It may look good in math calculations, but it can’t actually happen. A tiny bit of nothing packed so tightly together that it blew up and produced all the matter in the universe. Seriously now, this is a fairy tale. It is a bunch of armchair calculations, and nothing else. It is easy to theorize on paper. The Big Bang is a theoretical extreme, just as is a black hole. It is easy to theorize that something is true, when it has never been seen and there is no definitive evidence that it exists or ever happened. But let us not mistake Disneyland theories for science.
    Nothingness cannot pack together. It would have no way to push itself into a pile.
    A vacuum has no density. It is said that the nothingness got very dense, and that is why it exploded. But a total vacuum is the opposite of total density.
    There would be no ignition to explode nothingness. No fire and no match. It could not be a chemical explosion, for no chemicals existed. It could not be a nuclear explosion, for there were no atoms!
    There is no way to expand it. How can you expand what isn’t there? Even if that magical vacuum could somehow be pulled together by gravity, what would then cause the pile of emptiness to push outward? The “gravity” which brought it together would keep it from expanding.
    Nothingness cannot produce heat. The intense heat caused by the exploding nothingness is said to have changed the nothingness into protons, neutrons, and electrons. First, an empty vacuum in the extreme cold of outer space cannot get hot by itself. Second, an empty void cannot magically change itself into matter. Third, there can be no heat without an energy source.
    The calculations are too exacting. Too perfect an explosion would be required. On many points, the theoretical mathematical calculations needed to turn a Big Bang into stars and our planet cannot be worked out; in others they are too exacting. Knowledgeable scientists call them “too perfect.” Mathematical limitations would have to be met which would be next to impossible to achieve. The limits for success are simply too narrow. Most aspects of the theory are impossible, and some require parameters that would require miracles to fulfill. One example of this is the expansion of the original fireball from the Big Bang, which they place precisely within the narrowest of limits. An evolutionist astronomer, R.H. Dicke, says it well: “If the fireball had expanded only .1 percent faster, the present rate of expansion would have been 3 x 103 times as great. Had the initial expansion rate been 0.1 percent less, the Universe would have expanded to only 3 x 10-6 of its present radius before collapsing. At this maximum radius the density of ordinary matter would have been 10-12 grm/m3, over 1016 times as great as the present mass density. No stars could have formed in such a Universe, for it would not have existed long enough to form stars.”2
    Such an equation would have produced not a universe but a hole. *Roger L. St. Peter in 1974 developed a complicated mathematical equation that showed that the theorized Big Bang could not have exploded out- ward into hydrogen and helium. In reality, St. Peter says the theoretical explosion (if one could possibly take place) would fall back on itself and make a theoretical black hole! This means that one imaginary object would swallow an- other one!
    There is not enough antimatter in the universe. This is a big problem for the theorists. The original Big Bang would have produced equal amounts of positive matter (matter) and negative matter (antimatter). But only small amounts of antimatter exist. There should be as much antimatter as matter—if the Big Bang was true. “Since matter and antimatter are equivalent in all respects but that of electromagnetic charge oppositeness, any force [the Big Bang] that would create one should have to create the other, and the universe should be made of equal quantities of each. This is a dilemma. Theory tells us there should be antimatter out there, and observation refuses to back it up.”3 “We are pretty sure from our observations that the universe today contains matter, but very little if any antimatter.”4
    The antimatter from the Big Bang would have destroyed all the regular matter. This fact is well-known to physicists. As soon as the two are produced in the laboratory, they instantly come together and annihilate one another.

  55. #55 Sriram
    August 25, 2010

    Beautiful!

  56. #56 Ana
    September 26, 2010

    I’m glad that the first comment stressed Mario Novello’s work.
    He doesn’t have a blog full of adds, he’s not at twitter of Facebook, he doesn’t have a curriculum to speak to his peers, he is doing science.
    I second 10.000.

  57. #57 Ana
    September 26, 2010

    Wow!
    Thank you for this link to XKCD: http://www.xkcd.com/386/
    This is funny and I will take some of their cartoons.
    I got something interesting here.

  58. #58 AngelGabriel
    October 1, 2010

    Steve, ditto

    The big bang theory has to be too miraculously perfect and has too many problems (e.g. missing antimatter) to be correct.

    But the big bang theory has political momentum (i.e. scientific dogma); and it is better to jump on the bandwagon than be run over by it (i.e. untenured).

  59. #59 Katie
    October 10, 2010

    Based on the evidence written in this blog, I would have to say that the understanding of the “Big Bang Theory” still evades scientists today. It doesn’t make much sense that our galaxy was created by a vast amount of “nothingness.” Being a ninth grader, I’ve been taught that matter CANNOT be either created or destroyed. But if the occassion occurs that matter CAN be created, wouldn’t there be antimatter created in the process? Like everything else, it has to have an opposite. But being a fragile substance that it is, what has happened to it? Where has the antimatter gone?

  60. #60 computer repair sarasota
    November 3, 2010

    This article really stirred up some strong opinions. The debate over the origins of everything we know will continue no doubt far into the future.

  61. #61 Brian Wiler
    November 29, 2010

    I’ve been giving the big bang a lot of thought. I’ve also been approaching the problem scientificly (observation, theory, test). My observations have led me to believe that the Big Bang doesn’t hold water. It is a shortcut that is blinding science form looking at what really happened and is still.
    I have a theroy that not only explains how the universe began but is observable in the lab. What do you have?

  62. #62 NJ
    November 29, 2010

    Steve @ 54:

    {cut and paste from Kent Hovind Website}

    It seems to have escaped your notice that the original post was all about addressing (and demonstrating to be incorrect) the ideas on that exact page.

    We do realize, out here in reality, that reading for comprehension is not a strong suit of creationists, but do at least try to keep up…

  63. #63 Pandora Bracelets
    November 30, 2010

    Like everything else, it has to have an opposite. But being a fragile substance that it is, what has happened to it? Where has the antimatter gone?

  64. #64 linksoflondonoutlets
    December 9, 2010

    My observations have led me to believe that the Big Bang doesn’t hold water. It is a shortcut that is blinding science form looking at what really happened and is still.

  65. #65 uggs outlet
    December 17, 2010

    But if the occassion occurs that matter CAN be created, wouldn’t there be antimatter created in the process? Like everything else, it has to have an opposite. But being a fragile substance that it is, what has happened to it? Where has the

  66. #66 dianica
    March 10, 2011

    this is just widthstannding, whoever believes this is just so lost, GOD created everything! the reason why the scientist cannot figure anything out is because obviously its not true and they dk who the real creater is. well let me tell you again it is GOD!!!

  67. #67 samothraki
    March 30, 2011

    To dianica,

    Have you thought that God, in His infinite benevolence, has provided humans with the capability to understand the physics behind His creation of the universe? Since He created humans in His image, one could imagine that He gave us the ability to understand divine knowledge.

    And, FYI, creator — not creater.

  68. #68 Timberwoof
    March 31, 2011

    Detractors of the Big Bang theory talk as though it is just the result of a lot of speculation. Perhaps some astrophysicists sat down for tea and crumpets and conspired to create this wild story. But that’s not how the theory came to be.

    Let’s talk about evidence for a moment. The most important evidence was gathered by astronomer Edwin Hubble, for whom the Hubble Space Telescope was named: the universe is expanding. Galaxies are moving away from us and from each other in a nice linear relationship. The farther away they are, the faster they are moving away. And there’s nothing special about how the universe looks from here; it would look the same way everywhere. If you work the distances and speeds backwards, you conclude that all the galaxies were right here 13 billion years ago.

    Clearly something happened 13 billion years ago to set all that in motion. Now it turns out that a number of other independent lines of evidence all contribute to refining the Big Bang theory, filling in the details. (Do Ethan the courtesy of reading the article. He answered many of the questions recently posted.) It’s not a matter of dogma or politics. Just people following the evidence to the truth.

    linksoflondonoutlets, you say you have observations that will alter our thoughts on the Big Bang. Care to share them with us?

    Speaking of observations, I can’t think of any that would confirm or deny the existence of God, or show that he did or did not create the universe. No scientific experiment you can think of could show anything either way about God … so a perfectly logical conclusion is that God does not exist. Since God cannot be understood, saying that God did it does not add any knowledge. Sorry, Dianica and Samothraki: You have to have evidence to convince me.

  69. #69 Wow
    March 31, 2011

    “GOD created everything!”

    Including God?

    Who’s his daddy?

  70. #70 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    April 2, 2011

    Creationism and other theology, what fun.

    # 59:

    Being a ninth grader, I’ve been taught that matter CANNOT be either created or destroyed.

    In 9th grade we had studied relativity and, I’m fairly sure, at least discussed matter destroying everyday chemical and nuclear reactions superficially. Since energy release means the sum of matter constituents mass goes down. It happens in your body all the time!

    # 68:

    Speaking of observations, I can’t think of any that would confirm or deny the existence of God, or show that he did or did not create the universe. No scientific experiment you can think of could show anything either way about God

    That is a thoroughly theological claim, which doesn’t bear on the question whether physical systems is all there is. To work backwards:

    - “No scientific experiment”: Specific gods can be rejected on empirical claims. Also, the mass of evidence, or the simple fact that there are many varieties of such claims, import statistical weight toward the general claim of any god.

    - “show … create the universe”: Modern knowledge of natural pathways means, as Hawking notes, that creator agents are unnecessary (as well as ludicrous in the first place). Parsimoniously, they have to be rejected.

    - “confirm or deny the existence of God”: Today this is testable. Sometime around 70′s- 80′s the accumulated mass of test of natural theories allows for a binomial test of monism (say, as natural systems share energy conservation). You need some ~ 250 000 tests, which the exponential increase of papers allowed at a current clip of ~ 600 000/year and assuming 1/10th containing actual tests.

    Dualism in general can now firmly be rejected at more than 3 sigma for testing the theory of physicalism (Carroll’s term). Specifically, religious dualisms fall with it.

    Can we please put down the fanciful religious claims and start discuss verifiable reality any time soon? For one thing, we now _know for a fact_ that physical reality is all of reality.

  71. #71 Sphere Coupler
    April 3, 2011

    Comment 37

    “Its almost as if by introspection some can “remember” the path by which they came to be.”

    I’ve also thought this and I(or others?) have even given it a name, primordial memory, there are times when we are able to come to conclusions that it would seem some of us possess an ability to harvest such deep memory, yet that ability is inconclusive and is more likely derived from living and experiencing the laws of nature first hand (since our birth and every day afterwards) including all of our known senses, and perhaps ingrained senses that we are not totally aware of yet and pulled from a long forgotten interior human data base unconsciously brought forth by a triggering from external sources.

    Given the fact that it is difficult to see (analyze) a medium while submersed in same medium, it is no wonder that it can take so long to truly recognize the deep understanding of what we experience everyday. Observing such medium while submersed in same medium can lead to illusion. That is the very reason that many views are needed to be able to conceptualize the whole, the only other way to do this is to step outside the Universe physically and experience it from this perspective (not possible as of today). So the larger amount of competing, yet experimentally completed models coupled together will give us the most complete analysis and a harder concrete reality. The days (of my theory is totally correct and yours is incomplete and therefore invalid) are gone. The combination of terms or the coupling of concepts has always been a fruitful Endeavour and with the ability of today’s increasing segment of informed humanity =mass of cognition and the amount & availability of technologies =mass of ability does advance us and will yet advance us further than at any other time in known history. There is much information that has been achieved and is stored in databases that can be cross utilized but the system of focused education in one specific area, as is the norm and has been for many generations, ties our (hands?)…Minds. Granted focused education IS a very impotent endeavor and must be continued, it is also imperative to educate (or include)a portion of the human mass in the general conductance of actions, these actions can be considered systems within systems, of course as you know from my moniker I favor the term Sphere Coupling.

    I’m a skeptic on the matter of primordial memory, yet I think I’ll leave that door open for awhile. It would be very hard to meet a human whose input was exactly known, to be able to derive whether primordial memory is a primary mover. Easier to define is that cognition and experience is the primary factor, you have to take into account that information can be accumulated, and processed at different levels, speeds, with full detail or misremembered, ability to couple etc etc etc.

    Yet it may very well be impossible to acquire all the variables to come to a definite conclusion, primordial memory may be an illusion in so much as nature tends to be stubborn to release it’s operational parameters.

    That answer would probably be in the realm of the neuroscientist in discovering a evolutionary thought pattern.

  72. #72 Sphere Coupler
    April 3, 2011

    Ethan, Comment in your buffer.

  73. #73 Sphere Coupler
    April 3, 2011

    Well Ethan is probably out enjoying the day, as I should be too, aaand not wanting to wait…I’ll divide.

    Keeping the spirit of my last comment close in mind we must remember that along with the data derived from our observations of incoming collection from our external sensors (telescopes, particle accelerators, etc. actually too numerous to mention here) we have a confliction of actions. We see the ever expansion of space and we see the ever coalescence of matter, two actions that on the surface seem to conflict unless taken on differing scales. The information we collect from our long range scanners (by this I mean our ability to clean out local scale info to derive non-local scale phenomena) indicates that the expansion is occurring in the present, yet the information we receive is only a record of what once was, as it takes this info Time to reach us. I think the consensus is that gravity can not travel faster than light and if it did we may have a different outlook on our existence. Let me explain, If the far parts of the Universe (those not local)have had enough time to coalesce then the Dark energy we conceive may very well be a mixture of expansion and contraction of matter on a Universal scale. What we see in our local frame of Earth orbiting the sun, Sun orbiting the Milky way, Milky way orbiting the barycenter of the local galactic cluster, The Local cluster orbiting the barycenter of the Virgo Supercluster, leads one to experience coalescence on a grander scale. The continued matter coalescence interrupted by phenomena (we see this on a local scale as a second generation star or is it third? I can’t remember) such as supernova and insufficient massed black hole matter may only be a delay in the logical total accumulation of matter on the Supercluster scale or beyond. (As far as I know Hawking radiation has it’s limits as to how big a Black Hole/BH has to be to make HR irrelevant).

    As our local frame grows, so too does our understanding of the whole.

  74. #74 Sphere Coupler
    April 3, 2011

    So given the coupling of the seemingly conflicting views expansion and contraction, I would logically come to the conclusion that BH population must increase in time, though logic can not be our only tool in the box, yet to follow this discourse further we could hypothesis that in some vast? point in the Universal future BH population may be the predominate form of matter, not the homogenized radiation that today’s science presently allows us to formulate. The dissipation of BH’s is closely tied to the relationship of BH and WMAP thermodynamics.
    Penrose and Hawking conclude that the temperature of the background diminishes then BH radiation will increase. Smaller Black Holes diminish faster.

    As time continues the size of BH’s should also continue even after all other phenomena such as violent relaxation have played their part.
    When BH mass grows to a significant point in a significant environment it will override any phenomena that we can presently, positively derive. Nothing will stop the eventual coalesce.
    In conclusion and in my speculatory view it would seem that at this point in time the coupled views lead to the coalesce on the Universal scale and this may not be visible by any means that we possess at this time, yet drawing on just this limited data that we have, it is possible that we are in a dominate phase of coalesce and if that is the case, if Dark matter is detected then it may be a gauge in which we can derive the actual (not observable) condition of the Universe. Just as a BH will radiate away if the background radiation drops and then regarding a distance determination, then too perhaps dark matter will coalesce into normal matter in a recycling effect on Universal time scales played out on galactic scales. The space between BH‘s may eventually over ride the previous relationship with it’s environment and the WMAP may only be a relic of what once was…
    The key to understanding the eventual fate of this Universe may lie with our understanding of the relationship between DM and it’s present and future environment.
    The amount of time for a supermassive BH to evaporate compared to the continued coalesce is probably the closest race we will ever come across (assuming complete data)and the prevailing info at this time states that expansion rivals contraction, it’s still early in the race. Hell, by all practical analysis we are just out of the gate.

  75. #75 Sphere Coupler
    April 3, 2011

    There are many systems within systems that temporarily, (temporarily on Universal time scales) inhibit a monoculture of BH mass, If such mass is achieved then a singularity has been achieved, a singularity of form, a singularity of time, A singularity is not necessarily a singularity of location. A singularity in respect to spacetime. When a over all BH (singularity) is dominate over all the vast reaches of space then, only then will final coalesce be achieved and the result of this final coalesce with a specific amount of previously gravitation bound matter versus the remnants of non-gravitationally bound phenomena, gravitation will cease and when you have a lack of gravity then the most powerful form of expansion can occur…

    Wait for it…

    Inflation!

    Even Sir Steven Hawking contends that size matters, Is it not conceivable that a super massive BH as the predominate form of mass will grossly curve the vast distance of spacetime in the future?

    The big freeze or big rip and heat death cannot be possible if the Universe contains these structural relationships.
    Observations alone can be an illusion and spacetime may evolve to allow other results.
    .
    Everything eventually recycles and you should too.
    That’s my view.
    Sphere Coupler

  76. #76 Sphere Coupler
    April 3, 2011

    aaaand, if I may make a prediction

    (which I think is in line with today’s consensus)

    Someday Ethan might rename his blog

    Starts with a Bang Inflation

    Though how do you get such an ingrained easily recognisable and for lack of better words Catchy term as Big Bang out of the public consciousness and replace it with a more accurate terminology?

  77. #77 nick
    October 20, 2011

    thanks for clarifying words I can show to my non physicist friends

  78. #78 pasquinel
    December 12, 2011

    I stopped reading after the first example…here’s why…the “big bang” is not in my mind an impossible explanation of the universe’s beginning, however, scientists can with all their understanding only explain something in terms of what they can see, smell or touch. They cannot begin to explain what set the table for their theory. What created the matter, what was the source of the energy? Impossible to explain, sorta like God wouldn’t ya say. Everything broke down I’ll bet breaks down to energy and from there, a thought, God’s thought. It’s what makes sense. Maybe one day, if we’re lucky, we’ll be in a place or frame of mind to understand God, obviously that place and is not here or now.

  79. #79 John Mertens
    January 2, 2012

    Thanks to all of you bloggers> I have enjoyed reading every one of them. It reminded me of Dean Martin’s “Roasts” on TV years ago. You can buy them now. They are being advertised on TV. I have laughed my tonsils off, being polite about it, reading your blogs and the “The Greatest Story ever Told”. Great Comedy all around. Please keep it up. Thanks to all of you.
    jvmert

  80. #80 Robert
    January 4, 2012

    You did a pretty good job of demolishing most of the “science” in the posting you objected to – yet I think it´s misleading to imply that we´re on our way to discovering why there is a universe here at all. I don´t think we have any more idea on that than people had 500 years ago. I think the Big Bang Theory says that before the singularity that preceded BB there was nothing at all – no matter, no energy, no space and no time. Then, for no reason, suddenly the singularity was there. The “no reason” is, of course, important. If there was a reason, then that preceded the singularity.

    I once emailed two cosmologists (who had written papers that were published on the internet), listing some of the things about the working of the Universe that seem pretty creepy to me. The list included watches ticking at different rates according to our movement; why “bent” spacetime should make me fall towards the Earth´s centre if I step out of a hovering helicopter (and what exactly is bending); the results of the 2-slit experiment; action at a distance – and how the Universe could spring into existence from absolutely nothing, without any cause.

    They both replied and both said that no-one understood these things – that science is doing a good job at discovering how the Universe works, but is making little progress on why – how on earth! – it can work that way. One of them, with regard to the Universe springing into existence for no reason, and in response to my saying that I don´t believe that anything happens without a reason, in a subsequent email asked how you go south once you get to the South Pole.
    I´m still puzzled as to what he meant.

  81. #81 Rudi
    South Africa
    October 28, 2012

    Once you get to the South Pole, you are as south as you can be on earth, because we define the South Pole on earth as the most southerly point on earth. If you were to camp on the South Pole, and walk 1 km north and then 1km east and one km south, you would end up at the same place you started, on the South Pole. If you think about it, the only place that this can happen on earth is if you were to start at the South or North Pole, if you do this on any random place, like in the dessert, you would end up just more than 1km away from where you started.
    That being said, we people chose the south pole as that specific place on earth, since it was a convenient place to choose it, but the south pole could have been anywhere, at the end of it all, south is actually just a meaningless word that found meaning in its definition.
    So what I think the cosmologist meant, is that science starts at the present, and tries to explain what happened in the past, then gives a set of rules that people follow from there on. Nothing is “definite” and everything is relative to something else. To understand why the universe formed is way above what any human being can even begin to understand, so you get to a point where you just say – ok! So we think we know about 10% of what happened, we can speculate on the other 90% – so let us just assume that the 10% we think we know is correct, give the people a set of rules and move on.
    So basically in order to keep moving once you are as south as can be defined, you need to accept that this is south, I can’t go any further than this, and then go north instead, on a journey that will reveal lots of other stuff that we can’t understand, temporarily accept that until we are better equipped to understand it and move on again.

  82. #82 Bobby Harkess
    UK
    September 14, 2013

    Personally I think the big bang was created by a being that has managed to achieve light speed.

    This would explain where all the energy and mass of our universe comes from. As we know if someone were to reach light speed, they would have infinite mass and energy and at the point of light speed, the singularity would not be able to hold infinite mass and energy so it would escape in all directions at light speed.

    The Big Bang.

  83. #83 Wow
    September 15, 2013

    Personally, I think that idea is a load of crap and it explains nothing.

  84. #84 Me
    Philippines
    December 8, 2013

    Wow:

    Well, reading won’t hurt.
    If you would say crap then I presume that you haven’t read the article at all….