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No. 28: Jul-Aug 1983

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The better, bigger big bang

Astronomers are ever more discomfitted by the Big Bang hypothesis for the creation of the universe. The reasons are several:

  1. The observed universe is extremely homogeneous, even though theory says that distant parts of the universe could never have been causally connected;
  2. No satisfactory explanation exists for the density fluctuations that had to occur for galaxies to be formed; and
  3. The universe seems to be flat, not curved, and the Big Bang does not explain why.

Paul Steinhardt and Andreas Al-brecht, at the University of Pennsylvania, have developed a radically different Big Bang -- a two-stage one, with hot and super-cooled states. The three objections listed above are neatly disposed of in the new version, but at the cost of a radically new view of the cosmos. The "new" universe is about 10100 times as big as the 12 billion light years assigned to the cozy universe we used to know -- and it is presumably correspondingly older.

This means that the portion of the cosmos we see is only a negligible fraction of the whole -- a fraction that just happens to be homogeneous. Somewhere, way out beyond the farthest quasar, things could be -- well -- different!

(Anonymous; "A Bigger, Better Big Bang," Astronomy, 11:62, February 1983.)

Reference. Our Catalog volume Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos brims with challenges to the Big Bang. For details on this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #28, JUL-AUG 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss