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No. 82: Jul-Aug 1992

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Big-bang brouhaha

Unless you have been in a coma the past couple months, you have heard that the Big Bang has now been elevated from a theory to a fact. The reason for the media hullabaloo was the announcement that minute fluctuations had been detected in the cosmic microwave background. The media hype was notably chauvinistic. Some Big-Bang proponents declared that discovery was the greatest scientific advance of the century, completely ignoring the genetic code, continental drift, nuclear fission, and so on and so on.

More sober scientists rejected such extravagant claims. They pointed out that independent confirmation of the fluctuations was yet to come and that, after all, the fluctuations were very small (only some 30 millionths of a K). And which of the many variations of Big Bang was going to be enthroned? Even Nature advised extreme caution, quoting H. Bondi in this regard:

"...the data in cosmology are so likely to be wrong that I propose to ignore them."

(Anonymous; "Big Bang Brouhaha," Nature, 356:731, 1992.)

Comment. It is ironical that before astronomers found large-scale inhomogeneities in the cosmos (galactic clusters and superclusters, the Great Wall, etc.), the Big Bangers claimed that the very smoothness of the microwave background proved the reality of the Big Bang. The Big Bang, it seems, is one of those "politically correct" paradigms, which one criticizes at his peril.

(Beichman, Arnold; "The Big Bang Censorship," Insight, p. 22, April 13, 1992. Cr. B. Horstmann.)

Reference. To read more about the trials of the Big Bang hypothesis, see our catalog: Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #82, JUL-AUG 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss