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No. 34: Jul-Aug 1984

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The Big Bang As An Illusion

That the universe began with the Big Bang is now so ingrained in our thinking that we almost never search for plausible alternatives. Perhaps the Big Bang is just a facade that diverts us from theories that better explain the observed characteristics of the universe.

A trio of American and British astron omers (B.J. Carr, J.R. Bond, W.D. Arnett) are exploring the possibility that the cosmos began with a generation of very massive stars rather than the debris of the Big Bang. These huge stars would have had masses 100 or so times that of the sun. By virtue of the much higher pressures and temperatures at their cores, they would have burnt up their fuel inventories much faster than sun-sized stars. Thus they would have burnt themselves out long ago, probably surviving as black holes. Such an ancient generation of massive stars can explain four puzzling features of the universe:

(1) The amount and character of the background microwave radiation. (2) The identity of the "missing mass" needed to hold the universe together (i.e., the relict black holes). (3) The primordial abundance of helium. (4) The near-absence of heavy elements in the universe.

Although the success of this hypothesis is far from total, it might help wean us away from the Big Bang.

(Maddox, John; "Alternatives to the Big Bang," Nature, 308:491, 1984.)

Comment. Note that, like the Big Bang itself, the generation of massive stars came from nowhere, like something pulled out of a magician's hat.

Reference. Our Catalog Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos contains many observations that challenge the Big Bang. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #34, JUL-AUG 1984. � 1984-2000 William R. Corliss