“The Big Bang theory says nothing about what banged, why it banged, or what happened before it banged,” observed MIT theoretical physicist and cosmologist Alan Guth, who pioneered the the theory that the universe dramatically expanded in size in a fleeting fraction of a second after the Big Bang.
Carl Sagan’s Questions
“If the general picture of an expanding universe and a Big Bang is correct,” said Carl Sagan about the most famous scientific theory since Einstein’s relativity, “we must then confront still more difficult questions. What were conditions like at the time of the Big Bang? What happened before that? Was there a tiny universe, devoid of all matter, and then the matter suddenly created from nothing? How does that happen?”
The Big Bang theory says that our universe began with a colossal explosion, about 14 billion years ago, and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Astronomers combine mathematical models with observations to develop workable theories of how the universe came to be, including Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity along with standard theories of fundamental particles. Today, NASA spacecraft such as the Hubble Space Telescope continue measuring the expansion of the universe.
Gravitational Waves –Pure Data from the Big Bang
Still unanswered is the question of what powered inflation. One difficulty in answering this question, observes NASA, is that inflation was over well before recombination, and so the opacity of the universe before recombination is, in effect, a curtain drawn over those interesting very early events. Fortunately, newly detected gravitational waves by the LIGO and VIRGO observatories provide a way to observe the universe that does not involve photons at all. These ripples in spacetime are the only known form of information that can reach us undistorted from the instant of the Big Bang. Several missions are being considered by NASA and ESA that will look for the gravitational waves from the epoch of inflation.
However, several renowned scientists believe the Big Bang never happened; that it is completely wrong and contradicted by evidence leading to what some consider a “crisis of cosmology.”
Enter Fred Hoyle –“The Big Bang Never Happened”
The earliest most famous critic of the Big Bang theory is the iconoclastic British astrophysicist, Fred Hoyle who was the scientist who named the theory of the origin our our universe and our existence as the “Big Bang” which he coined in 1950 while he was doing a series of BBC radio lectures on astronomy when he said: One idea was that the Universe started its life a finite time ago in a single huge explosion, and that the present expansion is a relic of the violence of this explosion. This big bang idea seemed to me to be unsatisfactory even before detailed examination showed that it leads to serious difficulties.”
Hoyle, who studied at the University of Cambridge under physicist and Nobel laureate Paul Dirac, who predicted the existence of antimatter, moved rapidly to the forefront of astronomy, showing how nuclear physics could illuminate such celestial phenomena as white dwarfs, red giants, supernovae and the brilliant radio sources that came to be called quasars. Hoyle founded the prestigious Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge in the early 1960’s and served as its first director, yet his stubborn refusal to accept the big bang theory -made him persona non grata in the field he had helped to create.
Hoyle calculated that inside stars carbon would have to exist in a very special “steady state”: the 7.65 MeV state of carbon-12. Without it, nucleosynthesis could not proceed beyond a very simple stage. However, no one had ever observed carbon in this state. If the 7.65 MeV state did not exist, reports The Guardian, Hoyle reasoned, “the universe would contain no carbon. And if there was no carbon, there would be no human beings. Hoyle was saying that the mere fact he was alive and pondering the question of carbon was proof the 7.65 MeV state existed.”
“I began to get the sense that there was something seriously wrong, not only with these new concepts, but with the big bang itself,”
Hoyle said as he watched cosmologists in the 1980’s struggle to explain the formation of galaxies and other puzzles, “I’m a great believer that if you have a correct theory, you show a lot of positive results. It seems to me that they’d gone on for 20 years, by 1985, and there wasn’t much to show for it. And that couldn’t be the case if it was right.”
“Many Little Bangs in Pre-existing Space and Time”
“Rather than one big bang,” Hoyle said in a 2020 interview with John Horgan author of “The End of Science” for Scientific American, “there were many little bangs occurring in pre-existing space and time. These little bangs are responsible for light elements and the red shifts of galaxies. As for the cosmic microwave background, Hoyle’s best guess was that it is radiation emitted by some sort of metallic interstellar dust. Hoyle acknowledged that his “quasi-steady state theory,” which in effect replaces one big miracle with many little ones, is far from perfect. But he insisted that recent versions of the big bang theory, which posit the existence of inflation, dark matter and other exotica, are much more deeply flawed. ‘It’s like medieval theology,’ he exclaimed in a rare flash of anger.”
Will Cosmology Undergo a Paradigm Shift?
“Will cosmology undergo a paradigm shift that leaves the big bang behind?” asks Horgan. “Probably not. The theory rests on three solid pillars of evidence: the red shift of galaxies, the microwave background and the abundance of light elements, which were supposedly synthesized during our universe’s fiery birth. The big bang also does for cosmology what evolution does for biology: it provides cohesion, meaning, a unifying narrative. That is not to say that the big bang can explain everything, any more than evolutionary theory can. The origin of life remains profoundly mysterious, and so does the origin of the universe. Nor can physics tell us why our universe takes its specific form, which allowed for our existence.”
Enter Dark Energy
In the late 1990’s, writes Horgan, “ astrophysicists discovered that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate being driven by enigmatic dark energy. This is the most significant finding in cosmology—and arguably science as a whole—over the last 25 years. But the big bang theory has absorbed this finding, just as evolutionary theory absorbed the discovery of the double helix.”
“Dark energy is incredibly strange, but actually it makes sense to me that it went unnoticed,” said Noble Prize winning physicist Adam Riess about “dark energy,” a force that is real but eludes detection in an interview. “I have absolutely no clue what dark energy is. Dark energy appears strong enough to push the entire universe – yet its source is unknown, its location is unknown and its physics are highly speculative.”
Hoyle’s brilliant skepticism, has been reaffirmed as Eric Lerner, author of “The Big Bang Never Happened” and colleagues continue to publish articles refuting the Big Bang theory.
Famous Scientists –“Open Letter to the Scientific Community”
The “Open Letter to the Scientific Community” published in the May 2004 issue of New Scientist was signed by 35 astrophysicists and physicists –famous scientists who made major contributions to astrophysics and astronomy, such as Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold and Jayant Narlikar–saying that the Big Bang theory had not been proven and that its predictions were contradicted by astronomical evidence.
“The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities,” observes the Open Letter, “things that we have never observed– inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.”
“But the big bang theory can’t survive without these fudge factors. Without the hypothetical inflation field, the big bang does not predict the smooth, isotropic cosmic background radiation that is observed, because there would be no way for parts of the universe that are now more than a few degrees away in the sky to come to the same temperature and thus emit the same amount of microwave radiation.
“Without some kind of dark matter, unlike any that we have observed on Earth despite 20 years of experiments, big-bang theory makes contradictory predictions for the density of matter in the universe. Inflation requires a density 20 times larger than that implied by big bang nucleosynthesis, the theory’s explanation of the origin of the light elements. And without dark energy, the theory predicts that the universe is only about 8 billion years old, which is billions of years younger than the age of many stars in our galaxy.
“What is more, the big bang theory can boast of no quantitative predictions that have subsequently been validated by observation. The successes claimed by the theory’s supporters consist of its ability to retrospectively fit observations with a steadily increasing array of adjustable parameters, just as the old Earth-centered cosmology of Ptolemy needed layer upon layer of epicycles.
“Yet the big bang is not the only framework available for understanding the history of the universe,” the Open Letter concludes,. “Plasma cosmology and the steady-state model both hypothesize an evolving universe without beginning or end. These and other alternative approaches can also explain the basic phenomena of the cosmos, including the abundances of light elements, the generation of large-scale structure, the cosmic background radiation, and how the redshift of far-away galaxies increases with distance. They have even predicted new phenomena that were subsequently observed, something the big bang has failed to do.”
Thomas Gold, one of the signers, believed with Hoyle that there was reason to think that the creation of matter was “done all the time and then none of the problems about fleeting moments arise. It can be just in a steady state with the expansion taking things apart as fast as new matter comes into being and condenses into new galaxies”.
Two papers were published in 1948 discussing the “steady-state theory” as an alternative to the Big Bang: one by Gold and Bondi, the other by Hoyle. In their seminal paper, Gold and Bondi asserted that although the universe is expanding, it nevertheless does not change its look over time; it has no beginning and no end. Since then, over 200 additional astronomers and physicists have added their signatures to the Open Letter.
In an Nov 12, 2020 interview with Jonathan Tennenbaum for Asia Times, Eric Lerner says “I’ve just submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, we look at 18 large, independent data sets of observations, and in 17 of these, the predictions of the Big Bang theory are clearly contradicted by the data.
Lerner starts his book “The Big Bang Never Happened” with the “errors” that he thinks invalidate the Big Bang. These are:
“The existence of superclusters of galaxies and structures like the “Great Wall” which would take too long to form from the “perfectly homogeneous” Big Bang; The need for dark matter and observations showing no dark matter; the FIRAS CMB spectrum is a “too perfect” blackbody –a physical body that absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation, regardless of frequency or angle of incidence.
“For example, the universe contains objects that are 10 times older than when the Big Bang was supposed to have happened. The Big Bang’s predictions of the distribution of the light elements in the Universe are completely wrong – orders of magnitude wrong.
No Bang at All?
The Big Bang’s predictions of the distribution of the light elements in the Universe are completely wrong – orders of magnitude wrong. The Big Bang theory’s predictions concerning the cosmic microwave background have multiple contradictions, as do the theory’s predictions concerning so-called inflation and dark energy.
“You need – with one exception – gravitation, electromagnetism, nuclear forces and nuclear reactions: things that we have studied here on Earth,” says Tennenbaum . “You can get rid of so-called cosmic inflation, you can get rid of dark energy, you can get rid of the expanding universe. You can get rid of dark matter and just throw them into the dustbin of history. The only exception is the one that Edwin Hubble pointed out one hundred years ago, namely the red shift — the shift of the observed spectrum of light from astronomical objects toward longer wavelengths – that is, lower photon energies – which is conventionally explained in terms of the so-called Doppler effect, by assuming that those objects are moving away from us. The red shift appears to be larger, the more distant the object.
“In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding, with most other galaxies moving away from us. Light from these galaxies is shifted to longer (further away and redder) wavelengths – in other words, it is red-shifted, a result of the expansion of the universe. The Big Bang theorists take the red shift measurements as decisive evidence that distant galaxies are moving away from us, and that the Universe itself is expanding.
“Expansion is only one specific explanation of the red shift relationship. But in science, just to give an explanation for something is not enough. The validity of an explanation of a theory needs to be tested by its predictions – by comparing its predictions with subsequent observations.
“The point is, apart from the red shift, says Lerner, the expansion theory makes many other predictions. The key observational data set that I and my colleagues concentrated on over the course of a long period from 2005 to 2018 – and the results were published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2018 – deals with surface brightness. And, as I mentioned, for these and 16 other data sets, the predictions of the Big Bang theory turn out to be all wrong.
“So what I’m saying,” concludes Lerner,” is that the crisis in cosmology has reached a point where the alternative to the Big Bang is, quite simply, no Big Bang – no Bang at all.”
Image credit: Shutterstock License