Friday, March 12, 2010

Why the Big Bang Ain't So Crazy of an Idea

The prospect of an explosion happening from out of nowhere while creating all existence sounds hard to believe.

And it should be. That's your skepticism kicking in . . . and that's a good thing.

Yep. I said it. Skepticism of the Big Bang is a good thing.

Don't simply believe in the Big Bang. Understand the premise and then make a judgment for yourself.

So, why do so many scientists buy into such a strange idea?

Well . . .

The light our eyes see is not all there is to light.

When light goes through a prism, it is dispersed into a spectrum. And the spectrum of light can revel the chemical elements found within the source that is emitting the light.

Still with me?

Spectral analysis of stars show that all the elements found on Earth are also found in Sol, our sun.

Nearly all of us have heard about E = mc2, which is Einstein's famous equation. But what about the implications of this deceptively simple, yet powerful equation?

Matter can be turned into energy, and energy back into matter. Stars compress hydrogen gas so much that they smash into each other at nearly the speed of light. This causes the hydrogen to fuse together to form helium. As this happens, immense energy that gives off a bright light is released. And then the helium atoms are further fused into heaver elements, producing even more energy still. The hotness and luminosity of our sun (and any other star for that matter) comes from this constant reaction of nuclear fusion.

Through this process, stars create the elements found all around us.

When a star experiences a supernova, all those elements get scattered throughout the cosmos. The released gases also tend to spark off the formation of a new star.

When one star dies and another is born, the elements of the Universe are formed. When planets, asteroids, and comets formulate out of the gaseous eddies left over from star formation, all the elements of the periodic table will already be in place.

If a star can form the elements from scratch, what could an infinitesimal release of energy produce?

Bell Labs back in the 1960's was working on a project with satellite transmissions. But, they had a nagging problem. They kept getting static interference which they couldn't explain.

And that static was jackin' up their experimentations and stuff.

Simultaneously and serendipitously, a pair of scientists had a conjecture that if a star had the ability to form the raw materials of existence, then perhaps the Universe itself came forth from an immense release of energy. In that release, the building blocks of matter could have formed. The mathematics (which I'm sure I couldn't understand) added up-- with the exception of one major problem. An energy release that big would not have cooled down completely-- not even after billions of years. So, the mathematics predicted that some sort of background radiation should exist.

But, they don't see none.

Oh well, time to move on to another hypothesis.

That is until these scientists happened to hear about out what was going on at Bell labs. That static that was jackin' up the Bell Labs experiments-- that was the cooling radiation from a really big release of energy. Something like a . . . um, how would you say . . . a Big Bang?

Those guys got a Nobel Prize for their discovery.

Hey, it's still okay to be skeptical. It's okay to remain skeptical about the Big Bang.

But at least realize the Big Bang ain't so crazy of an idea-- even if one day physicists realize the idea was completely wrong.

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