It all started with a Big Bang. Or maybe it didnt. In the mid-20th century, most physicists were split on how the universe began or if it even had a beginning at all. Today, scientists agree that the Big Bang theory best describes the birth of our universe nearly 14 billion years ago. The idea now has a lot of observational evidence, but in the 1940s and 50s it was still widely debated. The Big Bang theory roused the public and religious realms perhaps even more than the scientific community, which had previously accepted an idea called the steady state model. It was not only a scientific controversy, it also included some broader aspects, ideological and religious aspects. And that was one reason why it was so publicly controversial, says Helge Kragh, a science historian and professor emeritus at the Niels Bohr Institute. The steady state theory was, especially in England, often associated with atheism, and the Big Bang theory with Christian theism.If the universe had a creation point, then it probably had a creator, the thinking went.
Read More: What Came Before the Big Bang?
Humans have always held ideas about how the universe originated. But it wasnt until advances in the 20th century, including Albert Einsteins theories of relativity, that astronomers could really form educated ideas about how the universe formed.
Alexander Friedmann, a Russian physicist, was the first to realize that applying the rules of relativity across large scales described a universe that changed over time. With a mathematical approach, he showed the universe could have started small before expanding over enormous distances and, in some cases, eventually collapsing back in on itself.
Observations carried out by Lowell Observatorys V.M. Slipher and, later, Edwin Hubble, showed that the universe was in fact expanding. And this helped confirm these initial ideas of the Big Bang. Two years later, the Belgian physicist Georges Lematre published a paper describing how the expanding universe had started as a tiny, hot, dense speck, which he called the primeval atom. Ordained as a Catholic priest, Lematre reported the finding as a happy coincidence of cosmology and theology in an early draft of the paper, though the comment was removed for the final publication of the paper.
Two decades later, George Gamow would develop theories on the fallout of a hot-birthed universe namely, how it would create neutrons and protons and published a popular book on the subject. It even caught the eye of Pope Pius XII, who was taken by the parallels between the scripture of Genesis and the scientific theory.
Unlike the church, Einstein wasnt initially happy with the idea of a changing universe, preferring one invariable on large scales. British astronomer Fred Hoyle wasnt happy, either. Along with two other scientists, he developed a counter-theory the steady state model. The steady state model suggested that the universe had no beginning and had always been expanding. To explain why the universe looks identical in all directions, it proposed tiny traces of matter, too small to be experimentally measured, were continually being created.
This model initially garnered support of around half of the scientific community albeit one that was very small at the time and became the Big Bang theorys biggest rival.
This [debate between theories] was not in the mainstream of physics research, says David Kaiser, science historian and physics professor at MIT. Basically no one paid attention or very little attention, even among professional physicists and astronomers.
But as evidence started gathering, that would change.
Observations of distant ultra-bright galaxies in the 1950s suggested the universe was changing, and measurements of the helium content in the universe didnt match the steady state models predictions. In 1964, the monumental discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation direct evidence of a young, hot universe would deal the final deathblow to the steady state model.
It really seems to suggest the universe had very different conditions in early times than today, Kaiser says. And that was just not what the steady state model suggests.
In an ironic twist, Hoyle used the term Big Bang in an attempt to dismiss the theory in a BBC interview. Though his own theory would be largely lost to history, the irreverent name would stick.
To his death, Hoyle would never submit to the Big Bang theory. A small subset of cosmologists still work on resurrecting a steady state model; but, on the whole, the community overwhelmingly supports the Big Bang theory.
There are a couple of other puzzles, so cosmologists don't think we're done, but theyre now kind of patching or filling in some holes to the original Big Bang models certainly not replacing it, Kaiser says.
Read the original:
- The Sky This Week from February 21 to March 1 - Astronomy Magazine - February 24th, 2020
- Astronomers Have Detected Molecular Oxygen in Another Galaxy For The First Time - ScienceAlert - February 24th, 2020
- Could alien life hitchhike to Earth on space rocks from other stars? - Astronomy Magazine - February 24th, 2020
- Controversial simulation creates galaxies without using dark matter - Astronomy Magazine - February 24th, 2020
- How Interferometry Works, and Why it's so Powerful for Astronomy - Universe Today - February 24th, 2020
- Heather Couper, 19492020 - Astronomy Now Online - February 24th, 2020
- Star Betelgeuse's mysterious dimming has the attention of UA astronomer - Arizona Public Media - February 24th, 2020
- Molecular oxygen has been spotted beyond the Milky Way for the first time - Science News - February 24th, 2020
- Heather Couper: Astronomer who brought the stars to a wide audience - The Independent - February 24th, 2020
- These 60 Hyderabad kids are falling in love with astronomy at BMBSC. Do you know how? - EdexLive - February 24th, 2020
- How a Single Image Taken in 1995 Revolutionized Astronomy - Fstoppers - February 24th, 2020
- Look up: Astronomical event on the way - WOODTV.com - February 24th, 2020
- Astronomers look to preserve the night sky as thousands of satellites set to launch - CBC.ca - February 24th, 2020
- SETI and other alien-hunting strategies are dealing with new tools and new troubles - GeekWire - February 24th, 2020
- Watch out, Avengers: This asteroid has a more violent track record than Thanos - SYFY WIRE - February 24th, 2020
- On Student Success, This Astronomer Walks the Walk - UANews - February 17th, 2020
- Astronomers Have Aired Concerns About Musk's Starlink in a Paper, And It's Intense - ScienceAlert - February 17th, 2020
- Orion and its dimming star Betelgeuse shine over a stargazer in this sentimental night-sky photo - Space.com - February 17th, 2020
- When Betelgeuse goes supernova, what will it look like from Earth? - Astronomy Magazine - February 17th, 2020
- The Sky This Week from February 14 to 23 - Astronomy Magazine - February 17th, 2020
- Planetesimal Arrokoth is helping astronomers understand the formation of the planets - Firstpost - February 17th, 2020
- How many planets are there in the universe? - Astronomy Magazine - February 17th, 2020
- What is a neutron star? | Astronomy Essentials - EarthSky - February 17th, 2020
- Astronomers Simulated How the Universe Would Look Without Dark Matter - Universe Today - February 17th, 2020
- What is a fast radio burst? What causes the signal from space? - Vox.com - February 17th, 2020
- SpaceX's next Starlink volley remains stuck on Earth to glee of astronomers everywhere - The Register - February 17th, 2020
- Weekly Round-Up Of Space And Astronomy Opportunities For Africans - Space in Africa - February 17th, 2020
- Astronomers Discover Eleven Dangerous Asteroids That Could Impact the Earth - SciTechDaily - February 17th, 2020
- Astronomers want you to help them count the stars this Valentine's Day - CBC.ca - February 17th, 2020
- Scientists theorize that space aliens may already be here, but we dont recognize them - San Francisco Chronicle - February 17th, 2020
- Indian Astronomy And Mathematics: When Kerala Became The Locus Of Genius - Swarajya - February 17th, 2020
- Cosmic Rays from beyond Solar System Affect Atmosphere of Titan | Astronomy - Sci-News.com - February 17th, 2020
- astronomy | Definition & Facts | Britannica - February 12th, 2020
- Astronomy | Definition of Astronomy by Merriam-Webster - February 12th, 2020
- What is Astronomy? Definition & History | Space - February 12th, 2020
- Benefits Of Astronomy As A Subject In Primary And Secondary Schools Curricula - Space in Africa - February 12th, 2020
- The Sky This Week from February 7 to 16 - Astronomy Magazine - February 12th, 2020
- Solar Orbiter is on its way to study the Sun - Astronomy Magazine - February 12th, 2020
- Astronomers Find Three Massive Exoplanets Orbiting Evolved Star | Astronomy - Sci-News.com - February 12th, 2020
- The Night Sky Will Never Be the Same - The Atlantic - February 12th, 2020
- Astronomers Find Ultramassive Galaxy From The Early Universe That Suddenly Died - ScienceAlert - February 12th, 2020
- Astronomers have found a deep space radio burst that pulses every 16 days - MIT Technology Review - February 12th, 2020
- Scientists detect an unexplainable radio signal from outer space that repeats every 16 days - USA TODAY - February 12th, 2020
- Here are some astronomical LEGO facts in honor of LEGO Masters upcoming space-themed episode - FOX 10 News Phoenix - February 12th, 2020
- Ask An Astronomer: Here's All You Need to Know About Decade's First Supermoon on February 9 - The Weather Channel - February 12th, 2020
- The economic cost of destroying nature is astronomical - Fast Company - February 12th, 2020
- Darkest county in Georgia has its own astronomy village - 13WMAZ.com - February 12th, 2020
- The 2020 'Super Bowl of Astronomy' Kicks Off in Hawaii - Space.com - January 5th, 2020
- Crater found from asteroid that covered 10% of Earth's surface in deb - Astronomy Magazine - January 5th, 2020
- East Haven Coffee Shop To Host Astronomy Night on January 24th - East Haven, CT Patch - January 5th, 2020
- Astronomy 2020: Every major meteor shower, supermoon and more - The Know - January 5th, 2020
- Rocket Launches, Trips to Mars and More 2020 Space and Astronomy Events - The New York Times - January 5th, 2020
- The Sky This Week from January 3 to 12 - Astronomy Magazine - January 5th, 2020
- Hubble Team Produces 30th Anniversary Calendar for 2020 | Astronomy - Sci-News.com - January 5th, 2020
- Thousands of astronomers are gathering in Honolulu as TMT discord looms - Honolulu Star-Advertiser - January 5th, 2020
- Astronomy Before the Telescope set - The Greater New Milford Spectrum - January 5th, 2020
- Astronomy VLOG: What the 2020s Mean for Space Travel - WAVY.com - January 5th, 2020
- We Have Absolutely No Idea Whats Out There Astronomers 2019 Views on Extraterrestrial Life (Weekend Featu - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries... - January 5th, 2020
- What is the asteroid belt? | Space - EarthSky - January 5th, 2020
- Wanda Diaz Merced is a blind astronomer who hears the science of the stars - Boing Boing - January 5th, 2020
- What the interstellar medium tells us about the early universe - Astronomy Magazine - December 13th, 2019
- Astronomers find 19 more galaxies missing their dark matter - Astronomy Magazine - December 13th, 2019
- Europe's XMM-Newton Telescope Celebrates 20 Years of X-Ray Astronomy - Space.com - December 13th, 2019
- See interstellar comet Borisov on its way toward the Sun - Astronomy Magazine - December 13th, 2019
- The Sky This Week from December 6 to 15 - Astronomy Magazine - December 13th, 2019
- Mars 2020's landing site could be a good place to hunt for fossils - Astronomy Magazine - December 13th, 2019
- 'Monster Black Hole' Discovery Found to be Incorrect But That's How Science Progresses - Space.com - December 13th, 2019
- Can Astronomy Explain the Biblical Star of Bethlehem? - Snopes.com - December 13th, 2019
- This Is How Astronomers Know The Age Of The Universe (And You Can, Too) - Forbes - December 13th, 2019
- Milky Way's Thick Disk is 10 Billion Years Old, Astronomers Say | Astronomy - Sci-News.com - December 13th, 2019
- Science needs true diversity to succeed -- and Australian astronomy shows how we can get it - The Conversation AU - December 13th, 2019
- Astronomers Discover MAMBO-9, Most Distant Dusty Star-Forming Galaxy We Were in Doubt if It Was Real - SciTechDaily - December 13th, 2019
- Merging Pair of Dusty Star-Forming Galaxies Spotted 13 Billion Light-Years Away | Astronomy - Sci-News.com - December 13th, 2019
- Astronomers look inside meteorites and find the sugars needed for life - Astronomy Magazine - November 24th, 2019
- That Starlink Problem Astronomers Were Worried About Is Totally Happening - ScienceAlert - November 24th, 2019
- Will SpaceXs Starlink Mega-Constellation Ruin Astronomys Biggest Ever Eye On The Sky? - Forbes - November 24th, 2019
- A weird, orbital dance keeps these moons of Neptune safely on track - Astronomy Magazine - November 24th, 2019
- Astronomers Finally Find the Neutron Star Leftover from Supernova 1987A - Universe Today - November 24th, 2019
- Astronomers Observe Host Galaxy of Extremely Bright and Long Gamma-Ray Burst | Astronomy - Sci-News.com - November 24th, 2019
- Meet the NASA Engineer Who Secretly Practices Astrology - Free - November 24th, 2019