The Big Bang never happened?

RJM Corbet

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The accepted explanation for the preponderance of matter over antimatter in the universe has always worried me: that because we live in a matter universe therefore the BB must have produced more matter than antimatter.

Inflation too, of course.
 
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Ori Vandewalle

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(Wow this ended up much longer than I expected.)

Never heard of this guy and only skimmed the first video, but I see he's a plasma universe guy. In general, proponents of the plasma universe hypothesis are not held in high regard in the cosmology community. They tend to see everything through that one lens (plasma physics) to the exclusion of all else.

But regarding his claim that the Big Bang model has made incorrect predictions, I want to push back against this conception of the scientific method. Thanks in large part to the work of Karl Popper, the popular idea of science is as something that proceeds by falsification. Make a hypothesis, test it against the real world, throw out the hypothesis if the data refute it, come up with another one. But this really isn't the way that science has progressed historically speaking, and most philosophers of science today take a broader view than just simple Popperian falsificationism alone.

Important here, I think, is the idea that science is a powerful tool for providing explanations of natural phenomena. Now, any hypothesis that is flatly and completely contradicted by the data makes for a bad explanation of what's going on. But when you look at scientific theories held up as being good, you won't see any that are completely consistent with the data as we know it. The problem is that (1) most scientific theories are only valid under certain parameters, and (2) we cannot interrogate the natural world directly but must interpret results through experiment.

Winding back to the point... in 1915 Einstein replaced Newtonian gravity with general relativity. Newton's theory was "falsified" (it couldn't explain the anomalous perihelion precession of Mercury) and consequently discarded by physicists! Except not really. When engineers and scientists today send probes to the outer solar system with pinpoint accuracy, they don't do so by solving Einstein's field equations. They use good old fashioned F=GMm/r^2 and it works just fine, despite it being empirically incorrect. They can do so because Newton's gravity provides a good, useful explanation of what's happening in the weak-field limit, and this is more important than whether or not it is, in some sense, physically true.

GR is the theory upon which the Big Bang model is based. So far, when tested against reality, it has provided very powerful and useful explanations for a wide variety of phenomena, including time dilation of GPS satellites, gravitational redshift, gravitational waves, etc. One of the consequences of GR is that, if applied to the universe as a whole, it looks like universes can be either expanding or contracting, with stable being, well, unstable. And the observational evidence we have points overwhelmingly toward expansion over contraction, with the key part being the "recession" of distant galaxies. From that recession rate, you can predict the universe must have been smaller, denser, and hotter in the past, and if you throw in some thermo, out pops a cosmic microwave background of a specific temperature. It's there, of course.

Those results alone are enough to trust (not believe 100% or accept no matter what, but trust) the idea that GR and the Big Bang model are a good explanation of what we see. But what I mean by the "Big Bang model" is simply that the universe was smaller, denser, and hotter in the past and has since cooled and expanded. From there, you can dig into the physics and construct a more detailed model that looks at the consequences of this hypothesis, including Big Bang nucleosynthesis, matter content, density, etc. But as you incorporate more elements, all of this starts to get more complicated, such that you may run into areas where the basic model loses some validity or you have to scrutinize the data you collect extremely carefully to make sure you're really seeing what's out there. And yeah, that means sometimes the data and the theory will not be completely consistent. But you shouldn't take this as a kind of "gotcha haha you're falsified!" moment, but as evidence that our explanation, useful though it may be, is incomplete.

I realize that as a specific critique of this guy's video and ideas, this might not be a wholly satisfying answer. If you have questions about particular pieces of evidence for or against the big bang, I can probably give an explanation of the standard answers given by cosmologists today.
 

Brian G Turner

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A quick search on Wikipedia suggests that his ideas are not mainstream. :)

However, my own reading suggests that while the broad framework of the Big Bang model is broadly accepted in the mainstream, there are a ton of variations in the details and a lot of arguments about the differences.
 

RJM Corbet

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(Wow this ended up much longer than I expected.)

Never heard of this guy and only skimmed the first video, but I see he's a plasma universe guy. In general, proponents of the plasma universe hypothesis are not held in high regard in the cosmology community. They tend to see everything through that one lens (plasma physics) to the exclusion of all else.

But regarding his claim that the Big Bang model has made incorrect predictions, I want to push back against this conception of the scientific method. Thanks in large part to the work of Karl Popper, the popular idea of science is as something that proceeds by falsification. Make a hypothesis, test it against the real world, throw out the hypothesis if the data refute it, come up with another one. But this really isn't the way that science has progressed historically speaking, and most philosophers of science today take a broader view than just simple Popperian falsificationism alone.

Important here, I think, is the idea that science is a powerful tool for providing explanations of natural phenomena. Now, any hypothesis that is flatly and completely contradicted by the data makes for a bad explanation of what's going on. But when you look at scientific theories held up as being good, you won't see any that are completely consistent with the data as we know it. The problem is that (1) most scientific theories are only valid under certain parameters, and (2) we cannot interrogate the natural world directly but must interpret results through experiment.

Winding back to the point... in 1915 Einstein replaced Newtonian gravity with general relativity. Newton's theory was "falsified" (it couldn't explain the anomalous perihelion precession of Mercury) and consequently discarded by physicists! Except not really. When engineers and scientists today send probes to the outer solar system with pinpoint accuracy, they don't do so by solving Einstein's field equations. They use good old fashioned F=GMm/r^2 and it works just fine, despite it being empirically incorrect. They can do so because Newton's gravity provides a good, useful explanation of what's happening in the weak-field limit, and this is more important than whether or not it is, in some sense, physically true.

GR is the theory upon which the Big Bang model is based. So far, when tested against reality, it has provided very powerful and useful explanations for a wide variety of phenomena, including time dilation of GPS satellites, gravitational redshift, gravitational waves, etc. One of the consequences of GR is that, if applied to the universe as a whole, it looks like universes can be either expanding or contracting, with stable being, well, unstable. And the observational evidence we have points overwhelmingly toward expansion over contraction, with the key part being the "recession" of distant galaxies. From that recession rate, you can predict the universe must have been smaller, denser, and hotter in the past, and if you throw in some thermo, out pops a cosmic microwave background of a specific temperature. It's there, of course.

Those results alone are enough to trust (not believe 100% or accept no matter what, but trust) the idea that GR and the Big Bang model are a good explanation of what we see. But what I mean by the "Big Bang model" is simply that the universe was smaller, denser, and hotter in the past and has since cooled and expanded. From there, you can dig into the physics and construct a more detailed model that looks at the consequences of this hypothesis, including Big Bang nucleosynthesis, matter content, density, etc. But as you incorporate more elements, all of this starts to get more complicated, such that you may run into areas where the basic model loses some validity or you have to scrutinize the data you collect extremely carefully to make sure you're really seeing what's out there. And yeah, that means sometimes the data and the theory will not be completely consistent. But you shouldn't take this as a kind of "gotcha haha you're falsified!" moment, but as evidence that our explanation, useful though it may be, is incomplete.

I realize that as a specific critique of this guy's video and ideas, this might not be a wholly satisfying answer. If you have questions about particular pieces of evidence for or against the big bang, I can probably give an explanation of the standard answers given by cosmologists today.
Ok. Thank you for the response. In effect this is 'plasma universe' theory, then? Thank you. I just needed some educated input.

Welcome to Chrons, by the way :)
 
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RJM Corbet

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A quick search on Wikipedia suggests that his ideas are not mainstream. :)

However, my own reading suggests that while the broad framework of the Big Bang model is broadly accepted in the mainstream, there are a ton of variations in the details and a lot of arguments about the differences.
Thanks Brian
 

mosaix

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Interesting article in this week’s New Scientist by the Nobel Prize winning Jim Peebles.

It’s clear, concise and supports the Big Bang theory.


You have to be a subscriber to read the full article but it’s pretty convincing.
 

RJM Corbet

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sometimes I can't stop myself from over-explaining things...
Oh no, I did not pick that up at all

Interesting article in this week’s New Scientist by the Nobel Prize winning Jim Peebles.

It’s clear, concise and supports the Big Bang theory.


You have to be a subscriber to read the full article but it’s pretty convincing.
Ok. Thanks. But I'm not a subscriber..
 

BigBadBob141

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If there was no Big Bang how do you explain cosmic background radiation?
Always liked the steady-state myself, not looking forwards to the Big Crunch or being the last galaxy left in the observable universe!
 

Astro Pen

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I have never been convinced about inflation. They might as well have proposed that 'it was magic' as present that ridiculous FTL 'solution' to paper over the gaps.
As for 'big crunch', will there be an FTL contraction phase then? Or is the supposed process assymetric?

Note for @dannymcg Here, no doubt, comes the "The question has no meaning" thing :)
 

Ori Vandewalle

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I don't think people should be convinced by inflation because at present it's a very loosely defined idea and (depending on who you talk to) it's not clear what problems it's actually solving. But I don't think it's magic, and it's not really FTL in a way that causes issues in relativity.
 

Mark Turnbull

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I think that there are so many scientific facts through history that have been disproved, that it's hard to accept anything as an absolute truth, especially something like the big bang that happened so long ago. And our understanding of science is only based on our understanding of reality which isn't complete.
 

Ori Vandewalle

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Inflation is the event horizon of the BB singularity?
I think there's currently not great evidence that the universe was ever in a state that could be described as a singularity. If you trace the evolution of the universe back far enough, you get to high enough temperatures and densities and small enough regions of space that our current physical models break down and you need a theory of quantum gravity to explain what's going on, which we don't have.

This is also true of the singularities in black holes. A singularity is a mathematical error that represents where a theory stops working. With quantum gravity, it's likely we'll see some other physical explanation for what's in the middle of a black hole but no singularity.

Event horizons are described perfectly well by general relativity, however. Thing is, an event horizon implies the existence of something outside the horizon, and if the universe is all of spacetime, there's no outside for which any part of the universe could serve as an event horizon.

On top of that, if something like inflation occurred, it's possible the universe never got so small and hot as to require radically new physics like quantum gravity (instead you need new physics to explain inflation). Best evidence from the CMB seems to line up with the universe never having been in that way too small state, which supports the idea of inflation, but I'd say we still don't really have a good handle on that period. I wouldn't be surprised if we see major revisions to that aspect of the theory eventually.
 

RJM Corbet

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A singularity is a mathematical error that represents where a theory stops working
Well, not an error but a limit, as far as I understand?

There was a recent discussion in this thread:

Does 'Stuff' Ever Disappear? From The Universe?

Check out the enlightening post by @Venusian Broon:

Just because our calculations from an incomplete theory that we know is not a full description of the universe, goes to infinity at a point, doesn't mean that real stuff does the same. But I'd rather interpret the singularity as a breakdown of our understanding - it's as far as these mathematics can take us. Divide by zero is not calculable. It has no meaning.

I'd be willing to be bet that a real 'singularity' is in a new phase of matter or more probably a new phase of space-time, or whatever fundamental 'thing' that makes up the building blocks of the universe, that allows the black hole object to exist in some stasis that is not infinite. Until Hawking radiation, as @Laughingbuddha mentioned, evaporates it.

However I can't see a good way of actually experimentally figuring out what lies past the event horizon, as I can't see a way of getting results back 'out' back past that screen. So how could I ever know?

Perhaps if we came up with a better theory of everything we might have a different idea.

There are, of course, other ideas floating about, about black holes and what they contain. I recently read up a bit on Gravastars - essentially black holes - a few days back, where matter is compressed so much that it gets to the scale of 'superfluid space-time'. At that point the mass at a deep level is instantaneously converted to energy and space-time there goes to a different phase of being because of the influx of energy (a bit like the phase change when ice turns into water.) This new space-time exerts a negative pressure, counteracting the postive pressure of the gravitational mass. Further infalling matter from the shell of matter, after the initial set up, is converted to energy in the new space-time...which when expressed will, through the equivalence of mass and energy, produce some matter in the new space-time. Furthermore at the boundry of the superfluid vortices form, vortices that can guide and 'trap' the masses being produced into random densities.

So you have an expansionary space-time (a.k.a there is your 'dark energy') with mass and energy set in a random density distribution....sounds a lot like a new universe!

Anyway, pinch of salt time - this theory is really only being pushed by a couple of people, so it's not 'mainstream'. Is space-time a superfluid? Could it exhibit phase-changes? Is dark energy actually real anyway, as a number of results have shed some doubt on it? If the universe inside a gravastar is a superfluid it should be rotating - as it has to conserve the angular momentum of the initial star, so is our universe rotating? Are we inside a Gravastar?

Loads of questions, I'm afraid, not so many answers!
 
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