The Big Bang Theory – Sorry, not the TV Show

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Interest:
Meshach M.

There are many theories that explain the origin of the universe, from the religious to the scientific, but the one that is most accepted today is the Big Bang theory. The theory states that the universe started from a single point and then expanded into a collection of the basic building blocks that our universe is made of: such as protons, neutrons, positrons, photons, neutrinos and electrons. These particles all together were about ten billion degrees Fahrenheit.[1] Eventually the particles combined into nuclei and then atoms. As the electrons joined the atoms they let through the first visible light known today as the cosmic background.[2] This light can still be found today, although there is controversy if all the observations of it are actually sightings.

Directly after the big bang there was a burst of expansion that today scientists call “inflation.”  Inflation must have been caused by a powerful source of energy, the nature of which is still not known. It is believed that inflation occurred exponentially and possibly different pieces of space were affected differently creating multiple universes side by side. There is evidence of this in gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of time space.[3] The information from gravitational waves is very subtle, but it is information that can sometimes be gleaned no other way.

For a long time scientists assumed that as the atoms from the big bang collected into mass, the speed of the mass slowed down. In the 1920’s Edwin Hubble discovered that the mass is actually accelerating away from the point of the big bang.[4] When our galaxy reaches a point where it is traveling at the speed of light we will no longer be able to see other galaxies.[5]

The Big Bang Theory is very complicated and has many pieces that are difficult to understand. It is interesting to contemplate how the universe got to where we are now and what we can discover about our past.   Science is not a series of beliefs, it is an ever-changing resource as new information is discovered, but hopefully it gives insight into the world around us.

[1] “The Big Bang,” NASA, accessed November 30, 2016, http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-powered-the-big-bang.

[2] Howell, Elizabeth, “What is the Big Bang Theory?” Space.com, Purch, 2016, accessed November 30, 2016, http://www.space.com/25126-big-bang-theory.html.

[3] Crockett, Christopher, “Gravitational Waves Explained,” ScienceNews, Disqus, 2016, accessed December 6, 2016, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/gravitational-waves-explained.

[4] Moskowitz, Clara, “Speed of the Universe’s Expansion Measured Better than Ever,” Space.com, Purch, 2016, accessed December 6, 2016, http://www.space.com/17884-universe-expansion-speed-hubble-constant.html.

[5] Howell, Elizabeth, “What is the Big Bang Theory?” Space.com.

Other reference: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130502-what-came-before-the-big-bang

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