View Full Version : Discussion: New Information on the Early Universe

2003-Aug-21, 05:05 PM
SUMMARY: An international team of astronomers have used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) to look deep into space and see galaxies located 12.6 billion light-years away - these galaxies are being seen when the Universe was only 10% of its current age. Few galaxies this old have been found, and this new collection has helped the astronomers conclude that they are a part of a cosmic Dark Age, when luminous galaxies were rarer - there were many more only 500 million years later.

Comments or questions about this story? Feel free to share your thoughts.

2003-Aug-21, 08:12 PM
Now, you know Fraser, with the risk of indisposing you, Big-Bang is a sacred cow to which I'd gladly whack a good one on the back. Pschologically, we like things that move, evolve, modify rather than static or slow phenomena, and we are iremediabe disaster addicts. Disasters are swell, on the sole condition that you wouldn't be at the receiving end...

Now this idea of a Universe inflating and deflating with an in-between explosion IS rubbing me the wrong way. The Universe is a pretty well balanced place, even the entropy theory was successfully oposed by Ilya Prigogine's negentropy 25 years ago. There's not just dumb destruction, there's a tendency to increasing complexity, to superior organization, for instance. And superiorly organized structures will find a way of preserving themselves, that's axiomatic. To wait and to evolve 20 billion years, just to end up in the melting pot of the Big Crunch and to start all over again, another 20 billion years task, bro, it doesn't make sense.

Besides there are other theories who didn't get any decent answer yet. For instance, the most powerful argument for the Universe's expansion is the Dopler effect, the red shift that prove that effect of decreasing frequency of the electromagnetic emmited radiation proportionally with the distance.

How about the "filter effect" for a change? There IS matter in Space, perfect vacuum is delusional, only that matter is very rarefied, a few atoms or mollecules per cubic meter only, with a sharp increase in density in dust or gas clouds, or, of course in large organized astronomical bodies, like planets, stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets etc. And that matter, those few atoms, accumulated over vast distances could have a very real filter effect, to let pass only radiation of a certain frequency and wavelength. Like presently, red radiation.

Our Solar system travels too, remeber? On orbit around the Galactic center, a galactic year takes something over 200,000 terrestrial years, alledgedly. The whole Solar system could traverse an immense and rarefied gas cloud which could very well be responsible for a false Dopler effect. And that for all I know for the past thousand or million years, with good chances to last another million, or to end this afternoon.

Another "irrefutable proof" would be the other sacred cow, the "background radiation" orriginating from the very beginning...and the fact that it just happens to be also identical with the Hydrogen radiation in free Space doesn't seem to bother anyone.

You have no idea how well I felt when I read that Einstein shook his head in firm disapproval when he first heard of the Big-Bang theory...and kept doing so the rest of his life.

Now I realize that subjectivity has nothing to do with reality,not at this stage at least, and that a theory can very well be valid even if I don't like it. It's just that, as I said, being the theory "a la mode" counter-theories didn't get much chance or audience.

2003-Aug-21, 08:37 PM
It's fine if the theory of the Big Bang doesn't fit well with you. There are many scientific principles out there which run counter to common sense but explain the evidence very very well. Quantum theory is a great example of this. How can two particles disconnected by unlimited distance instantly communicate with each other? Who knows? But they can and do. The cutting edge of electronics is based on scientific principles which go counter to common sense. Common sense can only take you so far.

And the Big Bang is the same way. If you believe there's a better way to explain the shape and nature of the Universe, that's great, but a pile of theories and a quarter will buy you a phone call.

The evidence for the Big Bang comes in many different ways, and each one builds up the case another step. So, if you've got a new theory, it's got to explain
- why the sky is dark everywhere we look
- why the light from distant galaxies is shifted towards the red end of the spectrum
- why the sky looks roughly the same in every direction you look
- why the light from distant supernovae seems to be accelerating away
- the existance of the cosmic microwave background radiation
- the abundence of deuterium, 3He, and 7Li which are materials produced within the first 3 minutes of the Big Bang

Here's a handy FAQ on Cosmology

I think your concern with counter-theories is unfounded. Counter-theories to the Big Bang are being proposed all the time. But each one has to perform the same feat - better explain the evidence. And even better theory would predict a situation that experimenters could then confirm. For example, if you said that your theory predicts some telltale signature element located in some part of the sky, then astronomers could check to see if it's there. If you're right, then the walls of Castle Big Bang will start to crumble.

2003-Aug-21, 10:16 PM
Here is how I see the "instantaneous action at a distance" concept:

There is a box with two black bags in it. One contains a black marble, the other contains a white marble. I remove one bag but do not open it. Now I send the box to a friend in Australia. When he receives it, I get on the telephone and say "I will determine the color of your marble." I open my bag and tell him that his marble is the opposite color. Because of the nature of the experiment he may or may not be very surprised. One way to look at it is that I can change the color of his marble or in the least predetermine its color by determining what color I have. In the other interpetation it is just a child-like game with only one outcome.

Now put in that fashion it does not seem very mysterious at all.

2003-Aug-22, 09:47 PM
Ok Fraser,

I'll give it a shot,

-why the sky is dark everywhere we look?

Our solar system has been here for a very long time, some five billion years. The planets, moons, and even the dust in our solar system must (obviously) be dissipating and transforming the heat from our sun and the little we get from the rest of the cosmos. The universe may be infinite, but the lifetime of stars is not. The typical lifetime of luminous stars is 10 billion years. To fill a static universe with starlight in thermodynamic equilibrium with stars requires that stars shine continuously for 10^23 years—many, many times longer. (See: Edward Harrison, "Another look at the Big Bang," Nature, Vol. 352, 15 August 1991, p. 574). The sky is only dark in the visible spectrum. The universe is illuminated at the wavelengths that we can't see such as the wavelength that corresponds to the microwave temperature of 2.7K. Being that all bodies with temperatures above absolute zero emit electromagnetic radiation, this may simply be the mean temperature of a quasi-static infinite universe, as some scientists have suggested.

- why the light from distant galaxies is shifted towards the red end of the spectrum

Look at the pictures in the link below to see the bridge of material between a low-reshift galaxy and a high-redshift quasar:
this single observation invalidates the redshift equals distance axiom. So the galaxies are not that distant.

-why the sky looks roughly the same in every direction you look?

why shouldn't it?

- why the light from distant supernovae seems to be accelerating away

supernovae distance is a redshift distance which is still an unproven concept and most probably wrong.

- the existence of the cosmic microwave background radiation

The large scale structures need irregularituies in the CMB that haven't shown up, the spectrum is just too "smooth". Also prior to the actual detection of the background radiation it's temperature was theoratically expected to be in the range of 20-30 degrees Kelvin.

- the abundence of deuterium, 3He, and 7Li which are materials produced within the first 3 minutes of the Big Bang.

Data suggests that there is less helium than is predicted--about 23%. Though this doesn't seem like much deviation from prediction, this will ruin the light element abundances according to the theory. One can assign a baryon number (number of photons per total number of protons and neutrons) to produce the correct amount of helium, a second for deuterium, and a third for lithium, but none will come out right for all three. For example, if helium is 23% of the universe, then the density required to create this amount will result in there being about 8 times more deuterium than observed. Many attempts have been made to fix this problem, but none can account for the observed abundances.
The ratios of those three substances has been repeatedly adjusted to fit whatever arbitrary figure is assigned to the density of the universe and the baryon number.

So what big bang?

You're right that other theories exist, they are just not considered, because all the problems with big bang cosmology can be explained away if you accept "counter-intuitive" solutions to the problems.

There are two possible ways for the big bang to disappear: facts contradict the theory whereupon it is abandoned (this is not going to happen, since all these facts are made to fit, or will be ignored) or some new theory will provide better answers. I'm justing hoping it will be soon.