Between 10 and 20 million years ago there was a speck, tinier than a pinhead where all the matter in the universe was concentrated, commonly called a ‘singularity’. The temperature of this extremely dense particle was so hot that neither atoms, nor even subatomic particle could exisit and the laws of physics would not have applied. Now any description of the universe can only go back to a point one ten millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the big bang. – That is 10 with 43 zero after it. Mmmh!
Now at this point, in the smallest fraction of time that can be conceived, the universe underwent a period of cosmic inflation, propably about a billion billion times the speed of light, and this unbelievably rapid expansion created ripples called ‘Quantum Fluctuations” in the fabric of space, thus miraculously ensuring that matter was not evenly distributed in this newly expanding universe, which prepared the way for the later formation of the galaxies. What’s more it ensured that the resulting universe would be at the right critical density so that it would keep expanding for ever although it would also slow down the rate of expansion endlessly. Wow!
After one ten billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, that is 10 with 34 zeros behind it, the temperature dropped to around 1000 trillion trillion degrees, that is 10 with 27 zeros behind it, goodness that is hot, thus enabling Quarks which are the sub atomic components of protons and neutrons as well as electrons to form. How they knew how to form themselves and why they came about as they did is anyone’s guess, somehow they just did. Now by this time cosmic inflation had already ended. Yes indeed the universe had expanded a million trillion trillion times, that is 10 with 34 zeros behind it in the short space of one billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth which is 10 with 34 zeros after it, a completely miraculous occurrence, and from this time started slowing it expansion due to the pull of gravity which also miraculously came into being, miraculously because there was not yet any matter in existence, just the tenuous bits and pieces called quarks.
Now about one ten thousandth of a second, thank goodness we are getting to reasonable periods of time here, the temperature had cooled to 10 with 15 zeros behind it degrees, not such a reasonable temperature, enabling quarks, those quirky particles which came about completely by themselves back in the last paragraph, to bind together and form protons and neutrons, which along with electrons are the building blocks of the atom.
After some three minutes, the temperature dropped to around a billion degrees, which enabled protons and neutrons to bind together and form the nuclei of hydrogen and helium, which are the components of the stars, and were not yet in existence. Apparently at this stage the universe was about the density of water and would continue to expand and cool in this state for around 300,000 years.
Now after this 300,000 year period, how they arrived at this time period is anyone’s guess, the temperature fell to a reasonable level of 3000 degrees. This allowed electrons to combine with the nuclei of hydrogen and helium, thereby forming atoms of hydrogen and helium, that is, all the hydrogen and helium that would ever exist in the universe.
During the next billion years gravity began pulling hydrogen and helium atoms together to form the first quasars and stars. Now this gravity seems to have been the result of the very brief but stupendous cosmic inflation in the life of the early universe, which created ripples in the fabric of space and ensuring that matter was not evenly distributed. The formation of stars led to the formation of galaxies.
Through the billions and billions of years, hydrogen and helium burning in the interior of stars produced heavier elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and iron. Supernova explosions of stars and stellar winds dispersed these elements, producing new stars and condensing into planets around them, thus the earth came into being.
Now despite many apparent confirmations of the current Big Bang model, many significant, fundamental questions remain.
What is a singularity? What was it made of? How did it come into being? Was it the result of a universe that experienced a Big Crunch? Was it just the latest episode of a Big Bang, Big Crunch series of endless universes? What caused to explode? Why did it explode when it did? Why did it explode in the way it did? What Super Law governed the subsequent laws of physics that came about as a result of the big bang? The answers to these are in the realm of pure speculation and fantasy.
More questions abound. What super gravity held this singularity together in the first place? What is the source of the energy that defeated this super gravity and caused it to explode? What is the explanation of cosmic expansion? How did the universe get so big in the smallest fraction of time? When did time come into existence? What are the precursors to quarks? Why did they develop in the way that they did? What law governed their creation? Why did they, when the environment was suitable, form protons and neutrons and not some other particle? Did they spontaneously exist with protons and neutrons in mind? When did the laws of physics come into being and why in the form that they are? When did electrons come into existence, why with the right amount of spin which if varied even in the slightest, matter could not exist?
Well the questions without any real answers could just go on and on and on. Indeed billions of questions about what went on billions of years ago. And do not think that scientists all agree on these theories. There is a wide divergence of views, opinions and speculations about the origins of the universe, just as there are about the origins of life on earth.
Consider the conflict between the General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.
"There is a deep seated fundamental conflict between Quantum theory and Einstein's theory of relativity. Subtle difficulties become insurmountable problems when gravity is added."
Paul Renteln, "Quantum Gravity", American Scientist, 79, 508-527 (1991)
Here’s what Stephen Hawking has to say about this in his 1988 book A Brief History of Time. “Today scientists describe the universe in two partial theories – the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. They are the great intellectual achievements of this century. The general theory of relativity describes the forces of gravity and the large scale structure of the universe. Quantum mechanics on the other hand, deals with phenomena on extremely small scales such as a millionth of a millionth of an inch. Unfortunately, however, these two theories are known to be inconsistent with each other – they cannot both be correct” Page 13
Now I know some will say that this is old science, I mean 1988 was so yesteryear in terms of science. When confronted with the question whether the standard model of the Big Bang was the only model that was consistent with evidence or just the most popular one the Internationally renowned Astrophysicist George F. R. Ellis stated "People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations….For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations….You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that." - W. Wayt Gibbs, "Profile: George F. R. Ellis," Scientific American, October 1995, Vol. 273, No.4, p. 55. Yes I know still old hat, 1995 so last century!
Other high profile dissenters of the standard model of the Big Bang theory (note it is always referred to as a theory) include Nobel laureate Dr. Hannes Alfvén, Professor Geoffrey Burbidge, Dr. Halton Arp, and the renowned British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, who is accredited with first coining the term "the Big Bang" during a BBC radio broadcast in 1950.
In the last 25 years or so many physicists have endeavoured to answer all those questions in this article by formulating and advocating the String Theory a proposed explanation for the existence of the universe. String theory seeks to explain why, at the very minute scale, matter appears to be constructed from vibrating nothing. In String Theories various versions, it seeks to explain how the Big Bang could have been possible by reconciling the conflict between the extremely tiny realm of quantum mechanics with the cosmic kingdom of general relativity, and to answer whether the expansion of our universe will stop at some stage and lead to a Big Crunch or continue forever.
This elaborate answer to the quandary of the scientific explanation of the universe is by no means unified in its conclusions. Yet it is the latest craze in Physics. But string theory works only if you assume the existence of other dimensions hidden in folds with sub atomic particles—nine, 11, or 25 of them, depending on which flavour of string thinking takes your fancy—and there's not one shred of evidence that other dimensions exist.
In the book The Trouble With Physics, theoretical physicist Lee Smolin strongly criticizes and highlights problems with the string theory. His book, subtitled – The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of Science - has created huge controversy, and has been himself severely criticised by other physicists for his criticisms of the String Theory
Here are some short reviews of his book
"Lee Smolin provides a much needed, enlightening and engagingly written antidote to string-theory hype. He combines a loving account of the theory itself with a careful critique of how and why the theoretical physics community came to give disproportionate weight to what should have been only one among many worthwhile avenues to explore."
David Deutsch, Oxford University, author of The Fabric of Reality
"Lee Smolin’s understanding of theoretical physics is unusually broad and deep, and his critical judgments are exceptionally penetrating, so his claim that string theory is responsible for the lack of real progress in fundamental physics for the past quarter century carries considerable weight. Read this fascinating book and form your own judgment."
Roger Penrose, author of The Road to Reality and The Emperor’s New Mind
No, scientists are not unified on the origins and development of the universe as is purported by those who advocate that science has proved the Big Bang and related theories. In fact one would say there is as much controversy in the scientific world as there is between the evolutionary model and creationists concerning the origins of the universe. Christians don’t dispute scientific facts; they just believe that God is the Master Scientist, Mathematician and Creator Extraordinaire. Many laugh and mock Christians for believing God created everything, yet they cannot see that the theory of the universe creating itself out of nothing, as many atheists advocate, is just as hard to believe and so far impossible to prove.
Today if some high profile professor claims there are 11 unobservable dimensions about which he can speak with the utmost confidence despite a complete lack of any concrete supporting evidence, that professor is praised for incredible intellect. If another person in the same place, asserted there exists one unobservable dimension, the plane of the spirit, he is be ridiculed as a superstitious crank.
Either way it is Bang and Here We Are or God Said and Here We Are. Take your pick, both are a matter of Faith and Belief, and both are impossible to prove. My choice is God and no amount of ridicule by atheists will change my mind. Especially since so many scientists are being drawn to the conclusion that divine intellegence preceeded and planned the natural universe and the laws by which it is governed.
I end with a quote from one of the most eminent atheistic scientist of modern times.
"It would be very difficult to explain WHY the universe would have begun in just this way, except as an act of God who intended to create beings like us"
Stephen Hawking - A Brief History of Time. Page 140
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