Wednesday, March 4, 2015

No Big Bang?

This has not been a good year for the "Big Bang Theory." First an American team at BICEP thought they found B-modes consistent with the idea of Cosmic Inflation; however, its European counterpart voiced their opposition citing that what the Americans detected as "twists" or "ripples" was actually galactic dust.


Well, now there is a new theory claiming that there was no "Big Bang" and that the universe is, in fact, infinite, with no beginning or end. Theoretical physicist Saurya Das of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada posits that by using Bohmian mechanics; or an older form of working with quantum mechanics, both the theory of relativity and the aforementioned can be reconciled.  The result would show a universe that is eternal and never began as a dense singularity over 13 billion years ago.  The study, "Cosmology from quantum potential" was published last month.

As you may know, most physicists, astrophysicists and cosmologists believe the universe began in a dense hot state which expanded, cooled off and began to form galaxies, stars, planets etc.  This is called "Cosmic Inflation" or colloquially, "The Big Bang."  The theory came from a Catholic priest named George Lemaitre who used mathematics, including Einstein's theory of general relativity and the Raychaudhuri's equation to demonstrate that this was, in fact, how the universe began.  However, a problem arises when physicists try to go back towards the singularity.  Since the laws of physics began at the "big bang," then going back through time to that point means that the laws of physics begin to break down.  Moreover, to date, there is no way to unite quantum mechanics with general relativity.  This is because the latter deals with a more deterministic nature in regards to particles while quantum mechanics seems to show a randomness in the universe.  How can things be determined yet be random?

Das believes that by using his team's equation to calculate the density of what is called dark matter, then this would show that our universe contains particles believe to exist called gravitons.  Other hypothetical particles would also show themselves such as axions which are invisible "immaterial" like particles. If the distribution of dark matter correlates identically with these hypothetical particles that allegedly fill up the universe, then this will show that the universe never began at a singularity and would also reconcile both general relativity and quantum mechanics.  This idea is not new and has been suggested in M-Theory or "String Theory.'  In this theory, it is believed that the universe is like a spring expanding and then contracting.

This new theory sounds interesting, but based on my studies in physics, it will be hard to prove.  Like String theory, there are too many guesses and what if's involved to really do anything scientifically solid. For example, suppose the universe did not have a beginning or did not begin at a singularity.  This would mean that the universe was "bouncing."  The problem with this is that one it expanded, then it would have used its energy; so when it contracts, how can it spring out again?  You can try this with a slinky or rubber band.  Pull on it enough to stretch it out but not to the point that it breaks.  Let is go without hurting yourself.  You will see that the slinky/rubber band will contract back to its original form.  It will not expand or stretch out again because it has no energy to do so.  The only way to make it spring out and contract again is if you do the test again.  So you in effect will be the eternal "prime mover."

In any event, I will be following up on this new theory and see where it goes.  As a student of physics, I try to keep up to date with the latest findings and research.


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