Questioning the Big Bang


The Big Bang dominates current thinking in cosmology. But the experimental evidence that backs it up is surprisingly thin. In fact there are only two pieces of evidence: the galactic redshift and the cosmic background radiation.

The Big Bang explains these observations but only by introducing problems of their own. So are there any alternative hypotheses that do a better job? Robert Soberman and Maurice Dubin have developed an idea that they say better explains the observations. They also make some testable predictions which should be able to tell which theory is right.

The main problem with the Big Bang theory is that the cosmic background radiation does not have the characteristics you’d expect to see from a Big Bang-type event. For a start, the radiation curve has the distinct whiff of a black body about it, something that can only be produced by ordinary matter radiating at a specific temperature (according to quantum mechanics, anyway). Most theorist do not imagine the Big Bang like this.  Next, the cosmic background seems to cover the sky smoothly in all directions, unlike the matter we see which is clumped into galaxies. Even the microvariations discovered by satellites such as COBE and WMAP bear no relation to the distribution of visible matter.

So what is Soberman and Dubin’s alternative? They hypothesize that interstellar space is filled with tiny clumps of hydrogen and helium atoms called cosmoids (short for cosmic meteroids). The pair have calculated that cosmoids ought to radiate at 2.735K which is exactly the temperature of the cosmic microwave background and this explains the blackbody curve (they say these cosmoids could be easily created and tested in the lab). This  radiation need only be produced by a locally smooth distribution of cosmoids for it to look the same in all directions to us.

The cosmoid idea also explains the galactic redshift. Soberman and Dubin say that cosmoids absorbing and re-emitting light from distant galaxies should redshift the light albeit in a way that is subtely different from a doppler redshift generated by an expanding universe. That subtle difference shuld be relatively easy to spot with a few observations, they say.

The pair add that evidence that cosmoids exist has already been found by experiments onboard the Pioneer and Helios spacecraft.

Oh, and as a by product, the cosmoids make up the missing mass that astronomers call dark matter.

A cracking idea! I’m looking forward to seeing how the cosmologists dismantle it.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0803.3604: Was There A Big Bang?

10 Responses to “Questioning the Big Bang”

  1. ZEPHIR says:

    I don’t like the chemistry behind such hypothesis very much. What is supposed to keep these “tiny clumps of hydrogen and helium atoms” together? I’d replace these “cosmoid” by heavier atom nuclei, stripped of electrons, so they’re repelling at the distance. Such idea explains much better the hot portion of dark matter, which is surrounding the gallaxies, while defying their gravity. Because of small particle size, they cannot radiate with common Planck curve distribution, as required.

    We can consider the Alfen’s Plasma universe hypothesis in this context.

  2. ZEPHIR says:

    The inhomogeneity was considered as the main objection against big bang hypothesis at its very beginning, so that the inflation was introduced. The foamy distribution of dark matter fits the MOND theory well, simply because the space-time cannot expand quite homogeneously and uniformly at the same moment. It doesn’t mean, though, the Big Bang hypothesis is wrong or the dark matter consist completelly of matter, the clumps of neutral hydrogen atoms the less.

  3. Brian T says:

    The experimental evidence for the concordance big bang model is hardly “thin”.

    In particular, you failed to mention the “third pillar” – the cosmic abundances of elements, including those that are not generated in any reactions known except those that occurred during the initial moments of the hot big bang.

  4. Brad Holden says:

    “For a start, the radiation curve has the distinct whiff of a black body about it, something that can only be produced by ordinary matter radiating at a specific temperature (according to quantum mechanics, anyway). Most theorist do not imagine the Big Bang like this. ”

    Does no one understand radiative transfer? This is so wrong I do not know where to begin.

  5. Croker says:

    Didn’t CHANDRA with the bullet cluster imagery demonstrate that dark matter was not baryonic?

  6. Jim Pivarski says:

    I’m glad that Brad and Brian made the points I wanted to make when I read this post. The cosmological background is more than a single point in favor of the Big Bang theory: (1) the blackbody shape (2) with small anisotropies (3) that DO correlate with observed large scale structure are three arguments in favor of the theory. On top of that, the synthesis of the right ratio of light elements depends on an exact difference of exponentially-decaying neutrons and quadratically-growing space which is very difficult to satisfy in alternate theories.

    Without inflation, the Big Bang’s problems were theoretical, not experimental. The smallness of the anisotropies are consistent with observations of the large scale structure we see today (other factors matter more), but in inflationless Big Bang, not enough of the last-scattering sky was in thermal contact to guarantee such uniformity. It was also strange that the universe should be so spatially flat today, considering that any non-zero curvature will grow with time. Both of these are solved by inflation, “the patch on the Big Bang,” but they could have equally been solved by the much less satisfying “maybe the universe was born that way” (exactly zero curvature, uniform blackbody distribution). It’s not the observations that disagree.

    Even before the bullet cluster image, there was evidence that the majority (not quite 100%) of dark matter was non-baryonic, but by spatially separating the dark matter and baryonic matter, that image made it much clearer.

    The WMAP analysis is somehow able to extract the right proportions of baryonic and non-baryonic matter from the cosmic microwave background, but I don’t understand that in detail. Those proportions were first measured in the modern universe, so that would be a non-blind confirmation.

    I’m not against re-thinking an established idea, especially since the Big Bang theory has two patches that aren’t satisfactorily-motivated yet: inflation and dark energy. But it’s dishonest to suggest that the observational evidence is much weaker than it is.

  7. KFC says:

    Surely the important point in this paper is not the strength or weakness of the evidence in favour of the Big Bang, but the fact that this same evidence can be explained by an alternate hypothesis.

    Soberman and Dubin say that some fairly straightforward observations can distinguish between these theories.

    So what are youse guys waitin’ for?

  8. [...] que suportam o Big Bang. Os cosmóides não são recentes. No entanto, a aplicação deles como alternativa ao Big Bang é relativamente recente. Pelo caminho, explicam a Matéria Negra e a Radiação Cósmica de Fundo. Como sempre, serão as [...]

  9. Interested says:

    I am not a scientist. But whatever they find at CERN after tomorrow in the months ahead, will it not settle the speculations about the beginning of the Big Bang.

    As an interested lay reader, it seems as if the turning of the key of the Alice detector will possibly replicate what it was like a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. And the (LHCb) detector is supposed to tell us where all the anti-matter or speculated anti-matter went.
    And the Atlas and CMS detectors are supposed to help us seek out the imagined and elusive Higgs boson, that gives things or particles mass.
    Or do scientists think CERN Large Hadron Collider’s detectors will not yield new science or shed new light.

  10. maxi says:

    Oh I thought this post was going to talk about The Big Bang Theory tv show.. :S

    well, nice post anyway.