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An Overview of the Big Bang Theory and the Studies Surrounding the Future Expansion and Collapse of Space

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A theory is based upon one or more hypotheses and is backed by evidence (“What”). Also, a theory uses logical explanations and reasoning based on the hypotheses and evidence to describe how or why something happened (“What”). The most popular and widely excepted theory of how the universe began is the Big Bang (“Origins”). A common misconception of the Big Bang Theory is that people tend to think of the Big Bang as a giant explosion that created the universe; however experts say that there was no explosion (“Big Bang Theory-An”). In general, the Big Bang Theory states that the universe began from a single or an initial point which expanded and continues to expand to form the universe as we know it (“What is the Big”). Around fourteen billion years ago, the universe came into existence as a “singularity” (“Big Bang Theory-An”). Scientists cannot say for sure exactly what singularities are, but they believe singularities exist at the core of black holes (“Big Bang Theory-An”). Black holes are areas that consist of intense gravitational pressure (“Big Bang Theory-An”). The pressure from black holes is believed to be so intense that finite matter is squashed into infinite density (“Big Bang Theory-An”). So, in simpler terms, singularities are just zones of intense density (“Big Bang Theory-An”). Our universe is conceived to have begun as an extremely small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something that scientists now call a singularity (“Big Bang Theory-An”). Overtime, this singularity expanded causing it to change from being very small and hot to being the size and temperature of our universe today (“Big Bang Theory-An”). For example, picture an infinitesimally small balloon that continually expands to the size of the current universe (“Big Bang Theory-An”). Essentially, this is the Big Bang Theory (“Big Bang Theory-An”).

Now let’s go into the Big Bang Theory in much greater detail. Albert Einstein, a German-American physicist, set the stage for the conceptual development of an expanding universe when he published his Theory of Relativity in 1915 (“Big”). Einstein’s Theory of relativity stated that the universe had a static, uniform, isotropic distribution of matter (Parker). In 1919, William de Sitter, Dutch astronomer, demonstrated that Einstein’s theory could also be used to describe an expanding universe (“Big”). In 1929, American astronomer, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding with great speed (“The Big”). Edwin Hubble determined that the universe is constantly expanding (“Big”). His observation of the large red shifts in the spectra of the galaxies led to his conclusion that the galaxies are continually moving apart at tremendous velocities (“Big”). Edwin also noted that the speed with which the galaxies are moving away from our own galaxy is proportional to the distance from our galaxy (“The Big”). Georges Lemaitre, who worked with Edwin Hubble in 1924, developed a simple solution to Einstein’s equation that stated the universe would forever be in a state of expansion (Parker). Georges Lemaitre’s theory was very similar to Aleksander Friedmann’s theory that was created ten years earlier (Parker). Friedmann, Russian mathematician, analyzed Einstein’s cosmological constant that produced a static universe, and he determined that the universe would expand forever (Parker). Einstein analyzed both Georges Lemaitre’s and Aleksander Friedmann’s solutions to his equation and determined them as being false (Parker). When Hubble discovered that the universe is constantly expanding through his incredible observation, it backed Lemaitre’s and Friedmann’s theories with evidence, and therefore forced Einstein to drop his static universe model (“Big”). Additionally, Vesto Melvin Slipher, an American astronomer, who took pictures of the red-shift of most of the same galaxies, drew similar conclusions to those of Edwin Hubble (“Big”). Edwin Hubble’s astronomical discovery is considered to be the most significant of the century (“Big”). The only question that was left unanswered at the time was: what was the origination of the universe’s expansion (Parker)? Lemaitre took on the challenge of answering this question and decided to use the second law of thermodynamics as his starting point (Parker).

Lemaitre assumed that the expansion of the universe was an increase in the disorder of a system, which originated form a singularity of neutrons (Parker). He surmised that this primordial nucleus would explode where an increase of entropy of the universe would be apparent (Parker). In May of 1931, Lemaitre published his theory of the universe in the journal Nature (Parker). His theory was met by much criticism and general skepticism (Parker). George Gamow built upon Georges Lemaitre’s work, using recent discoveries of the time about the quantum theory (Gribbin). Lemaitre believed that a nucleus containing only neutrons was the starting point of the universe, but Gamow believed that the nucleus was contained protons and electrons as well as neutrons (Gribbin). Gamow determined that in the early universe temperatures would exceed one billion degrees Kelvin due to the extremely high amount of radiant energy (Gribbin). Gamow believed that when the universe was five minutes old, particles would not combine, but as expansion began the temperatures would decrease, allowing nuclear fission to take place (Gribbin). At this time, atoms would form as protons and neutrons and would then attach themselves to one another (Gribbin). Gamow then thought that all the elements in the universe were formed during the attachment of protons and neutrons to one another (Gribbin). One year after Gamow published his theory of the universe it was proven inaccurate since the math did not add up (Gribbin). After Gamow’s failure, Sir Fred Hoyle and his colleagues created a model of the universe that became widely accepted for religious reasons if not so much for its scientific hypothesis (Parker). Sir Fred Hoyle suggested that the universe is infinitely old and has remained in a steady state and all the while continually expanding (Parker). Hoyle’s idea of how the universe was created was called the Steady State Theory (Parker).

Also, he suggested that the galaxies are not receding form one another, but the galaxies are expanding because space is being created between the galaxies (Parker). Sir Fred Hoyle suggested that matter had to be created in these new areas where space was expanding between the galaxies in order for the average density to remain constant (Parker). Additionally, Hoyle’s theory stated that only one hydrogen atom needs to be created every year in an area the size of a one hundred meter cube in order to account for the expansion (Parker). Hoyle suggests that this spontaneous creation of matter would allow for the formation of new galaxies between ancient ones and the universe would maintain its steady state (Parker). Through the spontaneous generation of matter, Hoyle suggested that astronomers would be able to detect young galaxies in the midsts of very old ones (Parker). This was one of the numerous inconsistencies with the Steady State Theory (Parker). In the 1950’s, Steady State Theorists took a heavy blow when the discovery of radio galaxies substantiated the Big Bang cosmology, indicating that galaxies had evolved and were very active billions of years ago (Parker). So, the Steady State Theory was proved to be incorrect and therefore failed in its attempt to disprove the Big Bang Theory (Parker). In 1965, the Big Bang Theory finally received substantial evidence (Parker). Bell Labs’ Arnos Penzias and Robert Wilson were attempting to measure the radiation from the Milky Way Galaxy (Parker). When Penzias and Wilson were close to narrowing in on their source, a noise was interfering with their signal and was coming from all directions, not once fluctuating (Parker). Penzias and Wilson then determined that this noise originated from cosmic radiation and had temperature of three degrees Kelvin (Parker). Unable to measure the radiation from the Milky Way, Arnos Penzias and Robert Wilson decided to write a paper on this unexplainable noise that had interfered with their research (Parker). At about the same time that Penzias and Wilson were trying to measure the radiation from the Milky Way, Robert Dicke of Princeton University started to search for fossil remains from the Big Bang (Parker). Dicke proposed that the Big Bang emanated from a previous universe and that the temperature in excess of one billion degrees was necessary to create our universe (Parker). Also, Dicke, based on Planck’s law that all bodies emit energy that can be documented on an electromagnetic diagram, suggested that this energy would in turn produce an extremely small amount of radiation that should be measurable to this day (Parker).

The amount of radiation effects the length of the wave which can be registered anywhere form X-rays to radio waves and everything in between (Parker). The amount of energy that is emitted by a body depends on several factors (Parker). The first criterion is the type of element that the body is made of (Parker). The second factor is the amount of surface area that the body has and the third consideration is the temperature of the surface of the body (Parker). The black body is a type of body that emits the largest amount of energy out of all the possible body types (Parker). By utilizing Planck’s Black Body Curve as a guide, Dicke suggested that the Cosmic Background Radiation of the Big Bang should be about three degrees of above absolute zero (Parker). One of Dicke’s colleagues Jim Peebles determined that when the fireball’s remnants cooled to three thousand degrees Kelvin, nuclei would be able to form and helium was also able to form from hydrogen (Parker). Peebles concluded that this would leave the universe with a mixture of exactly seventy-five percent hydrogen and twenty-five percent helium, which is about the same amount of helium found in the sun (Parker). Additionally, Peebles theorized that since the two most abundant elements (hydrogen and helium) were created when the universe was at three thousand degrees Kelvin and since then the universe has expanded by a factor of one thousand that the radiation from the Big Bang should have a temperature of ten degrees Kelvin (Parker). Later correction made to these equations determined the temperature to be three degrees Kelvin (Parker). A few months, Penzias discovered that Peeble’s group was searching for this relic radiation without success (Parker). Upon further review, they realized that Arnos Penzias and Robert Wilson had made one of the most important discoveries in the astronomical community, confirming the Big Bang Theory (Parker). Overall, contributions from Albert Einstein (The Theory Of Relativity), Georges Lemaitre, Aleksander Friedmann, Edwin Hubble, Vesto Melvin Slipher, Robert Dicke, Jim Peebles, Arnos Penzias, and Robert Wilson helped to support and somewhat validate the Big Bang Theory (Parker).

Today, Edwin Hubble’s work of measuring the expansion of the universe is being continued through NASA’s spacecrafts such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope (“The Big”). One of the major goals of these spacecrafts has been to determine if the universe will forever expand, or if it will someday stop expanding and start collapsing (“The Big”).

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An Overview of the Big Bang Theory and the Studies Surrounding the Future Expansion and Collapse of Space. (2018, November 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from
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