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The Nature of Reality

The Big Bang’s Identity Crisis

30 May 2014, 16:36 UTC
The Big Bang’s Identity Crisis jeff_golden/Flickr, adapted under a Creative Commons license
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Think of the Big Bang, and you probably imagine a moment in time when matter, energy and space itself all burst into existence at once. Yet many astrophysicists now believe that the “Big Bang” was actually two distinct events: first the inaugural instant of space and time, and second the generation of most of the “stuff” that populates that space. So, which really deserves to be called the Big Bang?

More bang for the buck? Credit: jeff_golden/Flickr, adapted under a Creative Commons license.
Ambiguity has plagued the expression “Big Bang” since its origin. When British astronomer Fred Hoyle coined it during a radio interview in 1948, he meant it as the ultimate put down. Hoyle refused to believe that the universe had a beginning, a first moment of time and a genesis of all matter and energy. Rather, he thought that the cosmos maintained itself in a “steady state” through a slow trickle of particles into reality. He hypothesized a “creation field” that would gradually generate new matter to fill the gaps between galaxies moving away from each other, keeping the overall density of the universe the same.
Hoyle had a point: Science rightly eschews processes without clear mechanisms, ...

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