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Cosmologists are just now beginning to accept the possibility that the Big Bang was actually caused by a huge explosion in a Meth lab. George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?
In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded. Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies
The term ‘big bang’ was coined with derisive intent by Fred Hoyle, and its endurance testifies to Sir Fred’s creativity and wit. Indeed, the term survived an international competition in which three judges – the television science reporter Hugh Downs, the astronomer Carl Sagan, and myself – sifted through 13,099 entries from 41 countries and concluded that none was apt enough to replace it. No winner was declared, and like it or not, we are stuck with ‘big bang’. Timothy Ferris, The Whole Shebang
Perhaps like me you grew up with the notion that the whole of the matter in the universe was created in one Big Bang at a particular time in the remote past. What I’m now going to tell you is that this is wrong. Professor Fred Hoyle, radio broadcast
This Big Bang assumption is much the less palatable of the two. For it’s an irrational process that can’t be described in scientific terms. On philosophical grounds too I can’t see any good reason for preferring the Big Bang idea ... It can never be challenged by a direct appeal to observation. Professor Fred Hoyle, radio broadcast 1950, ‘The Nature of the Universe’
As you probably know there are two forms of cosmology: what has been spoken of as the Big Bang and the Steady State. Professor Fred Hoyle, The Cosmologists, BBC 1963
But they don’t give any physical description of what causes them to begin ... The universe itself didn’t have to have a beginning. ibid.
In the beginning I thought this was pretty bad for the theory ... It’s a completely open question today I believe whether as to whether this background really comes from the general universe or whether it comes from sources in the general manner of radio-astronomy. Professor Fred Hoyle, The Violent Universe, BBC 1969
[Fred Hoyle devoted] his life to fighting the notion that the cosmos began at a certain point in time, with a big bang. He preferred the view Aristotle held millennia earlier: The universe has always existed, and always will. A turning point in Hoyle’s young life came at age thirteen, when his parents gave him the gift that has changed so many other young lives: a small telescope. They allowed him to stay up all night looking at the stars and planets. As fate would show, Hoyle and Gamow had more in common than the fact that each had received a telescope in his thirteenth year. Each was a father, intellectually speaking, and each exploded with far more ideas than could ever be true. After working on radar in England during the Second World War, Hoyle became an astronomy Professor at Cambridge University. He also began developing talks about astronomy on BBC radio and writing popular articles and books. Like Gamow, Hoyle was becoming a highly visible interpreter of science to lay-people. During one of his popular radio broadcasts in 1950 Hoyle coined the phrase big bang as a description of Gamow's repugnant (to Hoyle) theory. Hoyle had meant the term to be derogatory, but it was so compelling, so stirring of the imagination, that it stuck, but without the negative overtones. Hoyle became the most visible proponent of an alternative theory to big bang, known as the steady state theory. The struggle for intellectual supremacy between these two theories dominated cosmology for almost two decades. George Smoot & Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time pp67-68
In ground-breaking papers in 1922 and 1924, [Alexander] Friedmann demonstrated mathematically that the universe could very well be a dynamic system that, regulated by the gravity of general relativity, could expand indefinitely or collapse back on itself like a deflated balloon. A third possibility was that the universe was in a state of precise balance between infinite expansion and collapse. What would determine the true dynamic of the universe? According to Friedmann, the average density of mass within the universe would define how space curved as described by general relativity. Such a curvature would establish the way the universe changed over time
Einstein would have none of this. Philosophically insecure with anything but a static universe, he had inserted into the equations of general relativity his famous ‘cosmological constant’. This was a mathematical contrivance aimed at preventing just the kinds of unstable universe predicated by Friedmann who, in making a number of simplifying assumptions, had removed the constant from his own mathematical calculations. John C Mather & John Boslough, The Very First Light p36
If the universe were expanding, the question remained: What had it expanded from? Georges Lemaître, one of the strangest characters to wander onto the stage of twentieth-century physics, was the first one to attempt an answer. Born in Belgium in 1894, Lemaître was plump, irritating, and ahead of his time. In 1927, unaware of Alexander Friedmann’s work, Lemaître published a paper in an obscure Belgian journal in which he drew a mathematical theory that linked general relativity with the comparatively few redshifts that already had been seen. Lemaître concluded in the paper that the universe must be expanding. His hypothesis was two years before Hubble’s announcement that he had discovered galaxies in recession.
Later the same year at the fifth Solvay conference on physics in Brussels, Lemaître tried to get Einstein’s attention. Normally tolerant and kind, Einstein pushed him aside abruptly, saying, ‘Vos calcus sont corrects, mais vorte physique est abominable.’ [Your calculations are correct, but your physical insight is abominable.] Undeterred by Einstein, already the most famous physicist in the world, and bolstered by the confirmation Hubbles’s redshift observations had given his new theory, Lemaître extrapolated his theory to what seemed to him its logical conclusion: The universe must have originated in a primordial explosion.
A letter Lemaître wrote to Nature magazine in 1931 was effectively the charter of what was to become the Big Bang theory. He theorized that this primordial explosion, occurring on ‘a day without yesterday’, had burst forth from an extremely dense point of Space and Time. He began calling this the ‘primeval atom’. By now Lemaître had become a celebrity in his own right for his revolutionary ideas. At an immense gathering of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in London the same year, he speculated before an audience of several thousand scientists that the cosmic rays may have originated in the primordial explosion. Eventually, he thought, they might prove to be material evidence of the universe’s ‘natural beginning’. ibid. pp41&42
There’s every reason to expect that in the different big bangs that occur you will have different conditions, different values, for what we call the Fundamental Constants. So the fact that the Constants of Nature are suitable for life which is clearly true we observe may not be a universal fact, may be an accident. Professor Steven Weinberg, interview Professor Richard Dawkins
There’s every reason to expect that in the different big bangs that occur you will have different conditions, different values, for what we call the Fundamental Constants. So the fact that the Constants of Nature are suitable for life which is clearly true we observe may not be a universal fact, may be an accident. ibid.
I suspect that at the very beginning of the Big Bang nature was quite simple; and it was only then as the incredible temperature began to cool off that all the rich variety of forces and particles that we know about to today began to appear. Professor Steven Weinberg
According to the standard big-bang theory the universe came into existence in a moment of infinite temperature and density some ten to fifteen billion years ago. Again and again when I have given a talk about the big-bang theory someone in the audience during the question period has argued that the idea of a beginning is absurd; whatever moment we say saw the beginning of the big bang, there must have been a moment before that one. I have tried to explain that this is not necessarily so. It is true for instance that in our ordinary experience however cold it gets it is always possible for it to get colder, but there is such a thing as absolute zero; we cannot reach temperatures below absolute zero not because we are not sufficiently clever but because temperatures below absolute zero simply have no meaning. Stephen Hawking has offered what may be a better analogy; it makes sense to ask what is north of Austin or Cambridge or any other city, but it makes no sense to ask what is north of the North Pole. Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory pp173-174
About fifteen billion years ago there were no stars in the sky; there wasn’t even any sky. All that existed was the primordial fireball. That fireball of energy condensed into the building blocks of matter at the birth of our universe. Horizon: The Hunting of the Quark, BBC 1974
That detector, a horn, looking like an old-fashioned ear trumpet for a hard of hearing giant, sits on its hilltop in Holmdel, New Jersey. Among all the listening ears in the world it was this one that caught the crucial whisper back in 1975, the lucky start to today’s technology ... The Holmdel Whisper was no less than an echo of the origin of the universe. Horizon, A Whisper From Space, BBC 1978
Most astronomers believe that the universe is expanding and was created at one instant in a hot Big Bang some fifteen thousand million years ago ... Hubble’s Law was the first convincing support for an expanding universe and a Big Bang. Horizon: Of Big Bangs, Stick Men and Galactic Holes, BBC 1991
Hubble had found that the universe was expanding. Penzias and Wilson had heard the echo of the fireball. ibid.
And then there is the problem of lumpy galaxies: how did they form from such smooth beginnings? ibid.
The Cosmic Background Explorer – Cobi – sent up by NASA a few months before Space Telescope was launched. Its mission to search for the earliest signs of structure in the echoes of the Big Bang. Horizon: Here Be Monsters, BBC 1993