Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What is the Big Bang Theory?

Origin of the universe has been a subject of debate probably since humans realized that they could use symbols as a means of communication. Back in the days when there were no papers, ancient scientists with white coat made of 100% cow leather would draw strange shapes on cave walls during a summit to share their opinions on whether the stars were some sort of a fence at the edge of universe or there could be something else beyond.

The debate continues until today, still with drawings and plethora of equations that only people who at least have masters degrees can read and understand. It is not only subject of science either, as crowds of people with religious and philosophical backgrounds also join the argument fair. And as you probably have expected by now, no one knows the right answer. The closest we can get to the origin of the universe is the Big Bang theory, but that does not explain even a bit about the origin of the universe; the theory can only speak for the expansion of the universe. Of course, the discussion is about the Big Bang Theory science, not the TV show.

What is the Big Bang Theory
The image has nothing to do with Big Bang Theory, bit it looks good
It has been well-established that people can be wrong – in fact, they often are. Misconceptions about the Big Bang theory are just few good examples of that.

  • Big Bang Theory does not try to explain the origin of the universe, but the development of the universe starting from a dense marble-sized thing into what it is today. The theory makes no attempt to claim that it knows what started the universe, what happened before the Big Bang, and what exists beyond the universe.
  • Big Bang Theory has never been a concept of explosion, but expansion of the universe. The expansion probably happened faster than speed of light, so it would look like an explosion, but nothing actually exploded. This kind of confusion is partly because of its name. In classic sense, a Big Bang is what you normally expect to hear when someone fires off cannon or other big guns. Unlike with most things when you have to admit that you’re wrong, you can actually blame someone for this confusion. Sir Fred Hoyle was a critic of the theory and he coined the term “Big Bang” as a derogatory comment. However the name stuck and nobody seems to mind about that.
Among many proponents of the Big Bang theory, there are some popular names you should really look up such as Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Edwin Hubble.

Theory – As Seen by Science

From the perspective of science, a theory is simply an attempt to explain a particular phenomenon, event, or aspect of life including the universe. People also easily confuse between theories and laws not because the two are particularly similar but mainly it is just people’s nature to get confused by many things. Unlike a theory, laws are clear descriptive explanations on how the nature will behave under certain circumstances.

Theories are more like hypothesis; scientists try to draw conclusions about a particular subject based on related signs, symptoms, and events. Of course the conclusion must be an educated and informed one. It is like weather forecast, but concerning much bigger scope. Theories can be disproven by the discovery of new evidences; it can also grow stronger if tests and observations support the existing theory. In case miracles happen, but most likely will not, and suddenly you understand the universe better than anyone else, even you are allowed to suggest a new a theory. If you can prove that the Big Bang is wrong by presenting some undeniable contradictory evidences, the theory must be discarded.


The Big Bang Theory suggests and explains that the universe started as hot dense small thing and then expanded to form the universe that we know today and it is constantly expanding. The expansion started a long time ago, making it impossible to actually see what actually happened back then; CCTV was not yet invented 14 billion years ago to record footage.

Most of the knowledge we know about the Big Bang came from mathematical models and formulas. One of the undeniable evidences to support the theory is called Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). Many scientists believe that CMB is the leftover of radiation in the aftermath of Big Bang. When the universe started its expansion, it underwent rapid inflation and released enormous heat. CMB is the remaining heat of the event.

Edwin Hubble suggested the first observational basis for the expansion of the universe. He noticed that the velocity of stars or galaxies appeared to be approximately proportional to their distance from Earth. In an easier language, the further away stars were from Earth, the faster they moved away from the planet; so he concluded that the universe was expanding.

CMB was discovered in 1964 by two radio astronomers, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. It basically confirmed or at least supported Hubble’s suggestion. CMB are found all over the universe and spread equally in all directions; this means the universe continues to expand until today and probably to infinity. If it stops expanding, CMB should not be around anywhere because it would eventually dissipate at one point. Also, the universe has no center so the expansion happens everywhere all the time in all directions.

CMB also gives clues to understand the composition of universe. Scientists came up with a conclusion that only 5% of the universe is made up of matters such as galaxies, planets, and stars; because they don’t know what the remaining 95% is, they just call it dark energy and dark matter.

There was a default assumption that the universe today looks exactly the same as it was decades ago. While things change quite rapidly and many times unexpectedly here on Earth, people thought that everything stayed the same in the distant skies; again, people were wrong. The universe you have today is different from how it was yesterday, and it will be different the next time you check again.

Big Bang Theory has been popular among scientists for decades. It gained its way to mainstream popularity thanks to a comedy show with the same title premiered on CBS in 2007. While the Big Bang Theory does not explain what happened before the universe started expanding, at least you can say with a tone of certainty that fewer people watched CBS before it aired for the first time.