Big Bang Denialism?*

Climate change, evolution, vaccines, genetically modified crops, and now the origin of the universe!


Big Bang God

LiveScience is reporting a new study by two theoretical physicists from the University of Lethbridge in Canada that suggests that the universe did not burst forth from a singularity 13.8 billion years ago. This "theory" was devised by Belgian Roman Catholic priest Georges Lemaïtre in the 1920s based on his interpretation of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. The Big Bang looks suspiciously like it conforms to Catholic doctrine that asserts that the universe was creatio ex nihilo. The Big Bang theory seemed to be strongly confirmed when astronomer Edwin Hubble found in 1929 that the stars and galaxies are red-shifted which indicated that the universe was expanding. The Big Bang eventually became the "consensus" theory among cosmologists.

So what the new Canadian Big Bang deniers claiming? From LiveScience:

In the new formulation, the universe was never a singularity, or an infinitely small and infinitely dense point of matter. In fact, the universe may have no beginning at all.

"Our theory suggests that the age of the universe could be infinite," said study co-author Saurya Das, a theoretical physicist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. …

There are other problems brewing in physics — namely, that the two most dominant theories, quantum mechanics and general relativity, can't be reconciled.

Quantum mechanics says that the behavior of tiny subatomic particles is fundamentally uncertain. This is at odds with Einstein's general relativity, which is deterministic, meaning that once all the natural laws are known, the future is completely predetermined by the past, Das said.

And neither theory explains what dark matter, an invisible form of matter that exerts a gravitational pull on ordinary matter but cannot be detected by most telescopes, is made of.

Das and his colleagues wanted a way to resolve at least some of these problems. To do so, they looked at an older way of visualizing quantum mechanics, called Bohmian mechanics. In it, a hidden variable governs the bizarre behavior of subatomic particles. Unlike other formulations of quantum mechanics, it provides a way to calculate the trajectory of a particle.

Using this old-fashioned form of quantum theory, the researchers calculated a small correction term that could be included in Einstein's theory of general relativity. Then, they figured out what would happen in deep time.

The upshot? In the new formulation, there is no singularity, and the universe is infinitely old.

Well, maybe there was no singularity, but least there apparently was some kind of cosmic fireball 13.8 billion years ago. Damn it! Science never seems to get "settled!"

*Carefully adjust your sarc meter calibrations.

NEXT: Friday A/V Club: Uncle Sam Reminds You to Visit Your Local Draft Board

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. But….CONSENSUS!!! All the top physicists said the Big Bang was real, so it must be!!
    /Tony derp

  2. I feel dumber for having read that LiveScience! tripe. Just sheer wave after wave douche-chills for living on the same planet for people that write that or are ‘educated’ by it.

    You want to hear the true death rattle of the human spirit? Read that article.

    1. There’s really no good way to explain something like this to the Tweeters and Facebookers. It can’t be done. You either do it right and they have no idea what you’re talking about, or you dumb it down to the point that you look like you are the idiot. Live Science always chooses option 2. Presumably they get paid for it, though, so they got that going for them.

  3. I am a Big Bang Denialist. I refuse to believe anyone enjoyed that horrible show.

    1. Your comment was way funnier than the show.

    2. I’m also a Two and a Half Men denialist.

      1. I deny CBS exists, really.

    3. Kaley Cuoco

      1. pretty girls are a dime a dozen. I really don’t understand the obession- we can find more attractive women walking down any street in the country on any given day.

        1. Doubly so now that she has that terrible, terrible haircut.

        2. She has a charismatic sexiness.

        3. Well, not annnnny country. I mean I’m sure there are some pygmy tribes that find their 4 foot tall banana titted, pear shaped women highly attractive, it’s just that they don’t know any better 😀

      2. She was an average-looking girl, and then she got old and cut her hair short.


        1. And such sharp knees.

    4. We were there when it happened. Unfortunately, we weren’t in our present forms – just a bunch of entangled quarks. Too bad we can’t remember it all.

  4. In the real world there are lots of questions yet to be answered with answers that beg new questions.

    1. Especially for people who don’t know what question begging really is.

  5. *Carefully adjust your sarc meter calibrations.

    Should have read that first

  6. The only thing to be done is cut open a galaxy to count its rings and match them against the computer model.

    1. ^^SCIENCE

  7. And neither theory explains what dark matter, an invisible form of matter that exerts a gravitational pull on ordinary matter but cannot be detected by most telescopes, is made of.

    It can’t be detected electromagnetically by any telescopes. But there are some candidates for DM in extensions of the standard model of particle physics. I think the LHC may have been eating away at the parameter space for those, though.

    1. DM is an interesting question. No one has ever seen it. We only think it is exists because you can’t square our understanding of gravity with the current state of the universe and the amount of matter we can see.

      Maybe it is the case that there is all of these dark matter out there we can’t see. It might also be the case that our understanding of gravity is incomplete. I know saying that is heresy, but I don’t see how it is any less possible than there being all of this matter out there we can’t detect.

      1. It’s not heresy. That is/was the whole point of MOND. The problem is that GR passes every test it has ever been put through with flying colors. And MOND has its own issues.

        1. It passes every test except for explaining the macro state of the universe. It doesn’t pass that one, without dark matter anyway.

          1. DM isn’t a problem for GR, though. GR doesn’t care what the mass comes from.

            1. If you take all of the mass that is observable by methods other than gravity, GR doesn’t predict the behavior of that mass. We infer that dark matter must exist because GR predicts local effects of gravity so perfectly, and frankly we have bo idea why there would be a discontinuity or where to look for it. Also, if you just assume that there is 70% more mass than we can observe, GR works again. But it is still a theory that is incomplete in that we can’t explain why DM exists other than “because it makes GR work at the largest scales we can observe. ” That’s not a terible thing. We did the same thing with predicting the neutron and the element helium. But until we find another way of proving its existence DM is just theory b

              1. I think that is a fair description.

      2. “our understanding of gravity is incomplete”

        That it is a fact. Quantum Physics has some interesting theories about it but no one really knows the whys or the hows. Just that it exists and we can make some predictions about its behaviors.

        1. Wrong. We all know that gravity is a social construct, a malicious invention of the patriarchy to devalue women by making their lady parts sag.

          1. *applause*

      3. Maybe dark matter is the 21st Century’s Luminiferous ?ther.

        1. And don’t even get me started on dark matter, that evil product of colonialism.

      4. Reminds me of one of MY pet theories…

        I keep wondering if photons DON’T really have zero mass.

        I mean, even if their mass is WAY down into the negative exponents of grams, haven’t there been One HUGE SHITLOAD of them radiated out into interstellar space over the past dozen or more Billion Years?!

        Might all those tiny critters have added up to a noticeable mass by now?

        Just annoyingly wondering….


    2. cannot be detected by most telescopes

      AFAIK, it can’t be detected by any telescopes. And its existence has not yet been experimentally determined. But I’m just a dumb chemist, so I could be wrong.

      1. Astronomy isn’t an experimental science (unless you count numerical simulations). It’s observational. But the observational evidence for DM is pretty strong:

        1) Galaxy rotation curves being flat out to radii where we can’t detect any EM signature of matter
        2) X-ray/gravitational lensing maps of colliding galaxy clusters that show the gravity does not track with the baryonic (normal) matter (that is what the X-rays show you)
        3) The WMAP, and now Planck, cosmological parameters that give a matter density of around 25%, but for which baryonic matter can only account for about 3% (I think my numbers on that are right).

        1. One day it will be an experimental science. That day will be awesome.

        2. I think of observational as experimental in the sense that you can hypothesize something, then go try to gather physical evidence of its existence. I can’t help but think that if we can get a better theoretical handle, we can predict an observation result (or design an observational technique) and see if the results are consistent with the hypothesis. Likewise, we may be able to develop a new observational method where the signature of DM is unique and irrefutable.

          1. To be brutally honest, DM troubles me because it just seems… so ad hoc. That’s probably due to my age and my unfamiliarity with GR and any QM that doesn’t directly relate to molecules, EM, and solids (spectroscopist by training, not astronomer!).

            1. OMC, DM troubled a lot of people. I think it still does trouble some astronomers. But at least in some of the extensions of the standard particle model, DM is a particle that simply doesn’t interact electromagnetically. Neutrinos actually fit the bill in that regard but there aren’t enough of them and they don’t satisfy other requirements (look up hot vs cold dark matter if you are interested).

              Unfortunately, I think some of the supersymmetric particle theories that people hoped would provide DM candidates are being constrained by LHC experiments (though I don’t know the current state of that). It just makes it harder to think of what DM might be. There are other avenues of research looking for the EM signatures of DM/anti-DM particle annihilation. There have been some claims of possible, low significance detections, but nothing that has panned out.

              1. OK, thanks, this is fairly much what I thought. But like I said, I’m just a layman in anything outside electron-related areas, so I appreciate enlightenment from people who actually know something.

                1. No need to thank, outreach is one of my favorite parts of my job.

                  1. I don’t know why the (posited) existence of DM should be that much more troubling than the existence of any other particle. How are the particles of the standard model, or any of the particles known at the birth of quantum mechanics, any different? Or, how about spin? We have post facto theories that account for these things and in some cases (e.g. electron spin in QED) make their existence absolute necessities, but this is all just rationalization after the fact. The universe told us that they (or that things that are described well by the mathematics) exist. If DM exists, the same thing will happen. I don’t see much difference between DM now and any other particle in the past. We just happen to be living through that period in which the theory isn’t established. I’m willing to bet that future physicists will have no trouble accepting DM or think of it as any more ad hoc than anything else.

          2. I can’t help but think that if we can get a better theoretical handle, we can predict an observation result (or design an observational technique) and see if the results are consistent with the hypothesis

            Oh absolutely. That is how astronomy gets done. When I say it isn’t experimental, what I mean is we can’t set up a controlled experiment, tweak things, and see how things react.

    3. Would not black holes constitute dark matter?

      1. No, not at all the same thing, from my understanding.

      2. “Dark matter” can have a broad meaning. When it was first being discussed it basically just meant matter we think is there because of its gravitational effect but that we can’t detect electromagnetically. From that perspective, an isolated black hole (when there is stuff around them, you can see that stuff), or even very dim stars, low density gas, planets, people, that are too far away to detect radiation from all could be classified as dark matter.

        But when dark matter is talked about today, it is usually in reference to non-baryonic (i.e., not made of quarks, so practically speaking not protons or neutrons), non-electromagnetically interacting matter. Neutrinos fit that bill. But then it is further broken down between “hot” dark matter (which actually just means traveling at relativistic velocities, so that is what neutrinos would fall under) and cold dark matter, which is what an astronomer probably means when they talk about the mysterious stuff that 20% of the universe seems to be made of.

        The reason for needing cold DM is that DM is thought to form the gravitational seeds around which galaxies formed, but for that to happen the DM has to form dense “clumps”. Neutrinos travel too fast to do that.

    4. Dark matter exists solely to make observable phenomena meet the known science.

  8. I have been reading about this. It might be the case but I am skeptical for two reasons. First, the big band theory is not what disproved the steady state universe. Hubble’s discovery of an expanding universe did that. All the Big Ban Theory did was run the equations backwards to see what the universe should have looked like in the past given Hubble’s discovery. I have yet to see how this theory accounts for the expanding universe or really explains why it is the universe started expanding when it wasn’t at some point.

    Second, the big bang theory was generally dismissed when it was first proposed. Murry Gell-Mann gave it the name as an insult. The theory was only widely accepted after Penzies and Wilson not only discovered the background radiation predicted by the theory but also found the radiation to be exactly the temperature the theory said it should be. So BBT has a prediction that has been confirmed by observation. This theory to my knowledge doesn’t have that.

    So I am very skeptical of this. Maybe it is true. But I reserve any judgement until it makes predictions that are borne out by observation. Moreover, even if it does, I am not giving up on the BBT until someone explains to me some observation that it doesn’t predict that this theory does.

    1. Moreover, even if it does, I am not giving up on the BBT until someone explains to me some observation that it doesn’t predict that this theory does.

      The original BBT did have problems, which is why inflation was developed. I didn’t read the LiveScience article. Do they discuss any of the issues inflation helps explain?

      1. No true. Inflation was developed before the BBT. Hubble found that every galaxy was red shifted proportionate to its distance from earth in the 1920s. The BBT wasn’t developed until the 1950s. After Hubble, there was no doubt that the universe was expanding. The BBT was just a way to account for that or a logical inference drawn from it, depending how you look at it.

        1. Inflation is something different than the simple observation of the expanding Universe.

          1. Whatever it is, it isn’t a monetary phenomenon. You SFed the link.

            And effectively it is the same thing. Hubble proved the universe is expanding. His observation can mean only that. So any theory of cosmological origins is going to have to explain why the universe is expanding and why it either was once a singularity or at some point wasn’t expanding but started to.

            1. Working link

              Inflation refers to a period of exponential expansion in the first tiny fraction of a second after the BB. Without it, BBT has some issues.

            2. And effectively it is the same thing.

              It’s not the same thing at all. Just check the link for details. Expansion =/= inflation.

              Furthermore, the LiveScience article concludes with :

              Either way, the universe was once very, very small and hot.

              The researchers here just think the universe was never a singularity, but a universe that was once much smaller and hotter could still account for the CMB.

              1. But how does it account for how it got that way? Clearly, it wasn’t a stable state or it wouldn’t have started expanding. So what happened before that?

                1. But how does it account for how it got that way? Clearly, it wasn’t a stable state or it wouldn’t have started expanding. So what happened before that?

                  I think everyone admits they don’t know. The authors of this article don’t seem to know (based on the LiveScience coverage), but it sounds like they have ideas.

                2. Yeah, it’s open question John. Some theorists hope that string theory or some variant thereof will shed light on it. Others think it will never be scientifically accessible.

                  1. We can’t know, at least not with any current theory. All of our well-tested theories (GR and QFT) break down around the point at which singularity is formed (e.g. when tracing the expanding universe back to its starting “point”). At that point, it is impossible to say what happened before. It’s not really even worth asking what GR or QFT say, because it doesn’t matter. We know that they no longer give coherent answers under these conditions.

        2. The thing that blows my mind is that, with expansion, everything is moving away from everything else i.e. they are not moving away from a common starting point.

          1. I would love to know what went through Hubble’s mind when he saw all of those red shifts. It had to be one of the great WTF moments in history.

            1. If it was me, it would have been a few stiff drinks and then go hide under the covers.

            2. Kind of like being Galileo taking his first good look at Jupiter or the Sun. Or Eratosthenes measuring the size of the Earth. Or maybe being at the first atomic bomb test.

            3. “Oh shit, we really are the center of the Universe. “

          2. If everything is moving away from everything else, then it must have had a common starting point.

            1. Yeah, I would think so too. But I’ve heard a couple of different cosmologists explain this and they’re all quite adamant about that point.

              1. If everything is moving away from everything else, then everything must have been closer to everything else at some point. Keep going backwards, and everything must have started at a common point.

                1. Keep going backwards, and everything must have started at a common point…

                  But… what if it wasn’t a common starting point but a common intersecting point instead?

                2. sarcasmic, I think the confusion is that you are envisioning the existing matter (or its early constituents) expanding outward into something, whether that be existing space or something else. And that you could therefore stand “outside” the explosion/expansion, and so watch everything proceed from some point.

                  That might be valid in some sense of a higher dimension(s) than 3, but it’s not the way we typically think of the Big Bang. The Big Bang created space and time (at least so far as we can understand those concepts) and then space started to expand, literally the distance between two points started to get bigger. That expansion started happening everywhere, and everything started expanding from everywhere else. There is no meaningful (at least in our current understanding) sense of something happening outside or beyond the Big Bang.

                  The balloon analogy works well here. To a 2D creature on the surface of the balloon, there is no center point from which the expansion proceeds. We only are aware of a center of the balloon because we perceive a third spatial dimension.

                  1. There’s also an issue with what are the accessible parts of the universe. As an observer, I’m always limited to only that which is in my light cone. The fact that my light cone limits my access to other parts of the universe in the present implies that it limits my access to other parts of the universe in the past, including at the moment of creation.

            2. Space herpes!

              1. How revolting!

            3. The 2D analogy of the surface of a balloon works well. There is no center of the expansion for someone on the surface of the balloon. Making the jump to 3D is difficult, but that is the analogy.

            4. If everything is moving away from everything else, then it must have had a common starting point.

              Not at all. The universe could be infinite. Strange things happen when something is infinitely big. Picture a number line that goes off to infinity in either direction. It can “contract” for as long as you want and it will never be compressed into a single point.

          3. Because there wasn’t even vacuum before. Even the vacuum through which things expand is created and expanding at the same rate. So emptines is expanding at the same rate as matter. It isn’t intuitive and is really hard to wrap your head around. There is no center of the Universe. Even worse, in even a large universe, there are probably an uncountably infinite number of places where the local space is the same as ours and every quantum state has been explored somewhere in this Universe.

            1. It’s been posited that there was vacuum before. That is to say, prior to the Big Bang, there was the vacuum described by quantum field theory (or whatever its ultimate extension is). The mathematics of QFT allow for the spontaneous creation of “virtual” particles that leverage the time-energy uncertainty principle. As long as the length of their existence times their energy falls below a certain number (reduced Planck’s constant divided by 2), nothing stops them from coming into existence and then disappearing. This is referred to as a “quantum fluctuation”. There are propositions that this is what has happened with the universe. As far as we can tell, the universe has zero total energy (or very close to it). Thus, the time-energy uncertainty principle could allow it to pop into existence and exist for a very long time as another example of a quantum fluctuation (albeit a very large one). None of this is anything other than speculation, of course. It is a plausible explanation, though, and implies that there would have been the vacuum and (relativistic extensions of) quantum mechanics before the universe.

          4. It can be projected to have a common starting point if you assume a 4th spatial dimension.

            1. If the universe was truly crushed into a singularity prior to – what would one call it, the ‘baryonic epoch?’ – one might conjecture the entire universe was entangled with itself – it was everywhere, everything, everytime, at once.

          5. The thing that blows my mind is that, with expansion, everything is moving away from everything else…

            If everything is moving away from everything else, then galactic collisions could not occur. Obviously, some are moving toward other things…

            1. See.More, you are correct. On “small” (cosmologically speaking) scales, gravity overwhelms the expansion. You have to move to large scales (to what we call the Hubble flow) before you start to see the effects of expansion.

              It’s is also worth stressing that it is NOT simply the case that galaxies are moving away from eachother like cars going in opposite directions down the road. The road itself is expanding, which is to say space itself is expanding. Even that is a bad analogy because the road is a substance. When we say space, what we mean is the distance between two points, but those can simply be mathematical coordinates. There doesn’t need to be particles or galaxies at those points.

      2. 1. The article I read the other day on this new theory said it did explain dark matter and energy (or there wasn’t a need for it, or something?).

        2. My problem now is that if there is a steady state universe, how does one account for the observed expansion?

        3. As a layman, inflation has always seemed a little too hokey for me. I mean the universe expands faster than the speed of light for some period to account for a hole in the model? That has never been explained to my satisfaction (again, as a layman). If I were looking for an explanation to DM/DE, that is where I’d start looking for discrepancies/alternative theories.

        1. Inflation is something separate from DM/DE. But the idea behind inflation is that as the early Universe goes through “state changes” it provides the energy necessary to fuel the exponential expansion. There isn’t any violation of GR with space expanding faster than the speed of light because there isn’t a particle that is actually traversing some distance faster than the speed of light. It’s the distance between particles (or points in space, really) that is increasing.

          1. I understand all that. I’m simply suspicious of it. Sounds a bit like magic to me. Convenient magic.

            As far as DM/DE goes, no one knows which part of the theory may “change” to account for it.

            From what I understand, there are currently two major holes in BBT. First, there isn’t enough accountable matter to hold shit together and second, the expansion is accelerating.

            These holes may get filled by simple additions to the current theory OR they may need to scrap the entire thing and start over. THAT’S why I love science. The geniuses of today may turn out to be the goats of tomorrow.

            Remember when people thought the sun moved around the earth? HAHAHAHAHAHA! Watch your back Einstein.

            1. All of science is really no better than best guesses at how reality works. IMO, reality is so far beyond human comprehension that nobody will ever know for sure how it all works. The best we’ll ever get is close enough to come up with fancy new gadgets. And I’m ok with that. Sure people should keep eating at it trying to learn new things, but nobody should ever claim they have it figured out.

              1. No, it’s more than that. It’s verifying guesses experimentally, then correcting or discarding them if experiment doesn’t comport with the guess.

                1. Just because an experiment confirms a guess doesn’t make it not a guess. As you say, someone can come along later with a new guess that then takes the place of the original guess. And so on forever. The scientific method is just methodical guessing. Many guesses are just good enough to allow us to do some neat, but insignificant in the grand scheme of things, things. Is it cool that we have airplanes if teleportation is possible?

                  1. Teleportation doesn’t change any of the basic science of powered flight.

                    And the principle of correspondence holds for new “guesses”; they have to explain something new AND still contain the explanation from the old “guess.” For example, in the limit of large size, QM has to reduce to Newtonian physics. Ditto SR in the limit of low speeds.

                    1. And the principle of correspondence holds for new “guesses”; they have to explain something new AND still contain the explanation from the old “guess.” For example, in the limit of large size, QM has to reduce to Newtonian physics. Ditto SR in the limit of low speeds.

                      Forget where I heard it, but I once heard modern science described as ‘our general confusion, constantly elevated to new heights of sophistication.’

                    2. My question was more philosophical than scientific (as much as they can be separated). Of course it’s cool that humans have learned to zip about in pressurized metal tubes. Our guessing has been good enough along those lines to even get us outside the bounds of our atmosphere. But if teleportation is possible, flying around in machines is an absurdly archaic mode of travel. Human science can only ever be as good as the guesses humans are capable of making.

                    3. I don’t have a problem calling research “guessing”, but I would add the qualifier “educated”. In the sense that we seek out, find, and use clues to guide our new ideas in the right direction. To me, just saying “guessing” implies sort of wild conjecture. I guess there is some of that, too, but it’s a smallish component.

          2. The cheat, if you want to think of it as that, is calculating the speed of motion of matter in 3-space (+ time or i*c*t axis), while figuring its position in 4-space (+ time). That’s how you get all the sci-fi scenarios of taking shortcuts (timewise) via the 4th dimension while not breaking special relativity in 3 dimensions.

        2. 2. My problem now is that if there is a steady state universe, how does one account for the observed expansion?

          I don’t think the authors are arguing for a steady state universe. They agree that the universe is expanding and was much smaller and hotter in the past. They just don’t think the universe was ever a singularity. That’s my understanding based on the LiveScience article… such as it is.

    2. J: Although I did not include it my post, the two researchers suggest that their model makes possibly testable predictions with regard to the distribution of dark matter.

      1. Well, lets find out then.

        1. It’s probably going to be in the last place they look.

          1. It always is. ALWAYS, amirite?

          2. BTW, I like your handle.

      2. Oops. SHould have read farther down.

    3. the big band theory, the Big Ban Theory

      These gotta be on purpose, man. Gold!

      1. Benny goodman created the universe?

        1. So, you’re saying it’s all just a string of pearls ridin’ the A Train on a sentimental journey. I get misty just thinking about it.

    4. “…big band theory…”

      Is that the theory developed by Glenn Miller?


        /Prince of Canada

    5. interesting though is the back round radiation would be the same wether it is a steady state universe or started from a single point.

    6. The James Webb Telescope will be able to test a lot of these theories via infra-red views.…..PCjJCzlwxJ

      Q: Why is it important to look at the universe in the infrared?

      Paul: Observing in the infrared is important for a few reasons. One reason is because the ultraviolet and visible light emitted by the very first luminous objects that formed in the universe when it was young has been stretched by the expansion of the universe so that it reaches us today, over 13 billion years later, as infrared light. Webb will be looking for the first visible light.

      Another reason is because stars and planets form in clouds of gas and dust, and this dust obscures our view. Infrared light penetrates these clouds and allows us to see inside.

      It is not clear how the universe transformed from a simpler state of nothing but hydrogen and helium to the universe we see today, but the Webb telescope will see distant reaches of space and an epoch of time never observed before and help us answer these important questions.

    7. “big band theory” Lawrence Welk concurs

      “Big Ban Theory” progressives everywhere concur

      (sry, couldn’t help self)

      1. Damn it. Refresh and scroll. Refresh and scroll.

  9. “Our theory suggests that the age of the universe could be infinite,”

    Like I wasn’t already feeling absurdly small and inconsequential.

    1. This’ll finish you off:…..ive_Vortex

    2. Nah, it’s infinite but definitely all leading up to me. I mean, I am the literal center of it and the purpose of it. Trust me. As the purpose of the universe I know these things.

      Also, you should give me 10% of your income so I can let other people know.

      1. Obama? Is that you?

  10. the age of the universe could be infinite

    Does that contradict the Big Bang Theory? According to which, 13.8 billion years ago the matter in the universe was all in a singularity. What happened before that is an open question. A contracting universe? A trigger from a different or earlier universe? Steady state as a singularity for a period?

    1. No contradiction at all. Our best mathematical theories cannot say what happened prior to 13.8 billion years ago.

  11. Ok, so, NOW the science is settled and the debate is over. Whew!

    1. Now we must round up the Big Bang Denier Deniers. Or the Steady State Deniers. Or something. I’m not sure, but there has to be people silenced, rounded up and imprisoned or “re-educated” or it’s not good Progressivism!

      1. can I deny that denial exists?

        1. DENIED!

  12. “Our theory suggests that the age of the universe could be infinite,”

    That’s the way I look at it. Something doesn’t come from nothing.

    Creationists believe some higher power that always existed created the universe out of nothing.

    I find it easier to believe that the matter and energy that comprises the universe always existed.

    Why not?

    1. God and the universe are effectively one and the same. Even if you say God created the universe, that of course begs the question “what created God?”. If you say “God has always been here”, then you are really saying “existence” has always been here which is the same thing as saying the universe has always been here.

      A stable and infinitely old universe doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of God. At most it tells you that God and the Universe are not separate things.

      1. Just because you take a theist view of things doesn’t mean there aren’t Christians out there who honestly believe that God created the universe six thousand years ago, dinosaur bones and all. I know because that’s what I was raised to believe. My mother still believes it. So go ahead and lecture me on how I am wrong and that my mother and others don’t really believe that. Whatever.

        1. I had a long debate with a Christian apologist in an airport bar who took those positions. His arguments all boiled down to people have logic, therefore God created everything. He would not admit that was a huge non-sequitor. I like John’s approach better, though it’s a bit deist and could as an outcome have a god that is everything (therefore nothing).

          1. That is pretty much exactly what Descartes says and people think he was a genius.

              1. Well rene aint a girl. (what’s the past tense of aint?)

                1. twern’t

            1. Bah! Rene Descartes was drunken fart who was very rarely stable!

              1. But was he as sloshed as Schlegel?

          2. I like John’s approach better, though it’s a bit deist and could as an outcome have a god that is everything (therefore nothing)



            At least John’s approach attempts to take the physics/real world observation into account. Unlike others (here?) that disregard reality to appease the myth.

          3. God being everything doesn’t mean God is nothing. It means God is what he has to be, something utterly different in kind than we are. God is by definition incomprehensible. A finite being cannot fully comprehend an infinite all knowing one.

            Think of it this way. We never fully comprehend the universe. We only get bits and pieces of it through our senses and rationality. Saying God created the universe, is also saying God is existence. We can no more understand God than we can existence itself. We only get little pieces of it broken down and put into our senses and mind in ways we can understand.

            1. Now THAT sounds just like Descartes. That was a pretty good paraphrase, John.

              1. Decartes with some Kant thrown in.

                1. I just read Meditations on First Philosophy a couple weeks ago. That could be substituted into, I believe, chapter five without changing much. I haven’t read enough Kant to pick up any influence there.

      2. Interestingly, Stephen Hawking no longer supports the Big Bang Theory. In the movie, the Theory of Everything, there is a scene where he and his wife have a contentious discussion about the existence of God based upon his inability to find a unifying equation.

        Hawkins was unable to unify Quantum Theory and the Theory of Relativity (which can be used to support A Beginning & the existence of God). He concluded the reason there was not a unifying theory was that the concept of the beginning of time is, therefore, irrational and the existence of God is therefore irrational.

        1. Yeah, but this doesn’t allow for the Babel Fish.

          1. Funny guy. Watched Hitchhiker’s about 30 years ago. About forgot about that guy.

        2. The problem is that he concludes that anything beyond human comprehension is irrational and therefore cannot exist.

          That is nonsense. Hawking is a smart guy and a good physicist. He is, however, a lousy philosopher. We are prisoners to our limited senses and reasoning ability. It may be that those are all encompassing such that there is nothing beyond them. I, however, seriously doubt that. And given our utter inability to comprehend or do anything but describe interactions at the quantum level, I think it is almost certainly not the case.

          If our mechanical understanding of causality at the macro level means nothing at the quantum level. That seems to be pretty strong evidence that our senses, including our sense of time and space are not reality but how our limited minds make sense of reality.

          1. Because we have limited knowledge based upon limited amount of observations (particularly about the universe) and conceptual knowledge integrating these observations, does not logically lead to to the acceptance of God. The concept of God and religion, in the end, is based upon acceptance of authority which undercuts mans only means to understand and gain knowledge. That is why rational men should reject the concept of God.

            I really don’t know that much about Hawking other than the movie and my reading of the book by his ex-wife upon which the movie is made. I’ll take your word for your evaluation of his abilities as a philosopher.

            1. David Wall,

              It is not limited knowledge. It is a hard limit to our understanding. Our understanding of causality and basic logic goes out the window at the quantum level. Something as simple as “an object cannot travel between two points without traveling the space in between”, is not true at the quantum level. The idea that event have a cause and certain result isn’t true or even that something cannot be two different things at the same time.

              Watch the Feynman New Zealand lectures on QED and the strange theory of light sometime. It is fascinating stuff and about as confirmed via observation as anything can be, but it shows how the quantum world does not conform to our conceptions of time, logic or causality.

              Kant was wrong about a lot of things. He was, however, dead right about the black box of perception and temporarily. Humans don’t perceive reality as it is. Humans perceive tiny bits of reality broken down through time and our senses into information that is sensible to us. So the fact that a question like “what happened before time” makes no sense to us, means nothing one way or another.

              1. Hey John–I respect your background and all. You are one of the better posters in Reason’s comment section and I enjoy your posts. However, I have always been curious about your religiosity. IMHO, it just didn’t fit with your otherwise logical approach.

                I am also somewhat aware of the difficulties in explaining observation made in association with Quantum Theory. But just because quantum physicists observation are difficult to explain based upon our current concepts, does not mean the we should give up our reliance on our ability to observe and that what we observe does not exist. It is really all that man has to progress. It is an uncomfortable reality for some, but that is reality. There is no one out there looking out over us, we are on our own–we have our senses and our ability to reason for our survival. That’s it. Reality is really there whether we sense it correctly or integrate our senses correctly.

                1. Hi David,
                  Links for you to ponder…

                  Discovery of Quantum Vibrations in ‘Microtubules’ Inside Brain Neurons Supports Controversial Theory of Consciousness

                  Scientists propose existence and interaction of parallel worlds: Many Interacting Worlds theory challenges foundations of quantum science

                  We may not be as alone as it may appear at a casual glance… I don’t know, but we can not conclusively exclude some very strange possibilities…

          2. I think this is about right. I find it disturbing to use our precepts of logic to think about things like the origin of the universe. It assumes something completely unproven (that our system of logical inference is the system employed by the universe). Why should we believe that our logic is that by which the universe operates? Hell, we can’t even agree on what the right logical precepts are. Are there fuzzy states? Quantum considerations? More than two truth values? It’s absurd!

      3. God and the universe are effectively one and the same.

        William of Occam refutes your claim in favor of a much simpler explanation composed of four poorly understood forces across two theories that are poorly reconciled with reality and/or each other and which may or may not include a multiverse…

        All of knowledge and perception is only knowable through rigorous methodical reductionism. Facts can’t be intrinsically known but categorically verified. That is how we plainly arrive at the notion that Dark Matter does exist and God cannot.

        1. All of knowledge and perception is only knowable through rigorous methodical reductionism.

          Which is absurd. The entire field of quantum mechanics is beyond our perception. We will never perceive an atom or a sub atomic particle. We can only deduce it is there based on experiments. That is not perception.

          More importantly, our perception no matter how confirmed, is not and can never be anything but a qualified guess, because we won’t know it is wrong until we do. Hume pretty much destroyed Occum and a most of the rest of Western philosophy. Everything after Hume is just pretending he didn’t happen or crying about what he did.

          1. Which is absurd.

            Of course it’s absurd. That doesn’t stop a consensus from believing it.

    2. We know that stars eventually, run out of fuel.
      How can the age of the universe, be infinite?

      1. I never claimed to have all the answers. I just find it easier to believe that that which I can see and touch always existed, rather than being created six thousand years ago by an invisible man who always existed.

          1. “The Last Question” is utterly awesome, and I have thought it to be utterly awesome, every since I first read it in 5th grade… I even read it aloud for my 5th grade class, most of who were bored with it by the time I got to that awesome, ending punch line…

      2. Depends on a number of equations to which there is no definitive answer. But one of the possibilities is the “heat death” of the universe whereby every star runs out of fuel but the energy does not allow for a collapse back into a singularity:…..e_universe

        1. Bigger list of ideas:…..e_universe

          1. Yeah, I’ve seen that. I start reading that stuff sometimes but it just blows my mind. I’m not sure that anyone really “understands” it. I think you can explain it mathematically, etc. but to conceptualize seems to be beyond human intellectual capabilities. Or maybe I’m just not smart enough.

            1. In some sense, it is possible to conceptualize. However, you also run into the same problem as when you try to think about death. You destroy the idea of non-existence by thinking about it.

      3. First, the universe doesn’t need stars to exist. Second, that matter doesn’t get destroyed, just changed. New stars are made in nebula all the time.

        1. Best 3D printer ever

        2. If the universe cannot be observed, does it exist any more?

          One of the predictions beyond heat death is expansion of space to the point where the fundamental forces lose hold, matter cannot exist, and even electromagnetism no longer functions because any light (for example) emission would never reach another particle. 100 trillion years, so get your affairs in order.

          1. I’ll be around. Please see earlier comment about me being the purpose of the universe.

      4. More importantly, where will new protons come from?

      5. We know that stars eventually, run out of fuel. How can the age of the universe, be infinite?

        … and in doing so, they ultimately “decompose” into the building blocks of new stars, thus keeping the universe intact… ?

  13. Or there is another reason for why everything seems to be moving away from us.

    Like the Earth has cosmic BO or something.

    1. Andromeda is blueshifted. It must be from Europe. QED.

    2. It is the home to Warty, and countless others that might be cause for staying away.

  14. O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
    Of the endless trains of the faithless?of cities fill’d with the foolish;
    Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
    Of eyes that vainly crave the light?of the objects mean?of the struggle ever renew’d;
    Of the poor results of all?of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
    Of the empty and useless years of the rest?with the rest me intertwined;
    The question, O me! so sad, recurring?What good amid these, O me, O life?


    That you are here?that life exists, and identity;
    That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

    1. There was a young man from Nantucket…

      1. Who sat his fat ass in a bucket…

        1. Old Mother Hubbard,
          Went to the cupboard,
          to fetch her old doggie a bone.
          But when she got there,
          Rover took over,
          And gave her a bone of his own!

          1. But when she bent over
            Rover took over

          2. + Andrew Dice Clay

  15. For *real* cosmology fun, check out the vacuum catastrophe.

    The statement “the universe consists of exactly one elementary particle” is closer to being true, by at least ten orders of magnitude ….

    1. Wrote a paper on that one in college. Mind blower.

  16. Neither being nor non-being was as yet. What was concealed? And where? And in whose protection??Who really knows? Who can declare it? Whence was it born, and whence came this creation? The devas (demigods) were born later than this world’s creation, so who knows from where it came into existence? None can know from where creation has arisen, and whether he has or has not produced it. He who surveys it in the highest heavens, he alone knows-or perhaps does not know.” (Rig Veda 10. 129)

    If we have to be suspicious of the Big Bang due to the deeply held religious beliefs of Lematire, we have to be equally suspicious of Dr. Das’s theory “conforming” to his probable Dharmic religious beliefs.

    Jus’ sayin’

  17. **** OT Alert? OT Alert? OT Alert? Off Topic?

    I dunno about that them thar Big Bang? Maybe we could get the POLITICIANS to chime in!!! They are experts on EVERYTHING!!!

    Here is an example of an expert politician? Recent event?…..low-camera
    Anti-abortion lawmaker gets anatomy lesson ? women cannot swallow camera for exam
    Idaho representative Vito Barbieri asks if a woman can swallow a camera for remote gynecological exam before medical abortion ? the answer is no

    I have always wondered, ever since grade school? If babies come from Mommy’s tummy, how come they do not get digested by Mommy’s stomach acids? Maybe Vito Barbieri can explain?

    1. Never fear, Reasoids dear! Science Politician is here!

      I am typing this with one hand, cell phone in the other hand, as I am chatting with Idaho representative Vito Barbieri right now. He is explaining the Big Bang to me, PLUS he is explaining why some babies don’t get digested in Mommy’s tummy, but other do, via God-driven or “natural” abortions. Give me some time? As soon as he is done ‘splainin’ all to me, all will in turn be revealed to you here?

      1. OK, here’s the low-down from my good butt-buddy Vito (who is NOT a butt-buddy of Vice Prez Joe Biden):

        Big Bang was caused by God. No surprise there? Satan was co-creator, though, and when the Big Bang happened some 9 K years ago or so, Satan made the fossils, and the bio-chem relatedness of the plant and animal clans, and the embryonic development patterns, and the radioactive decay elements in the rocks, and the incoming patterns of ancient light emitted seemingly far-far away, and, for that matter, the tree-rings on the Garden of Eden, to make it ***APPEAR AS IF*** the newly-created world was MUCH older than it really is, to deceive us all, so that we will go to Hell for believing lies built into the fabric of the Very Universe.

        On, why do babies not get digested in Mommy’s tummy? Well, some do. If God examines the developing fertilized egg cell or blastocyst or fetus or what have you, at any stage of the development, and determines that the free will of the could-result baby has ABSOLUTELY ZERO chance of growing up to vote Republican, then God lowers the anti-digestion shield, and a “natural abortion” happens, and Mommy digests the baby.

        If there is SOME chance that baby will grow up to obey God’s Will and vote Republican, then God continues to shield the baby-to-be from digestive actions? And that’s when the abortionists sometimes come in, and thwart God’s Will!

        I am glad I finally found someone who could explain all of this to me?

        1. Remember kids, politicians should be in charge of healthcare. Because WHITE PRIVILEGE. Or something.

        2. It’s like the way on Lost, these people (except those who were in on it) were made to believe they’d survived an airliner wreck, and were knocked out & given a bit of retrograde amnesia, and a little bit of phony (and flawed) evidence planted to convince them of that. Shills told phony back stories, and props like an ostensibly old shipwreck were planted as well, antiqued appropriately. And someone named Desmond David Hume was put in an isolation chamber & made to believe that his operation of the machinery produced the results he saw. And the characters had been selected & had plastic surgery to make them resemble people in the outside world by their ostensible names who’d been killed in a real airliner crash.

        3. Goddamn. I haven’t laughed so hard in days.

  18. The answer is 42.

    1. Mike does it again

  19. This “theory” was devised by Belgian Roman Catholic priest Georges Lema?tre in the 1920s based on his interpretation of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The Big Bang looks suspiciously like it conforms to Catholic doctrine that asserts that the universe was creatio ex nihilo. The Big Bang theory seemed to be strongly confirmed when astronomer Edwin Hubble found in 1929 that the stars and galaxies are red-shifted which indicated that the universe was expanding. The Big Bang eventually became the “consensus” theory among cosmologists.

    Knowing the strong pro-Catholic biases in the sciences, it’s no wonder the theory has been accepted so uncritically.

    Come on. Whether it’s true or not, we’re not exactly talking about believing in a 6,000 year old universe, here. There’s plenty that is explained by the BBT; if it turns out there’s a better explanation that’s fine but it is unscientific and arrogant to tar a legitimate theory with valid predictions as part and parcel with superstition.

  20. Maybe it doesn’t always expand. Maybe it alternately expands and contracts like the big throbbing dick that it is.

    1. I can NOT work that way! Unless… Unless it is heavier than a duck! That’s it! Or maybe it is a throbbing duck… Now you’ve got me confused again!

    2. Maybe it doesn’t always expand. Maybe it alternately expands and contracts like the big throbbing dick that it is

      JB, have you been rading Cyborg’s acid and shroom stash?

      1. Shit I wish!

  21. Pop science drama queen froth.

    Do a search for “the two big bangs” and read judicious and informative Ethan Siegel on this topic at (For some Reason I cannot add the direct link – too many characters or something.) Quick summary from Siegel:

    “When cosmologists???that’s the sub-field of astrophysics dealing with the origin and evolution of the Universe???speak about the Big Bang, they mean one of two things:

    “1. The hot, dense, expanding state that our observable Universe emerged from, that expanded, slowed, cooled, and gave rise to elements, atoms, stars, molecules, planets, and eventually us.

    “2. The initial singularity that represents the birth of space and time.
    The only problem is, while these two explanations were interchangeable back in say, the 1960s, they no longer are.

    “The first explanation???the hot, dense, expanding state???still makes sense as ‘the Big Bang,’ but the second one no longer does. In fact, as far as the question of where space and time come from goes, there is still plenty of debate on all sides, and this recent paper [Ali and Das] that came out is simply another drop in the ocean of that debate: nothing more.”

    1. “KHAAAAAN!!!!!”

    2. My son called me at work to alert me… yes, we are dorks/nerds.

      1. My FB feed is going wild (many of my friends are fellow MIT alums) and multiple people have texted me already. This is some kind of Nerd Moment. Like the libertarian moment, except slightly more relevant and slightly shorter in duration.

        1. It’s the Nerd Singularity!!

    3. By Grabthar’s Hammer, by the Sons of Worvan, he shall be avenged.

      1. Explain… As you would to a child!

  22. New scientific models are not always accepted by the current community. To a degree, new models become accepted as the oldsters die off and the younger crowd grow up with the new models “always having been there”.

    Not saying this paper is right or wrong (I’m sure the math would be beyond me, basic quantum mechanics was pretty much my limit), but that its testable hypotheses will need to be tested.

    Happily this one probably doesn’t have any immediate political outcomes, so it can be patiently explored and allowed to develop or die as appropriate.

  23. The upshot? In the new formulation, there is no singularity, and the universe is infinitely old.


  24. What makes anyone so sure that the universe is even bound by time?

    1. Warty Hugeman might be able to opine on that to some degree…

  25. Spock has died.

    1. Long live Spock! May he live long and prosper!

  26. I know Ron will ridicule me (as well as others) but the BBT has always had its problems, along with GR and especially Quantum Theory. People constantly forget that ALL THREE INCLUDE THE WORD THEORY!

    Now, we often see scientists take observations that don’t agree with their theory and change their theory. That isnt how science is supposed to work. I keep having to state that no matter how many white fucking cows you see it only takes one brown cow. Now if you want to talk religion or sciency religion like AGW then whatever, just don’t claim to use the scientific method if you can’t accept one brown cow.

    As for an alternative I like the red-shift being answered not by expansion but by being on a wave in the ocean and seeing the other waves moving at an angle from you (except 3d in this case). That explains why not only is there red shift but why some are blushifted (the ones coming at us…quick shoot Andromeda’s dog).

    1. “General relativity” doesn’t include the word “theory”.

      So that f***s your little theory.

  27. Even worse, in even a large universe, there are probably an uncountably infinite number of places where the local space is the same as ours and every quantum state has been explored somewhere in this Universe.


    In an infinitely large universe, this is possible (arguably mandatory).

    In a simply really really large non-infinite universe — nope.

    Infinite does not mean “really really large”. Infinite means it never ends. Ever.

    1. Nin Princes of Amber…awesome books

  28. I’ve always had a soft spot for Bohmian mechanics.

  29. I get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I’ve been doing,,,,,,

  30. Bailey for the win. Does anyone else consistently get as many comments?

    I don’t have time to read over everything but I will add that i have never been a big fan of the Big Bang Theory. It plays too much into the human narrative that every story has a beginning and an end. Too much confirmation bias.

  31. “There are other problems brewing in physics ? namely, that the two most dominant theories, quantum mechanics and general relativity, can’t be reconciled.”

    Er, this is hardly something that has only just been noticed 🙂

  32. The same arguments that support evolution, when applied to the String Theory landscape, support the existence of God(s).

  33. With meat and cholesterol now being ok again, the entire climate kerfuffle, accepted economic theory where inefficiency is more efficient, and the really big questions admittedly still unanswered in cosmology, I think I’m not going to consider either the big bang theory or the infinitely old theory particularly worthy of consenting with whatever concensus emerges from that dark kitchen overflowing with bickering chefs we seem to have in place of science these days. That should probably not all be one sentence.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.