What Was the Big Bang?

We are privileged to be part of the first generation who can claim to have a respectable, rational, and coherent description for the creation and evolution of the universe. The Big Bang model offers an elegant explanation of the origin of everything we see in the night sky, making it one of the greatest achievements of the human intellect and spirit. It is the consequence of an insatiable curiosity, a fabulous imagination, acute observation and ruthless logic.
Even more wonderful is that the Big Bang model can be understood by everyone.

- Simon Singh, Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe (2004)

Podcast of the Day

Melvyn Bragg examines the history of what we know about the origins of the universe. Some four hundred years ago in Rome, one Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for his belief in other inhabited worlds - it’s a possibility which has fascinated scientists, writers, artists and the general public for centuries - and any consideration of the origins of life and matter on other planets, and indeed this one, inevitably raises huge questions. Do other worlds exist? How did our planet come into existence? How can we know anything at all about the origins of life and matter so many billions of years ago, and how has our thinking on these - amongst the deepest of questions - changed over the 20th century? Are we any closer to knowing whether other worlds exist and how our own planet came into being? And does the knowledge we have about these things change our perception of ourselves and our position in the universe?

Listen to the In Our Time episode on The Universe's Origins

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

The Big Bang Theory is the leading explanation about how the universe began. At its simplest, it says the universe as we know it started with a small singularity, then inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos that we know today.

Because current instruments don't allow astronomers to peer back at the universe's birth, much of what we understand about the Big Bang Theory comes from mathematical formulas and models. Astronomers can, however, see the "echo" of the expansion through a phenomenon known as the cosmic microwave background.

While the majority of the astronomical community accepts the theory, there are some theorists who have alternative explanations besides the Big Bang — such as eternal inflation or an oscillating universe...

Continue reading Elizabeth Howell's article: What Is the Big Bang Theory?

Further Reading

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state, and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), large scale structure and Hubble's law. If the known laws of physics are extrapolated to the highest density regime, the result is a singularity which is typically associated with the Big Bang. Physicists are undecided whether this means the universe began from a singularity, or that current knowledge is insufficient to describe the universe at that time. Detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe place the Big Bang at around 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe. After the initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms. Giant clouds of these primordial elements later coalesced through gravity in halos of dark matter, eventually forming the stars and galaxies visible today...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on The Big Bang

Bonus Webcomic

Related Topics

 Entropy | Existence | Laws of Nature | The Multiverse | Quantum Mechanics

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