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The Big Bang
"A Thing of Rags and Patches"

Looking out at the Universe at large, what we see is that all the distant galaxies appear to be running away from us in such a way that the farther away they appear to be from us, the faster they appear to be running away. Thus, at some fifteen billion light years from us, they would be receding at the speed of light. It is this so‑called “expansion” that imposes a border to our observable Universe because no message, whether electrical or gravitational, could be received from something receding at the speed of light. (Actually what we see is that the spectral lines of those distant galaxies are redshifted toward the low energy end of the spectrum, and that is usually taken to mean that those galaxies are going away. But the border is imposed on us by the redshift itself.) And if this apparent expansion rate could be doubled, the resulting border would be closer because those distant galaxies would reach the speed of light at only seven and a half billion light years away instead of fifteen.

           Now the simplest and most straightforward explanation for this apparent expansion is that long ago there was this great explosion which has been dubbed the Big Bang (you must have heard of it), and that that is why all the distant galaxies are seen to be running away. Now you must not suppose that this Big Bang model was invented out of whole cloth. It was not. Like the Steady State model that followed it, it was invented to explain this apparent expansion. But by now the old Steady State is dead, and the Big Bang is “a thing of rags and patches.”

The Death of the Early Big Bangs

The Big Bang models, in their early days, faced some very interesting problems. If the explosion had gone off at greater than the escape velocity, so that gravity could never have halted the expansion, then nothing in the Universe could ever have run into anything else in the Universe ever again. So we could never have gotten galaxies and stars out of it. (If a hand grenade explodes in mid-air, the pieces of the hand grenade do not run into each other.) But cosmological models which do not allow for galaxies and stars are considered to be flawed. So those old models have been laid to rest with headstones in the graveyard.

But even if the explosion had gone off at less than the escape velocity, it would still have been no better because then the Universe would long since have collapsed to what is known in the trade as the Big Crunch. So those models, too, have been laid to rest.

That left us with this problem: Why should this accidental explosion have gone off at just the escape velocity with such very tight constraints? This problem we patched with the anthropic principle. Since we know from quantum mechanics that there is no longer any talk of a Universe without an observer, and since we see no way to get observers without galaxies and stars, the explosion had to come out exactly at the escape velocity in order that we could be here to worry about it. It had to come out at the escape velocity in order that the Universe could exist at all.

On quite independent considerations, the early Big Bang models had another problem: Why is the Universe made of matter rather than half matter, and half antimatter? It had long been known that radiation cooling off to material particles cools off to 50 percent matter and 50 percent antimatter. And that when they find each other again, they disappear into radiation. So the problem is: How could the fireball, which was too hot to be anything but radiation, cool off to a preponderance of matter over antimatter, that is, to more protons than antiprotons and to more electrons than positrons?

This problem was patched with the X particles, which make matter into antimatter, and the anti‑X particles, which make antimatter into matter. Then, since the X particles decay more rapidly than the anti‑X particles, we are left with a preponderance of matter over antimatter. Splendid! But the anti‑X particles, which decay more slowly, decay to magnetic monopoles which we do not find. Too bad! That is known in the trade as the monopole problem. So then, how can we get rid of the monopoles?

The patch on this repair job is perhaps the most ingenious of all. We allow a little bubble on the side of the monopole Universe suddenly to inflate to the Universe which we see. In addition to leaving the monopoles behind, these inflationary models automatically yield a Universe expanding at the escape velocity; so we don't need the anthropic principle any more. Good! But that lands us in what is known in the trade as the dark matter problem. Most of the matter in the observable Universe would have to be something which we have never yet discovered, something invisible which responds only to gravity. Otherwise the predicted helium abundance would be wrong.

One of the early predictions of the Big Bang model was the cosmic abundance ratio of hydrogen to the two isotopes of helium, and to deuterium and lithium. This was long ago confirmed observationally, and was one of the strong arguments against the Steady State. But that early prediction would hold true only if not more than 10 percent of the matter in the observable Universe predicted by the inflationary models is ordinary matter out of which those substances could be made. Consequently, the inflationary models predict that some 90 percent of the matter in the observable Universe must respond only to gravity and not to nuclear forces or to any other forces such as electricity and magnetism which might allow us to detect it. Vera Rubin, among others, found that most of the dark matter is not in the visible portions of the galaxies, but in their halos.1 The question then is this: Why is the dark matter found in the halos of the galaxies and not in the galaxies themselves? Why doesn't it all fall in? (It should be noted here that this is a problem only for the Big Bang models. The Steady State models predict that most of the matter in the galactic halos should be ordinary matter blown out by the galactic winds.)2 That, as I see it, is where the patchwork now stands.

How Wrong Could We Be?

Just because the Big Bang still has problems doesn't mean that the Steady State is right. And just because the Steady State had problems doesn't mean that the Big Bang is right. The fact that we can think of only two models does not prove that one of them is right.

The Death of the Old Steady State

Back in the 50’s and 60’s, the Big Bang model faced a competing cosmological suggestion by Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle called the Steady State model. And it, too, can now be found in the graveyard along with the older Big Bang models. But unlike them, the Steady State died without descendants. The descendants of the old Big Bangs, though heavily patched, still live in the halls of academia. But the old Steady State succumbed, partly to the difficulty pointed out by Hoyle himself that it could not account for the cosmic abundance of the light elements.3 And partly it succumbed to Penzias and Wilson's discovery of the 3K microwave background radiation which was taken to be the proof of the Big Bang and the tombstone of the Steady State.

The Raisin Problem

The Big Bang models have been compared to a raisin pudding in the oven. And, as the pudding gets larger and larger, the raisins get lonelier and lonelier so that if you come too late for dinner, there may not be any raisins in your spoon. But the Steady State people suggested that, as the raisins get lonelier and lonelier, new raisins might spring up in between, so “it don't make no nevermind” how late you come for dinner, there might be five or six raisins to a spoon. Well, the Big Bang people didn't like that one bit, and asked, “Where did you get those new raisins?” And the Steady State people asked, “Where’d you get yours?”

Now I have problems with all these models. They don't have a raisin store. They all have the Universe coming out of nothing, and with no driving mechanism for the observed cosmological expansion. For the Big Bang models, the energy of the fireball explosion is simply thrown in. It is not predicted by the model.

The Raisin Store at 3rd and K (The Border)

So let's take a careful look at the border conditions in the light of relativity theory and quantum mechanics to see if we can come up with a new observational model. As mentioned earlier, the observable Universe has a border, some fifteen billion light years away, imposed on us by the redshift of the spectral lines of the apparently receding galaxies. (If the energy of the spectral lines is redshifted to zero, no messages, either electrical or gravitational, can be received by us.)

But what do we see near the border? We see that if the energy of the radiation approaches zero, so does the energy of the particles giving rise to that radiation. But we also know from Einstein's special theory of relativity in 1905, that if the energy goes to zero, the mass goes to zero. What we see as matter is just potential energy (E = m). Now, if the mass near the border approaches zero, there are two very interesting consequences.

First, it is well known that radiation going through a field of low mass particles will be so often picked up and re‑radiated that it would come out thermalized to 3K. And the amount of background radiation predicted by this model is what we actually measure, whereas the amount predicted by the Big Bang models is some two orders of magnitude too high.

The second consequence is that the particles themselves must recycle from the border. We know from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (1926), that the product of our uncertainty in a particle's position and our uncertainty in its momentum can never be less than Planck's constant over 2p. (Dx Dmv ³ h) But if the mass of the particles approaches zero, so does their momentum and our uncertainty in that momentum as well. (You can't have a very large uncertainty about a very small quantity.) Then, from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, our uncertainty in where the particles are must approach totality. The particles simply “tunnel” back in. 

           (You must remember that electrons and protons are not things like tables and chairs, and they do what things cannot do. They're like dollars in the bank. There's no “this one,” no “that one.” And when an electron goes from one energy level to another in an atom, it does not slide down the wall. It simply disappears from the one and reappears in the other, and the physicists have a name for it. It's called tunneling. If someone writes a check on a bank in Santa Barbara to a bank in Portland, no one goes down in a truck to get the money. It disappears in Santa Barbara and reappears in Portland. You must have noticed. Electrons and protons are like that.)

So the particles tunnel back in with all their negative entropy intact. And curiously enough this is required even of the Big Bang models. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle requires it. There can be no Maxwell's Demon, and there is no subjunctive clause in Heisenberg which allows you to say, “If I were at the border the particles would be fine.” The observer is always at the center of the observable Universe.

Lets Have a Look

Now you might ask, “Is there any observational evidence that the particles do recycle from the border?” Yes, there is. It has recently been determined that there are huge clouds of hydrogen in what were thought to be the voids between the great walls of galaxies.4 These clouds contain enough hydrogen to make all the known galaxies. Also the Hubble Space Telescope's measurements of the Lyman alpha forest (the hydrogen absorption lines) between the quasar 3C273 and ourselves, indicate that there are some nine to twelve hydrogen clouds between us and it.5 The Big Bang models have trouble explaining such clouds, whether of new hydrogen or of old hydrogen uncondensed to galaxies and stars in fifteen billion years.

You might also ask, “Does this new model have a driving mechanism for the observed cosmological expansion?” Yes, indeed it does. If the redshift of the stellar radiation caused by the cosmological expansion robs that radiation of its energy, then that robbed energy must drive the expansion. You can't get rid of energy any more than you can get it out of nothing. As the German physicist Rudolf Clausius said, “Die Energie der Welt bleibt konstant; die Entropie strebt einem Maximum zu.” (The energy of the Universe remains constant; the entropy [the scrambledness of the energy] strives to a maximum.) However, if the particles recycle from the border as hydrogen, and perhaps some helium, even the entropy may not go up.

May They Rest in Peace!

One of the problems of the early Big Bangs was that the explosion had no targets because the whole Universe was in the explosion. (Bombs are dangerous because the pieces run into the buildings.) Then we had the inflationary models that did have targets. But the inflationary models require that the grand unified theories (GUT) should succeed. That is, that it can be shown that the strong nuclear force (which I don’t think is a force at all) and the electroweak are aspects of a single force. The difficulty here is that the grand unified theories require that the protons should decay, and there is no evidence that they do. As H. M. Georgi says in The New Physics, “Experimental physicists have not seen evidence for proton decay, despite a heroic effort.” It appears that both the electrons and the protons are stable. But if the protons don't decay, the “grand unifieds” may, and if they decay, the patched Big Bang may go.

Now if our long‑cherished modern Big Bang joins its elders in the graveyard, alongside the old Steady State, will we have anyone left alive?



You might still ask, “Of what are the raisins made in your new model? And why are there raisins at all?”

All our old models have gone to the graveyard by suggesting Universes which could not possibly exist. Perhaps that is because non‑existence was the stuff out of which those Universes were made. Those models took non‑existence for granted. The Big Bang models got their fireballs out of nothing. I quote, “through random fluctuations in nothingness.” And the old Steady State model got its hydrogen out of nothing. That is known in this office as the raisin problem. “Aus Nichts wirt Nichts, das merke wohl.” (Out of nothing comes nothing, mark it well.) All our models have taken non‑existence for granted. But why?

So let us ask, “What remains if, on observational grounds, we take existence for granted instead, but leave out space and time?” Can we get a new cosmological model that does not end up in the graveyard? Can we get the Universe which we see?

If we take existence for granted, but ask what would remain in the absence of the Universe and in the absence of space and time, what is immediately obvious is that in the absence of time we would have the absence of change, and that in the absence of space we would have the absence of the divided and the finite. Is it the changeless that shows in our physics as inertia? (Matter fights every change in its state of motion.) And is it the infinite that shows in our physics as the electrical charge on the minuscule particles? (The electrical energy of the Universe would go to zero if, and only if, the size of the particles went to infinity. It’s in our physics as a number.) And is it the undivided that shows as gravity and the attraction between opposites like plus and minus charges, and spin‑up and spin‑down? (The gravitational energy of the Universe would go to zero if, and only if, the dividedness of the Universe went to zero.) As I see it, our raisins are made of gravity, electricity and inertia simply because the changeless, the infinite, the undivided must show through as what we see in space and time, like the length and diameter of a rope showing through in the snake for which it is mistaken. Is that why the particles are not things, and can recycle from the border?

         For the details of this new observational model please see “The Equations of Maya” reprinted here from Cosmic Beginnings and Human Ends, pages 259 to 287.

1995 Ashland


1.            Donald Goldsmith, “The Astronomers” (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991, pp 41‑44)

2.            John Dobson, “The Equations of Maya” in Cosmic Beginnings and Human Ends (Peru, Illinois: Open Court, 1995, p 280)

3.           Sir Fred Hoyle, The Intelligent Universe. (New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. 1983, p 175)

4.           Ron Cowen, “Detecting Gas Clouds in Cosmic Voids – Hydrogen Clouds Between Galaxies,” Science News (1995, July 1.) 148:9.

5.      Richard Talcott, "A Quasar Lights Up the Universe," Astronomy (1991 September)