Why are we here? What’s the meaning of life? Where are we all heading to? Of course, these are all huge questions to ask. While many people look to faith and religion for answers, many also look towards science for physical evidence as to how our universe first began. The fact is, even decades on from intensive research into space and the very phenomenon of life itself, we still know so little about the vast expanse around us. Take a look below for 22 fun and interesting facts about the Bing Bang theory.
1. Of all scientific theories regarding the start of the universe, the Big Bang theory remains the most prevalent, and therefore may be the most prescribed-to. This is to such an extent that some creationist believers feel that the Big Bang may have been the creation of a higher power. However, it is still just a theory, as – obviously – no one was around to grab any evidence or to corroborate it for everyone else!
2. The Big Bang model has roots back in the 20th century, and we largely have Milton Humason and Edwin Hubble to thank. They proposed that, through ongoing research, galaxies they spied in the vast expanse of space actually seemed to be gradually drifting away from our own. The scientists proposed that the universe was constantly expanding, and that its inception, it would have been much smaller.
3. Humason and Hubble also believed that the origins of the universe were much hotter and much denser, too. This would lend towards a theory that would presume an explosion of sorts took place to disperse galaxies and bodies across space. This is the very basis of the Big Bang theory.
4. No one is really sure when the Big Bang may have happened, and therefore there are some schools of thought which differ regarding the actual age of the universe. It’s thought that the universe is likely to be at least 14 billion years old, with some scientists believing that it is slightly older, and with some erring on the side of younger. We’ve been able to learn more about the age of the universe thanks to advances in radiation imaging. This ties in nicely with the Big Bang theory in that scientists have been able to pinpoint an effective start or ‘bang’ point for the universe.
5. The Big Bang theory, when extended, also believes that all the forces we witness on Earth and in the universe at large right now will have all combined together to make one big super-force! For example, it’s proposed that forces such as nuclear, gravity and electromagnetism will have all been pieces of the same puzzle at the point of the universe exploding outwards.
6. But what came before the Big Bang? This again, no one is too sure about, but if we are to subscribe to the theory in full, we would assume that there would be nothing – just a black void. It’s quite hard to imagine, but pre-explosion, not even the smallest of molecules or atoms will have existed in the universe. The idea of there being absolutely nothing is difficult to imagine – so what caused the Big Bang in the first place? Naturally, we’re still fairly unsure on this, too!
7. However, we could look at this in a slightly different way. While we could safely assume that there was absolutely nothing in the universe or in existence at the point before the Big Bang, we could also propose that things were simply different before this point. Essentially, we could assume that pre-Big Bang, everything that exists now before 14 billion years ago was simply completely different to how we know it right now. Again, there is no way of knowing for sure. It is still just a theory.
8. Believe it or not, some of the most popular and revered theorists and scientists have, invariably, refuted the Big Bang theory over the years. Amongst them, surprisingly, was Albert Einstein. Einstein did not subscribe to the theory at all when presented with the concept, despite the fact that he helped to build a clear idea of how matter operates in the wider universe. When Georges Lemaitre first approached Einstein with workings on the Big Bang theory, Einstein responded directly with ‘your calculations are correct, but your physics are abominable’.
9. Anyone who believes that there is no such evidence available for the Big Bang may be surprised to hear that we have been able to piece together available data from cosmic microwaves, which were analysed around the 1960s. It is these cosmic waves which have helped researchers and scientists learn more about how the universe may have changed over time.
10. There have been multiple theories put forward about the start of the universe again and again over the decades, however, more often than not, they add onto and into the Big Bang theory. That’s how popular and how powerful this simple theory is – it’s been used as the blueprint for theories all the way back to the start of the 20th century, long before we were even able to come up with much in the way of evidence to back it up!
11. The theory goes into incredible detail. One of the key takeaways from the Big Bang theory is that radiation throughout the universe is not uniform and will therefore vary across the millions of miles. This was thought to be part of the assumptive theory until evidence actually emerged in the early 1990s to show that irregularities in radiation were in fact clear to spot through simple exploration. It’s safe to say that advances in technology have been helping to build on the theory, and to help cement its status, for decades and decades.
12. In fact, it’s said that we can use these irregularities to actually better detail how old the universe is, and what its exact nature may have been when the Big Bang first took place. These irregularities may also be used to tell us the exact nature of the radiation’s uniformity at the time of the explosion, meaning that we can actively pinpoint when irregularities started to emerge throughout the universe. This is all very fascinating stuff which can get pretty involved if you look deeply enough into it!
13. The Big Bang theory, as stated, is likely to be the marker for all universe theories as we know them today. However, that’s not to say that scientists are treating it as the be all and end all. In fact, it’s used as a foundation, or template, to look closely into more theories and to better develop our understanding of the big, impossible void around us.
14. There have, for example, been multiple theories and suggestions put forward which could explain the origins of the universe in different ways, still using the Bang as a template of sorts. For example, some believe that a Big Bounce was more likely. What’s more, Professor Stephen Hawking proposed that such a reaction as the Big Crunch would arise at some point in future, as the opposite reaction to the Big Bang, should it be true. This led to all manner of theories abound that time, and life itself, would start running backwards. However, the theory is a little more in depth and precise than that!
15. Bizarrely, some believe that the Big Bang may not refer to the active start point of the universe anymore. The very idea that there was nothing before the event has proven confusing for many scientists and theorists. So much so, that some researchers believe that there will have been a very different state of energy in the universe altogether prior to the Big Bang taking place. This means that we may have seen something more akin to cosmic inflation, rather than an active explosion of the universe out of nothingness – quite literally. This means that, as time goes by, scientists may continue to keep rolling things back until we simply can’t go any further back in time. Research will likely never cease into the phenomenon, though it’s fascinating to think that this simple theory still holds so much weight and so much purpose in the modern age.
16. The Big Bang is sometimes referred to, in its expanded form, as Hubble’s Law, named after one of the original theorists. Hubble believed that an object’s distance away from the Milky Way was relative to speed, meaning that farther objects appeared to be moving quicker. It is a rather simple proposal, at least compared to some of the more outlandish and in-depth theories out there, and it even led to a major telescope being named after Hubble in the years to come.
17. Many scientists and researchers have used the basic Big Bang model to help explain how stars and planets form and behave in general. This is because the initial proposition that things start off hot and dense before exploding outwards can be applied to a near endless array of celestial bodies and stars out there in the wider, unknown universe.
18. Many people studying the Big Bang actually prefer to not think of it as the very beginning of matter as we know it. Rather, many people believe that it is a great theory which clearly shows how states change. However, it will still likely give us plenty of food for thought as to how things may have begun, especially as we really don’t have any other concretes ideas or evidence to suggest otherwise. Sadly, we may never really know the truth.
19. It took some time for people – even those who didn’t believe in creationism – to warm to the theory. It was thought that when the initial proposal was made, it was widely discredited for many years. A great example of this is Einstein’s rebuttal listed above, though he was not alone in his feelings about the theory.
20. Believe it or not, bird poop seems to have a firm place in studying the theory. That is, it seems that the leftover glow or noise from the Big Bang may have been evident in bird mess on an antenna. Specifically, this phenomenon arose when Bob Wilson and Arno Penzias were trying to study the skies but found a uniform signal coming from just about everywhere. This was as a result of there being bird mess on their external antenna. Strange but true!
21. Believe it or not, the science surrounding the origins of the universe may have started with a Catholic priest. It was the early work of Georges Lemaitre which led to theories of relativity becoming commonplace, and therefore, his initial studies have a firm place in helping to form much of the Big Bang theoretics as we know them to this day.
22. Believe it or not, the solar system actually came around much later than the Big Bang actually took place. It’s thought that our system came into being around 9 billion years after the Big Bang took place. Therefore, we really are newcomers to this game we call life!