"Big Bang" is a misnomer.


by Richard87
Tags: big bang, misnomer
Richard87
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Dec24-09, 10:10 AM
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And as a consequence of this misnomer, most non-cosmologists continue to picture it as a big explosion. Though they forget that explosions are destructive rather than creative. The Big Bang being an explosion just wouldn't make any sense. It wasn't an explosion.
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turbo
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Dec24-09, 10:16 AM
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Fred Hoyle used that term derisively when discussing the theory in an interview, and the popular media and the public picked it up.
DaveC426913
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Dec24-09, 10:39 AM
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But simply changing the name doesn't solve much. Laypeople will not be enlightened about physics from two-word sound bytes.

They should put physics primers at the checkout lines at grocery stores...

marcus
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Dec24-09, 12:41 PM
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"Big Bang" is a misnomer.


Quote Quote by Richard87 View Post
And as a consequence of this misnomer, most non-cosmologists continue to picture it as a big explosion. Though they forget that explosions are destructive rather than creative. The Big Bang being an explosion just wouldn't make any sense. It wasn't an explosion.
I think you are right, Richard. Words matter, and inevitably influence how we (as a species) think. This "big bang" misnomer is a kink in our language, like a sprain that eventually has to heal, or a cramp in a muscle that will eventually go away.

Language normally can't be reformed by fiat. But it does gradually change and problems gradually get massaged away or unravel.

One of the most hopeful developments is that the Bang image is now being challenged by the image of a big bounce. A bunch of models are increasingly studied where there is a prior contraction, leading to very high (but not infinite) density at which quantum effects cause gravity to briefly repel instead of continuing to attract.
These models apparently lead to slightly different predictions which hopefully will allow them to be tested---subtly different predictions about fine detail in the cosmic microwave background.
marcus
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Dec24-09, 12:47 PM
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If you want to get an idea of how our big bang concept is gradually morphing, which will eventually lead to a different image and different words, then the field of research to watch is called "quantum cosmology".

There is a professional journal data base called Spires that can do a keyword search and turn up all the recent quantum cosmology articles. If desired, Spires will rank them according to citation count---how often a given scholarly article has been cited as a reference in other research articles.

I have to go. I'll get the link to Spires later.


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