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Big Bang Project Ideas

  1. May 2, 2005 #1
    I was just wondering if anyone knew of good projects to display the big bang theory. I have read about one where you place dots on a balloon and then blow it up to show how the universe is expanding, I was hoping someone might have other ideas maybe with more pizazz. Thanks for any ideas.
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  3. May 2, 2005 #2


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    Well, the raison bread analogy (raisons separating from each other as the bread rises) is a yummier model (feeding your audience helps them remember better).

    Perhaps you could have a flashier display of what the Big Bang is NOT. For example, most people think the Big Bang was an explosion of stuff into empty space. If you popped the balloon (an attention getter), you could explain the debris flying in all directions is not what happened. The expansion of the balloon material itself is the key (a 2D representation of a 3D expansion). There is no inside/outside and no center/edge.
  4. May 2, 2005 #3


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    I think a lot of people would appreciate a display of the experimental basis of the Big Bang (photos of real observatories used to make the key discoveries) and history of the term (an opponent on a radio show), as opposed to the usual hackneyed textbook illustration.
  5. May 3, 2005 #4
    Thanks for your ideas. If anyone knows of any others they will be appreciated as well. also i was wondering what some good references people know of on the big bang (books, websites, magazines, etc.)
  6. May 4, 2005 #5


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    A belated welcome to Physics Forums jawmes!

    There is a vast amount of material on the big bang - books, websites (not sure about magazines), much of it very good. What level best suits you?

    This Cambridge Hot Big Bang Group website may be a good place to start. The WMAP website also has a good primer on the Big Bang. Although it's now rather showing its age, this book is one of the best popular accounts: Weinberg, Steven, The First Three Minutes, Bantam Books, 1977

    And a nice hyperphysics "one-pager".
  7. May 4, 2005 #6
    One idea could be to put a compound in a balloon that will produce gas. The balloon will expand after the inital reaction and this is simple a way of showing the idea without having to blow it up so you can talk and show a little knowledge of chemistry.

    A website I found quickly might help.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
  8. May 4, 2005 #7
    Once again thanks, and the websites you provided were all very helpful. In reply to Nereid, the level I am on is fairly low. I am just finishing up my senior year in high school and my first year in physics, and we didn't touch on the big bang except very briefly in freshman science.
  9. May 5, 2005 #8
    I think Brian Greene made a good example of the expanding universe in his book "Fabric of the cosmos"
    Same as the ballon one but instead of black dots he used glued pennies on the ballon. Because the black dots expand with the ballon and thats isn't how the universe expands. But with pennies they all remain the same size and the distance between the pennies expands with the ballon.
  10. May 6, 2005 #9


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    From another perspective, just about anything (scientific) on modern cosmology is also 'about' the Big Bang Theory. Why? Because there are - currently - really no serious alternatives! Ned Wright's Cosmology Tutorial is thus also a good reference on the BBT (and may be just about right for you jawmes).

    So, a word or three about those alternatives ...

    Fred Hoyle (and others) proposed a Steady State Theory (indeed, it was good ol' Fred who is credited with creating the term 'Big Bang' - ironically, he meant it disparagingly); it pretty much disappeared once serious study of the cosmic (background) (microwave) (radiation) - CMBR, or CMB, or ... - got under way. "Our Garth" is keenly awaiting the results of GPB, which will definitely rule his SCC in or our (SCC can trace it ancestry to Sir Fred, in a loose way).

    Alfvén, of plasma fame, kicked off 'plasma cosmology'; although its descendants have attracted a significant crackpot following (Hannes would turn in his grave if he could see the liberties some of these folk have taken with his work!) it has never got much traction, partly because of the enormous amount of re-explanation needed - essentially, much of astrophysics would have to be re-written, and proponents struggle with even as 'simple' an aspect as the Hubble redshift.

    Many specific aspects in the 'concordance model of cosmology' (a.k.a. the BBT) have been challenged, for a variety of reasons. For example, the hierarchical formation of structure is, some feel, inconsistent with the apparent lack of small galaxies, the rotation curves of spiral galaxies, and so on. None of these constitute an alternative to the BBT.

    And no accounting of alternatives would be complete without mention of 'the nutters' - cranks, pottery magicians, and others with wild ideas about the universe, nearly always without any significant attempt to quantify anything, let alone present any math!
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