Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How fringe are alternatives to the Big Bang Theory?

  1. Dec 9, 2011 #1
    To my understanding, The Big Bang Theory (BBT) is considered the standard, mainstream theory explaining the origin of the universe. I know that there are alternative theories, and my question is, how discredited, fringe, or false are these theories considered, if at all? Alternatively, how secure is BBT's position as the mainstream, standard theory? Are proponents of other theories considered nuts, outdated, or mainstream? How many physicists are out there who think BBT is either completely wrong or in need of some serious modifications?

    This is really more of a sociological question than a scientific one. I'm not looking to debate BBT or its alternatives, as I'm unqualified to do so.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2011 #2

    Nabeshin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    To understand (or ask) this question, it is first necessary to clarify what is meant by the BBT. Scientists typically mean by this that the universe was hotter and more dense in the past, and we can explain the story up to ~10^-30s after the big bang (whatever that means). I don't think any serious cosmologist would disagree with this picture, and I think the last major opposition to this was the Steady State theory which died in the 60's with the discovery of the cosmic microwave backround radiation. So in this sense, the BBT is quite iron clad.

    As far as what happened before that 10^-30s, and what the 'big bang' actually means, the jury is definitely still out on that one. Certain ideas might seem more wacky than others, but as far as I know there have been few testable predictions from that regime, so it's hard to make any kind of selection between any models.
     
  4. Dec 9, 2011 #3
    OK, thanks for the explanation. From your answer I gather that theories that hypothesize different scenarios for what happened after the first 10-30 seconds are very much fringe.
     
  5. Dec 9, 2011 #4

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes. As said, essentially no serious cosmologist has much doubt about that.
     
  6. Dec 9, 2011 #5

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    BBT generates discomfort because it implies a 'creation' event.
     
  7. Dec 10, 2011 #6
    'creation event' generates discomfort because it implies an intelligently deliberate creator, but it really does not imply that at all. Creation event just means that point from which we measure 10^-30 secs from. It does imply some sort of cause though but it's not something we can ever know anything about.

    As well as the CMBr it was the discovery that the universe looks very different the farther back we look in time, which is not what the SST predicts. We don't see quasars in the local cluster of galaxies.
     
  8. Dec 10, 2011 #7

    Chalnoth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This isn't correct. The big bang theory describes how the universe has changed over time. While there is a beginning in the theory, that beginning is mathematical nonsense that cannot possibly describe reality.

    Here's a really good essay on what the BBT is, and what the evidence for it is:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html
     
  9. Dec 10, 2011 #8
    Thanks for clarifying. If I understand correctly, this is a restatement of the fact that it's unclear what happened in the first 10-30 seconds, but the rest of the story is quite well-established.

    Thank you all for your answers.
     
  10. Dec 10, 2011 #9

    Chalnoth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This is largely correct. However, it is becoming more clear all the time what happened in that first fraction of a second.
     
  11. Dec 11, 2011 #10

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Until we have a working theory of quantum gravity, understanding the very early universe is beyond our grasp.
     
  12. Dec 11, 2011 #11

    Chalnoth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Maybe. Not necessarily. It all depends upon the details.
     
  13. Dec 11, 2011 #12

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I find it quite amazing that you can predict what science will or will not be capable of the day after tomorrow.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: How fringe are alternatives to the Big Bang Theory?
Loading...