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Positing the Big Bang as a definitive theory .

  1. Feb 11, 2013 #1
    Positing the Big Bang as a "definitive theory".

    What is the best way to go about countering the supposition that since the Big Bang used to be competing with other models to explain the origin of the Universe, that the Big Bang itself is like a placeholder of our era, as malleable and subject to fall down as any previous model, and that it can be just as easily discarded in the future?

    The assumption is super ignorant about the development of our cosmology and it drives me up the wall, really... but when they can apparently support their view by pointing at how our historical understanding of the universe has kept changing, I'm not sure about the best way to counter it other than by pointing to the evidence that invalidate other models just as much as they point towards the Big Bang.
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  3. Feb 11, 2013 #2
    Re: Positing the Big Bang as a "definitive theory".

    Well for one thing the Big Bang is a model that describes the inflationary eras. So in that regard was never intended as "This is the beginning. "

    The model evolves as research and studies improve. As such also has a huge body of supportive evidence. I once also thought much the same way as you do now. However after reading several books and countless articles. Did I truly understand the amount of effort went into both supporting and countering the B B model.

    Any model is constantly challenged thats the way science works.
  4. Feb 11, 2013 #3


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    Re: Positing the Big Bang as a "definitive theory".

    ALL theories in physics are just placeholders in the sense you mean. They are all subject to falsification and/or replacement with a more refined theory. If it were not so, they would not be scientific theories.

    Do keep in mind that any theory that modifies or replaces the BB theory will have to account for all of the things that it accounts for (and that's a LOT) just as Einstein's Theory of General Relativity had to account for the great accuracy of Newton's Law of Gravity (at small scales)

    EDIT: you should also point out to them that it is NOT so much that theories keep changing as it is that they keep getting refined. Newton's Law of Gravity, for example, was a TERRIFIC discovery and is still used for engineering on human scales, but it is totally wrong if you want to get technical about it and have been replaced by the Theory of General Relativity. Also, not all theories of cosmology HAVE been discareded. There are still alternatative theories to the BB. See "multiverse" for example.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  5. Feb 11, 2013 #4
    Re: Positing the Big Bang as a "definitive theory".

    Depends how literal you want to be. For example, there is a lot more evidence supporting the BB model than there is the Plate sitting on Two Turtles model or the standard Steady State model. This makes it less subject to fall down than previous models and less easy to discard. However, as others have said, in the Great Scheme of Things, given a Better Model it can be as rudely discarded as phlogiston or absolute space-time were.

    No, it's not super ignorant - it's quite plausible based on historical interpolation. I'm afraid you don't seem to have much choice other than to show BB is a better explanation, at the moment, of the observational evidence than a number of alternative models. Note that we don't even have to have an alternative theory if some observations turn up that are incompatible with the Big Bang.

    Who's "they", BTW? Just because you may disagree with the "their" philosophy, don't get suckered into making claims beyond that which can be supported by the evidence or automatically thinking everything "they" say is wrong.
  6. Feb 11, 2013 #5


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    Re: Positing the Big Bang as a "definitive theory".

    To ad nauseum, BBT is the prevailing model - and that is because it was drawn from observational evidence, not philosophical beauty. When a better model comes along - and it will, IMO - it too will be driven by observational evidence. Until then, I intend to sit back and watch the drama [which is what all scientists do].
  7. Feb 11, 2013 #6
    Re: Positing the Big Bang as a "definitive theory".

    OP here!

    (question for anyone) When it comes to the Big Bang and the development of the universe from its early stages. Do you have objections against the idea that the very general basis of our cosmological understanding is well framed and we shouldn't expect it to radically change?

    Haven't we just been refining our predominant model at this point ever since Big Bang won the wrestle? Sorry, it's just that I don't seem to understand how any subsequent refinement of the theory would merit a change in the name of the model.
  8. Feb 11, 2013 #7


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    Re: Positing the Big Bang as a "definitive theory".

    Competing theories appear almost daily. Check out arxiv for examples - you have string models, chaplygin gas models, fr models, and a number of other models. What none of them have is observational support that competes with the LCDM model. The LCDM model has, in fact, undergone significant evolution over the past decade. Besides, what is in a name? LCDM is merely a refinement of the orginial BB model.
  9. Feb 12, 2013 #8
    Re: Positing the Big Bang as a "definitive theory".

    Philosophically, yes, I do have objections. For example, our understanding of space and time was well framed by Newton, Lagrange, Hamilton, etc and I don't expect there was any great 19th Century expectation that it would radically change. Then that patent clerk went and upset Newton's Apple Cart. Now, the Newtonian system is a good approximation for mucking around in v<<c and low mass systems, but it is demonstrably a flawed model of reality.

    Uh huh, and I'm sure the maintainers of the geocentric epicyclic model of planetary motion felt the same way whenever they added a new epicycle to better explain their observations. And they were right, perfectly good name for it(*). Of course, they were wrong as well ...

    A lesson I learned long ago is that Reality feels no need to conform to either my expectations or my lack of imagination. Some time spent in the military also reinforced the lesson that all you can do is plan on the best interpretation of the available intel, but don't be too surprised if the plan becomes a casualty. :devil:


    Note: (*) Actually I've got no idea what the old astrologers / astronomers called it, but you get the idea hopefully.
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