The problem with the "Big Bang" .

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It would be most helpful and beneficial to the world of Physics if everybody would stop calling the Big Bang, the big bang. It is very misleading to the lay man (myself) and it does not do anything to promote the understanding of the universe. The very word suggests that something went "Bang" when if fact that is not even close to what really happened. The word also suggests that something happened at a certain place, when in fact it didn't. Why does the Physics community continue to promote such a word? I can understand a word like "expansion" where that makes much more sense. There just has to be a better word. I'm calling Neil deGrasse Tyson.....he stole Pluto, so maybe he can get everyone on board to stop using such a misleading word!!!!
 

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  • #2
Bystander
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You would prefer, perhaps, "t0," vocalized as "tee-nought?" Nomenclatures have lives of their own, and unfortunate connotations.
 
  • #3
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It would be most helpful and beneficial to the world of Physics if everybody would stop calling the Big Bang, the big bang. It is very misleading to the lay man (myself) and it does not do anything to promote the understanding of the universe. The very word suggests that something went "Bang" when if fact that is not even close to what really happened. The word also suggests that something happened at a certain place, when in fact it didn't. Why does the Physics community continue to promote such a word? I can understand a word like "expansion" where that makes much more sense. There just has to be a better word. I'm calling Neil deGrasse Tyson.....he stole Pluto, so maybe he can get everyone on board to stop using such a misleading word!!!!
Let's be honest. If someone cares that much about physics that s\he doesn't want to have the wrong idea about these things, s\he will ask experts(more or less!)about it and will find out what physicists actually mean.Like you did!
Physicsts themselves have no problem about it too, because they all know what they mean.
Now there only remains part of laymen who don't care that much to ask and learn about it. So...does it actually matter that they know what it really means? Why should we bother changing the terminology because of people who actually don't care about it?
 
  • #4
Bandersnatch
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I agree with the OP. If not for the unfortunate name, the cosmology section of PF would be half as voluminous.
Alas, by now it'd be even harder to get rid of than the relativistic mass.
 
  • #5
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You do all know that the name was coined by one of its detractors, right?
 
  • #6
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You do all know that the name was coined by one of its detractors, right?
I didn't know that but I don't think that's relevant any more. The name is now well established and physicists have no problem with it. Any try for modifying will make a division between physicists and only adds confusion. Like problem with the signature of the Minkowski metric!
 
  • #7
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The name is now well established and physicists have no problem with it. Any try for modifying will make a division between physicists and only adds confusion.
The community deemed Pluto as no longer being a planet. Lots of things had to be changed when that happened!!! I'm sure that renaming the BB would be so much easier. The problem as I see it, is the fact that it doesn't seem to bother enough people!!!

Funny thing is you could almost make an argument for PLUTO, but there is no reasonable argument to call what happened in the beginning "The Big Bang" considering that the word "big" is a "BIG" understatement and there was no "BANG" of any kind!!!!

I'm going with Colossal Expansion.....the CE theory!!!!
 
  • #8
Garth
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Vanadium 50 said:
You do all know that the name was coined by one of its detractors, right?
I didn't know that
Fred Hoyle was a hero of mine. From the BBC site about his work:
Sir Fred Hoyle FRS (24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001) was an English astronomer noted primarily for the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and his often controversial stances on other cosmological and scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the "Big Bang" theory, a term originally coined by him on BBC radio.
Garth
 
  • #9
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The community deemed Pluto as no longer being a planet. Lots of things had to be changed when that happened!!! I'm sure that renaming the BB would be so much easier. The problem as I see it, is the fact that it doesn't seem to bother enough people!!!

Funny thing is you could almost make an argument for PLUTO, but there is no reasonable argument to call what happened in the beginning "The Big Bang" considering that the word "big" is a "BIG" understatement and there was no "BANG" of any kind!!!!
Good that you raised these two different cases.

- "Big bang" is termed so for historical reasons, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. Else scientists would change terms such as "theory", because the society has narrowed the term, or "darwinism" which some biologists adhere to, because it is no longer considered a philosophy.

Re naming by detractors, we have famous examples such as big bang (from a steady state theorist), darwinism and naturalism (from theologians), and gays (from homophobes, I think). Use may have many reasons, including defanging bigots/sophists.

- Ceres was a planet for about as long as Pluto. Then it was discovered to be a member of the first debris belt out. And its category, not its name, was changed accordingly.

The same happened to Pluto when it was discovered to be a member of the second debris belt out. FWIW, I don't think Tyson was the "Pluto Thief" but the discoverer of the more massive Kuper Belt Object Eris, Mike Brown, was called/called himself the man who "killed Pluto" and later wrote the book "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming".

[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_E._Brown ]

Languages evolve, and so do scientific nomenclature. Some we can override (spelling reforms, categorizations), some we have to live with.
 
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  • #10
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It would be most helpful and beneficial to the world of Physics if everybody would stop calling the Big Bang, the big bang. It is very misleading to the lay man (myself) and it does not do anything to promote the understanding of the universe. The very word suggests that something went "Bang" when if fact that is not even close to what really happened.
The word "butterfly" suggests a fly which has something to do with butter. Does it need to be changed too? You cannot be serious! Terms don't need to be elf-explanatory and science doesn't need to be understandable for laymen.
 
  • #11
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This reminds me, Tyson once made a humorous jab at other (i.e., not astronomy) sciences, how they use arcane nomenclature where astronomy uses simple, one-syllable words (obviously a generalisation) like "big bang", "black hole", "dark matter". I thought then he had a point.

But now that I think about it, when was the last time somebody came to the chemistry forum with a misconception stemming from the name of uranium hexafluoride, or to the biology forum complaining about the name of Heterocephalus glaber or whatever?
 
  • #12
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like "big bang", "black hole", "dark matter".
Camelopardalis. Baryon Acoustic Oscillations. Primordial Nucleosynthesis.

Tyson can be funny, to be sure, but he's not quite as funny as he thinks he is.
 
  • #13
strangerep
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[...] when that happened!!! [...] bother enough people!!!
[...] no "BANG" of any kind!!!! [...] the CE theory!!!!
Randy, the exclamation mark key on your keyboard is stuck/faulty.
Please fix or replace your keyboard.

(TBH, people with faulty keyboards such as yours are at least as bothersome as miscellaneous strange names in physics.)
 
  • #14
marcus
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It would be most helpful and beneficial to the world of Physics if everybody would stop calling the Big Bang, the big bang. It is very misleading to the lay man (myself) and it does not do anything to promote the understanding of the universe. ...
I agree with the OP. If not for the unfortunate name, the cosmology section of PF would be half as voluminous.
Alas, by now it'd be even harder to get rid of than the relativistic mass.
I also agree with the OP. In fact there are a number of prominent mainstream cosmologists and relativists who are tending to apply the word "bounce" (instead of "bang") to the start of expansion of our universe. Check out some of these google searches.
bounce "Paul Steinhardt" 24,700 hits
bounce "Robert Brandenberger" 31,300 hits
bounce "Abhay Ashtekar" 25,300 hits
bounce "Patrick Peter" 19,200 hits
 
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  • #15
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I also agree with the OP. In fact there are a number of prominent mainstream cosmologists and relativists who are tending to apply the word "bounce" (instead of "bang") to the start of expansion of our universe. Check out some of these google searches.
bounce "Paul Steinhardt" 24,700 hits
bounce "Robert Brandenberger" 31,300 hits
bounce "Abhay Ashtekar" 25,300 hits
bounce "Patrick Peter" 19,200 hits
But we already have something else called big bounce!!!
 
  • #16
marcus
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We do indeed :w
This is the point I'm trying to get across to the OP. Actually all we really "have" is the start of expansion. We observe the expansion of distances. It is bad terminology to describe the beginning of this expansion as a "bang". How can this be resolved? One way it can be resolved, and in fact is being resolved (as we speak :) ) is by more senior leaders in the community, and their young researcher associates getting interested in the various types of bounce cosmology. Then more time at the major conferences, schools, workshops is spent on bounce models of cosmology and one word gradually replaces the other.
 
  • #17
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We do indeed :w
This is the point I'm trying to get across to the OP. Actually all we really "have" is the start of expansion. We observe the expansion of distances. It is bad terminology to describe the beginning of this expansion as a "bang". How can this be resolved? One way it can be resolved, and in fact is being resolved (as we speak :) ) is by more senior leaders in the community, and their young researcher associates getting interested in the various types of bounce cosmology. Then more time at the major conferences, schools, workshops is spent on bounce models of cosmology and one word gradually replaces the other.
Here you're talking about replacing the big bang theory with another theory(Or modifying it). But this thread is just about changing the name of the big bang theory!
 
  • #18
marcus
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I think the "big bang" term for Friedmann model expansion cosmology (not including the start) is on the way out in professional literature. It's more acceptable to call it other things like Friedmann model, LambdaCDM standard cosmic model, expansion cosmology, or simply cosmology (taking the expansion for granted.)

Frankly what we need a better term for is not the accepted expansion model but the START of expansion.

The word "bang" has to go because it is associated in people's minds with a "singularity". As far as we know, singularities do not occur in nature. We have no indication that curvature and density can become infinite and time evolution can stop. That is not physics, it is a glitch in the classical model of circa 1915. Singularity means mathematical failure of a human model, and it's a symptom the model needs improvement or replacement to get rid of the singularity.

There is increasing interest in replacing the failure point by a bounce. So that is one possible way this anomaly in our language might be resolved, and the bad terminology might be replace. One should keep on the lookout for other models that replace the singularity too!
Also it would help if more people would simply say "the start of expansion" when that is really what they mean.
 
  • #19
marcus
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Shyan, this may seem a bit odd but what these people are typically talking about is not a "Big Bounce Theory" but rather the standard "Big Bang Theory" (as reporters/popularizers call it) with a slight change in the first fraction of a second---replacing the singularity with a bounce---at the very start of expansion.

Ordinary Friedmann model cosmology is recovered after an extremely brief interval of time, like e.g. 100 Planck time units.

This is explicit in the December paper by Cai & Wilson-Ewing, for example. Coming into the bounce they have a phase which is dominated by matter (for simplicity they include Dark Matter and the usual small positive Λ, it is a standard Friedmann ΛCDM contraction). Then radiation energy becomes dominant (with the shortening of wavelengths).
Then at extremely high energy density, quantum effects become dominant and the actual rebound occurs.

And then they continue their analysis through the same 3 stages, into the expanding phase: quantum domination, radiation-dominant, matter dominant. And they are back on the familiar ΛCDM standard cosmic model track.
===
http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.2914
A ΛCDM bounce scenario
Yi-Fu Cai, Edward Wilson-Ewing
(Submitted on 9 Dec 2014)
We study a contracting universe composed of cold dark matter and radiation, and with a positive cosmological constant. As is well known from standard cosmological perturbation theory, under the assumption of initial quantum vacuum fluctuations the Fourier modes of the comoving curvature perturbation that exit the (sound) Hubble radius in such a contracting universe at a time of matter-domination will be nearly scale-invariant...
...
14 pages, 8 figures
===
I don't like calling the standard LCDM cosmic model by the name "big bang theory" and it is not called that in the professional literature. But IF YOU LIKE TO CALL IT THAT then what Cai&Wilson are analyzing here is:
"big bang theory with a bounce"
or "non-singular big bang theory"
It is just familiar old big bang Friedmann equation but with the singularity fixed---with a bounce replacing the failure point of the classical version. Does that make sense? I hope so. Let me know if you have problems with that viewpoint, or would prefer a different terminology.
 
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  • #20
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So "big bang" is the name of the nasty singularity and whatever we do with cosmology, we should get rid of that and whatever takes its place, has its own name that just throws away the "big bang" and replaces it. So we just need to do some physics instead of linguistics. Now that's what I like!

And those seem interesting marcus, thanks.
 
  • #21
marcus
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I like the public outreach essay called "tale of two big bangs" at the AEI website (Albert Einstein Institute one of Germany's Max Planck institutes).
It is a few years old, but it makes the point that in common language BB can mean two things----on one hand the whole expansion cosmology LCDM model or on the other hand just the singularity and whatever happened at the start.
It is a wide audience essay about one page long. If anybody wants it, just google "tale two big bangs" and you get
http://www.einstein-online.info/spotlights/big_bangs

The AEI is at Potsdam-Gölm near Berlin. Its public outreach website is called "einstein online"
It is one of the MPI chain of research institutes.
To me it makes a lot of sense for them to point out that "BB" can mean two very different things and accidentally blurring the distinction can confuse people.
 
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  • #22
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The word "butterfly" suggests a fly which has something to do with butter.
Ever seen a deer fly, Doc?
DrStupid said:
You cannot be serious!
I am, and it hurts like hell if they land on you... honest.

Lol... carry on.
 
  • #23
ChrisVer
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Names are just names....
If you call it X and people know what you are talking about, you are as valid as calling it Big Bang... However the name "X" doesn't sell as much as BB does o0) ...

Changing a word can be uninteresting and bad if whole generations grew up with it. Someone refered to the "relativistic mass" case... well relativistic mass name didn't change, it was just dropped out of use [nobody uses it due to its weakness]...It's totally different to changing the name of a Theory, something that, within the society, can only cause confusion. What for? to be "politically-correct" towards the language?

Everyone into cosmology knows that Big Bang has nothing to do with a Bang... It could be a Big event though...
 

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