September 5, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Big Bang Fails Prediction: Is the Theory in Trouble?

Astronomers looking at WMAP data (03/20/2006, 05/02/2003) of the cosmic background radiation failed to find shadows predicted by the big bang, reported Science Daily.  So what?  Here’s what Dr. Richard Lieu (U of Alabama) said this means: “Either it (the microwave background) isn’t coming from behind the clusters, which means the Big Bang is blown away, or … there is something else going on.”  The Science Daily report began, “The apparent absence of shadows where shadows were expected to be is raising new questions about the faint glow of microwave radiation once hailed as proof that the universe was created by a “Big Bang.’”
    The background radiation should be behind galaxy clusters and should cast shadows, but only one-fourth as much shadowing was detected, and that could be indistinguishable from natural variation in the already-faint signal.  Though astronomers are seeking an explanation, none is claiming that the research team didn’t do their homework.  Their results, which they offer as open to scrutiny, is published in the Sept. 1 Astrophysical Journal.1


1Lieu, Mittaz and Zhang, “The Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Effect in a Sample of 31 Clusters: A Comparison between the X-Ray Predicted and WMAP Observed Cosmic Microwave Background Temperature Decrement,” The Astrophysical Journal, 648:176-199, 2006 September 1.

Theories that are widely accepted are rarely overthrown by one measurement.  Even the great Laplace did not abandon caloric theory after Count Rumford demonstrated by cannon-boring experiments that it was absurd to think a finite piece of metal could store an infinite amount of the imponderable substance (see UCI lecture notes and Wikipedia).
    Most cosmologists will undoubtedly feel this paper is “interesting” rather than threatening.  They will respond that the big bang theory has so much going for it, one anomaly will not demand an overhaul.  Some will seek alternative explanations for the Lieu et al data.  What shouldn’t be allowed is for the cosmological community to ignore this paper.  Science does not advance by ignor-ance.

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Categories: Cosmology, Physics

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