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MinutePhysics

Watch: Here's Everything That's Wrong With 'The Big Bang Theory'

BEC CREW
7 AUG 2015

The struggle that we see between science and religion today is certainly more stretched than it's ever been, but it's certainly not a new thing. As the fascinating episode of MinutePhysics above explains, centuries ago, physicists thought that the Universe had existed forever, and was static, eternal, and unchanging. Of course, that theory was at serious odds with the origin stories held up by most major religions at the time, and this prompted a Catholic Priest in Belgium, Georges Lemaître, to take up cosmology and propose an alternative theory - the Universe did have a beginning, and it's expanding.

 

Lemaître had the latest observations from American astronomer Edwin Hubble to back him up, plus the mathematics from Einstein's general theory of relativity, which together allowed him to 'rewind' the history of the Universe and reveal that over billions and billions of years, it's been getting larger. He called this theory the Primeval Atom, but we now know of it as the Big Bang Theory. "Except 'Big Bang' is a horrible name - it would be much more accurate to call it the Everywhere Stretch," says Henry Reich in the video above.

This is because the words "big" and "bang" suggest that the observable Universe started off as a single point, from which everything suddenly expanded into the surrounding nothingness. But that's not what the evidence tells us. The truth is everything in the observable Universe was condensed down into a very small space in the beginning, but it wasn't a single point, and the rest of the Universe was still out there surrounding it.

The key to everything appears to be the incredible power of infinity. It could be that the Universe is, in fact, infinite, which means it doesn't matter how much you shrink everything inside it down, it's still gonna be infinite. "Essentially, space doesn't need anything to expand 'into', because it can expand into itself, and still have plenty of room," says the video.

Back to that horrible phrase, the Big Bang, and Henry's case for it being renamed the Everywhere Stretch hinges on the fact that the expansion of the observable Universe wasn't just 'big', it was everywhere, and it wasn't an explosion, it was just space stretching out into itself.

And while we're at it, we should probably rethink the resulting name of the Big Bang Singularity, of which every word is misleading, says Henry. Why? Well, we'll let him explain that one, because he does such an awesome job at it explaining how "singularity" became code for "we have no freaking idea". 

So where does the notion of 'God' come into all of this? You'll have to watch the video above to find out, because there is a specific point in the theory where we could put him. But then again, how do we explain the evidence that suggests something else had been going on before that point? Thanks for melting our brains once again, Henry.