Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Bang! (III)


Science of God cover imageIn this article I will head straight for the tough stuff and tackle Chapter 3, The Age of Our Universe: Six Days and Fifteen Billion Years. This is mostly a summary of today’s scientific conclusions, and after we get a good layman’s grasp of this, we may be able better to judge whether it can be reconciled with an informed reading of Genesis Chapter 1.

Astronomy Picture of the Day: 2010 January 3
APOD Casimir image
A Force from Empty Space: The Casimir Effect
Credit & Copyright: Umar Mohideen (U. California at Riverside)

Explanation: This tiny ball provides evidence that the universe will expand forever. Measuring slightly over one tenth of a millimeter, the ball moves toward a smooth plate in response to energy fluctuations in the vacuum of empty space. The attraction is known as the Casimir Effect, named for its discoverer, who, 50 years ago, was trying to understand why fluids like mayonnaise move so slowly. Today, evidence is accumulating that most of the energy density in the universe is in an unknown form dubbed dark energy. The form and genesis of dark energy is almost completely unknown, but postulated as related to vacuum fluctuations similar to the Casimir Effect but generated somehow by space itself. This vast and mysterious dark energy appears to gravitationally repel all matter and hence will likely cause the universe to expand forever. Understanding vacuum fluctuations is on the forefront of research not only to better understand our universe but also for stopping micro-mechanical machine parts from sticking together.

This “dark energy” sounds to me very like the cosmic background radiation that Schroeder describes in a section on light as the cosmic clock, calling it a “cosmic timer.” Immediately after the big bang the universe started spinning off chunks of matter, each with its own local gravity and velocity and different rates at which time flowed. What was left is this background radiation, unchanged since the universe was formed.

The lights we see in the heavens originate with energy released in stellar and galactic nuclear reactions. But there is another source of cosmic radiation, one that has been present since the creation of the universe.


2 Responses to “Bang! (III)”
  1. Nicolas says:

    Interesting, did you plan to continue this article?

  2. Dave says:

    I think there was a comment to this post that somehow slipped through the cracks while I was updating the blog software. Someone asked if I planned to continue this post, since it appears to be left hanging without a proper finish.

    Since some time has passed, I probably won’t edit this post, but the subject of the Big Bang is not going away. And my interest in things astronomical is growing, day by day, so I suspect most of my posts from here on out will find me mostly gazing out into space and pondering what I see.

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