HomeScienceJames Webb Space Telescope Shows Big Bang Didn’t Happen? Guard…
James Webb Space Telescope Shows Big Bang Didn’t Happen? Guard…
August 13, 2022
Physicist Eric J. Lerner gets to the point:
To all who see them, the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) images of the cosmos are beautifully awe-inspiring. But to most professional astronomers and cosmologists, they are also extremely surprising – not at all what the theory predicted. In the deluge of technical astronomical papers published online since July 12, the authors report again and again that the images show a surprising number of galaxies, galaxies that are surprisingly smooth, surprisingly small and surprisingly old. Lots of surprises, and not necessarily pleasant ones. The title of a paper begins with the candid exclamation, “Panic!”
Why are the images of the JWST causing panic among cosmologists? And which predictions of the theory contradict? The papers don’t actually say it. The truth that these papers fail to report is that the hypothesis that the JWST’s images blatantly and repeatedly contradict the big bang hypothesis is that the universe began in an incredibly hot, dense state 14 billion years ago and has been expanding ever since. Since that hypothesis has been defended as unquestionable truth by the vast majority of cosmological theorists for decades, the new data is causing these theorists to panic. “Right now I’m lying awake at 3 a.m.,” said Alison Kirkpatrick, an astronomer at the University of Kansas at Lawrence, “and wondering if everything I’ve done is wrong.”
Eric J. Lerner“The Big Bang Didn’t Happen” on IAI.TV (August 11, 2022)
Although we mostly didn’t hear about it, there has been dissatisfaction with the Standard Model, which begins with the Big Bang, since it was first proposed by Georges Lemaitre nearly a century ago. But no one expected the James Webb Space Telescope to contribute to the debate.
Now Lerner is the author of a book called The big bang never happened (1992) but – while that makes him a stakeholder – it doesn’t make him wrong. He will speak at the HowTheLightGetsIn festival in London (17-18 September 2022), sponsored by the Institute for Art and Ideas (IAI), as a participant in the “Cosmology and the Big Bust” debate.
The upcoming debate, which will include philosopher of science Bjørn Ekeberg and Yale astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, along with Lerner, goes like this:
The big bang theory largely depends on the ‘inflation’ hypothesis that the universe initially expanded many orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light. But experiments have shown no evidence of cosmic inflation, and since the beginning of the theory, it has been plagued by deep puzzles. Now one of its founders, Paul Steinhardt, has denounced the theory as incorrect and “scientifically meaningless.”
Should we give up the theory of cosmic inflation and look for a radical alternative? Could alternative theories such as the Big Bounce or giving up the speed of light offer a solution? Or are such alternatives just band-aids to avoid the more radical conclusion that it’s time to give up the big bang altogether?
Here’s a debate on this general topic from last year’s festival (but without JWST data). It features theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math: how beauty leads physics astray, along with Ekeberg and particle physicist Sam Henry.
So yeah, it’s been a serious topic of discussion for a while now. What about Eric Lerner’s approach? Experimental physicist Rob Sheldon offered: Mind Matters News some thoughts and a possible solution:
Current thinking is that the era of big bang nucleosynthesis produced 75% hydrogen and 25% helium (by weight) and a little lithium, but not much else. Then, after 300 thousand years, the universe had cooled enough to produce atoms, and gravity slowly, slowly built stars. The early ones were big enough to explode, and the shock waves sent through the hydrogen gas created cavities that started star-making in earnest. But it still took 500 million years to get enough stars for a galaxy. The earlier a galaxy forms, the further back in time and the farther it is from today’s astronomers, and the further away, the faster it moves away from us. This movement causes the light to be shifted red. This relationship is so robust that astronomers have replaced “time” with “redshift”. But the Hubble Space Telescope could only see visible light, and those early galaxies were so red-shifted that they were only “visible” in the infrared, which is where the James Webb telescope shines. So one of the goals of the James Webb telescope was to see the earliest galaxies, and indeed, they see a lot.
What does this mean for the standard model?
Theorists have an answer. Lots of clumpy dark matter to make the hydrogen gas clump early. Which leads to the question, “why isn’t the dark matter lumpy now?”
I don’t have the stamina to run down every rabbit trail that cosmologists suggest. Instead, I propose that the first stars were not made of hydrogen, but of ice. The Big Bang abundantly synthesized C and O, which together with H formed H2O, CO2, CH4, etc. These gases freeze relatively early in the universe time frame, so clumping was not gravitational but physicochemical, the same way snowflakes are formed. So we didn’t have to wait 500 million years for snowflakes to clump together, it happened very quickly once the universe cooled to below freezing. That’s why James Webb sees many redshifted galaxies from the early Universe.
The article about it (and perhaps the prediction of what James Webb would find?) is in my open access paper in Communications from the Blythe Institute for 2021.
That’s a possible solution. We know it’s science when it always presents challenges.
This sometimes comes up: Could the universe have always existed? The problem is that if the universe had existed indefinitely, everything that could possibly have happened must have already happened an infinite number of times — including that we don’t exist and never did. But we know we exist. As Robert J. Marks has pointed out, playing with infinity quickly leads to absurdity. To do science, we have to accept that some events are real and not contradict each other. So we can assume that the universe started, but we are now a little less sure how that happened.
You may also want to read: Have physicists opened a portal to an extra dimension of time, as claimed? That’s how the story reads at Scientific American. But experimental physicist Rob Sheldon is not so quick to say… The physicists, who constructed ‘time crystals’, happened on an error correction technique for quantum computers. The rest is the story we would all like to be in.