In the Beginning Was the ATOM

Listening to the great MIT cosmologist Alan Guth describe the universe expanding within a fraction of a second from the size of an atom to a marble remains incredulous.  My initial thought was how does he know?  Believing in the big bang required a very large leap of faith.

The great cosmologists of the 20th century also though so too, like Einstein.  He stubbornly refused to believe it.  The work of managing this hypothesis fell to a Belgian Roman Catholic Priest named Georges Lemaitre, who was an accomplished astronomer and physicist. He theorized that the Universe expanded from the proposition that it was launched from a primeval atom, a process that he later termed ‘the big bang’.  Why is this significant?  Because at the time of his work, the vast majority of accomplished (read tenured lol) professional physicists assumed the universe to be static, with no beginning or end; a view identical to Aristotle.  Father Lemaitre, being a well trained Thomas, just couldn’t accept that premise.  Alone he worked out complicated mathematical results demonstrating the beginning of the universe based on Einstein’s own theory of general relativity.  Note, this was done after Edwin Hubble’s astronomical observations of 1929 which proved that Lemaitre was right about an expanding universe.

On March 17 of 2014, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics held a conference examining background imaging of cosmic extragalactic polarization (B.I.C.E.P.), meaning evidentiary support for gravitational waves confirming the existence of major theoretical components of Einstein’s theory of relativity, evidence supporting ‘the big bang.”

B.I.C.E.P. also supports cosmic inflation, a mechanism by which the early universe expanded from the size of an atom to that of a marble (Alan Guth).  So the ‘Big Bang’ is verified by B.I.C.E.P. but also from decades of data on background microwave radiation (embers of the big bang) as well as high-energy particle collisions from the Large Hadron Collider (a replica of the big bang.)

So, what’s the big deal?

The big deal is this:  the big bang didn’t happen in a void, it didn’t occur in ‘nothing’. It had to be spawned in some kind of pre-existent medium, like quantum foam (an idea).

So, we’re off to the races again, but this time on firmer ontological ground.


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