Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon SinghA half century ago, a shocking Washington Post headline claimed that the world began in five cataclysmic minutes rather than having existed for all time; a skeptical scientist dubbed the maverick theory the Big Bang. In this amazingly comprehensible history of the universe, Simon Singh decodes the mystery behind the Big Bang theory, lading us through the development of one of the most extraordinary, important, and awe-inspiring theories in science.
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What Is the Big Bang Theory?
The Big Bang Theory is the leading explanation about how the universe began. At its simplest, it says the universe as we know it started with a small singularity, then inflated over the next Because current instruments don't allow astronomers to peer back at the universe's birth, much of what we understand about the Big Bang Theory comes from mathematical formulas and models. Astronomers can, however, see the "echo" of the expansion through a phenomenon known as the cosmic microwave background. While the majority of the astronomical community accepts the theory, there are some theorists who have alternative explanations besides the Big Bang — such as eternal inflation or an oscillating universe. The phrase "Big Bang Theory" has been popular among astrophysicists for decades, but it hit the mainstream in when a comedy show with the same name premiered on CBS. The show follows the home and academic life of several researchers including an astrophysicist.
The Big Bang theory represents cosmologists ' best attempts to reconstruct the 14 billion year story of the universe based on the sliver of existence visible today. Different people use the term "Big Bang" in different ways. Most generally, it illustrates the arc of the observable universe as it thinned out and cooled down from an initially dense, hot state. This description boils down to the idea that the cosmos is expanding, a broad principle analogous to survival of the fittest in biology that few would consider debatable. More specifically, the Big Bang can also refer to the birth of the observable universe itself — the moment something changed, kickstarting the events that led to today.
For centuries, humans have gazed at the stars and wondered how the universe developed into what it is today. It's been the subject of religious, philosophical, and scientific discussion and debate. People who have tried to uncover the mysteries of the universe's development include such famous scientists as Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble and Stephen Hawking. One of the most famous and widely accepted models for the universe's development is the big bang theory. Although the big bang theory is famous, it's also widely misunderstood. A common misperception about the theory is that it describes the origin of the universe.
On a bright spring morning 50 years ago, two young astronomers at Bell Laboratories were tuning a foot, horn-shaped antenna pointed toward the sky over New Jersey. Their goal was to measure the Milky Way galaxy, home to planet Earth. To their puzzlement, Robert W. Wilson and Arno A. Penzias heard the insistent hiss of radio signals coming from every direction—and from beyond the Milky Way.
The comedy—recently extended to —revolves around a gang of physicists and an engineer who work at the California Institute of Technology. Some recurring themes include their dorky obsession with sci-fi and comic books, their roller coaster—like love lives, and their surprisingly accurate scientific research in the lab. Saltzberg is an astrophysicist at the University of California, Los Angeles. Q: Science last spoke with you in The writers and I used to have to go back and forth a lot more for me to converge on what they wanted.