By: Dawn Luger, The Daily Sheeple |
Steven Hawking and 32 of his fellow scientists have written an angry letter about the origins of the universe in response to a recent Scientific American article about the same topic. Hawking, an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, wrote the letter in “categorical disagreement.”
The Scientific American article challenged the cosmic inflation theory and suggested scientists look for new ideas on the origins of the universe. But Hawking took issue with the new ideas presented. Titled Pop Goes the Universe, physicists Anna Ijjas, Paul J. Steinhardt, and Abraham Loeb examine the latest measurements from the European Space Agency relating to cosmic microwave background (CMB). CMB is the oldest light in the universe which is said to have been emitted during the “Big Bang” (the universe’s beginning) around 13 billion years ago. In 2013, a map of the CMB appeared to show how the universe inflated extremely fast, before settling down to become the universe we see today. This, many experts said, backed up models relating to inflation theories, where the universe expanded exponentially fast a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.
Time Magazine stated that Hawking and his colleagues firmly believe in the Big Bang Theory, so their angry reaction letter was perfectly predictable – even though it is just a theory, like the proposed “Big Bounce.”
The Big Bounce Theory says that the universe is in an infinite cycle of expansion and contraction. Right now, the universe is expanding. But once the energy runs out for expansion, the universe will contract. When it gets small enough, it will have no option but to begin expansion once again. The authors of the “Big Bounce Theory” also pointed out fundamental flaws in the Big Bang theory, which is widely accepted among scientists, including that we are yet to discover primordial gravitational waves–ripples in spacetime created by the Big Bang. Another problem is that inflation requires the existence of “inflationary energy,” for which there is no direct evidence.
But Hawking and his colleagues were amazingly upset by the proposed theory. “By claiming that inflationary cosmology lies outside the scientific method, IS&L [the authors of the earlier article] are dismissing the research of not only all the authors of this letter but also that of a substantial contingent of the scientific community,” they wrote to Scientific American. That’s certainly a bold statement, but Hawking and his team’s letter continued.
“Moreover, as the work of several major, international collaborations has made clear, inflation is not only testable, but it has been subjected to a significant number of tests and so far has passed every one,” the letter added. Ijjas, Steinhardt, and Loeb were disappointed with the scientists’ response. “We firmly believe that in a healthy scientific community, respectful disagreement is possible and hence reject the suggestion that by pointing out problems, we are discarding the work of all of those who developed the theory of inflation and enabled precise measurements of the universe,” they responded.
Their main point, they said, is that “we should be talking about the contemporary version of inflation, warts and all, not some defunct relic.” They argue that even when different parameters are taken into account, there are an infinite number of outcomes relating to any model of inflation. “Our article was not intended to revisit old debates but to discuss the implications of recent observations and to point out unresolved issues that present opportunities for a new generation of young cosmologists to make a lasting impact.”