The Universe May Have No Beginning and No End
How Flawed is the Big Bang Theory?
Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Wolowitz all seem to buy into the BBT unequivocally on their TV show by the same name, Big Bang Theory. But how accurate is such a theory? Can we consider it fact, or is it merely more popular than other approaches to how the universe originated?
Georges Lemaitre, both a Belgian astronomer (and a priest, oddly enough), is first credited with coming up with the idea of the Big Bang Theory in 1930. He published a detailed version of the theory in Annals of the Scientific Society of Brussels and received several distinctions and awards for it by noted scientists of his day that promoted the finding, such as Albert Einstein. Since Lemaitre’s cosmological ideas expanded upon the recent discovery of the theory of relativity by Einstein, Lemaitre’s views received a lot of attention and soon became dominant.
There are several alternatives to a Big Bang approach to the origin of the universe however, that still hold some validity in scientific circles. Several problems with estimates for a big bang origin to space and time put the theory into doubt. These include issues such as the fact that dark matter and energy are required for the big bang equations to add up properly. Estimates are that only about 4% of the known universe is baryonic, or particle based matter, plus energy, and the rest is a great mystery that is categorized as both dark matter and dark energy, undetectable by current instrumentation or scientific understanding.
The inflationary nature of space also required by the big bang theory would not be remotely accurate without the effects of dark matter and energy on what we can measure of the universe. Problems such as stars being older than the universe itself is measured to be also arise without the effects of dark energy alone shaping the cosmos as it supposedly expands and ages.
Alternatives to the big bang theory include Steady State and pulsating theories for space and time which have largely been discounted. Probably the most widely accepted alternative explanation for the origin of the cosmos to date is that of an endless cycle of growth and stagnation (kind of like what the US economy periodically goes through).
Such a cyclical approach relies on the idea that the universe expands for about 14 billion years, which the Big Bang theory also supports, and then it goes into a slower, dormant period for trillions of years that eventually leads to a rebirth of a concentrated space-time cosmos of galactic clusters. In such a theory no contraction is required for a new "restart" of the big bang itself. A M-theory or multiverse of some sort must exist however, where possibly infinite parallel universes simultaneously evolve within the same space but while occupying different physical dimensions.
This cyclical alternative solves one of the biggest logical impossibilities in cosmology, of what initiated the big bang from absolute nothingness itself. It also explains much of the data gathered by astronomers in recent decades better than the big bang approach has, which relies on the crutch of hidden "dark" matter and energy for the math to add up. This "cyclic universe theory" also accounts for many new discoveries in string theory being revealed in theoretical physics today.
The Big Bang theory is more of a popular trend in physics than a proven fact. Objective scientific research may soon prove that it was a dead end as an explanation to the origins of the cosmos. Were such a revelation to replace the current paradigm in physics, self-important researchers like Sheldon Cooper might blow their own minds trying to grasp such changes. Maybe that’s not a bad thing… At least he'd stop tormenting Penny all the time.