Big Bang – too fast, Part I

Now, from the pages of the February 2004 Scientific American: according to the latest Big Bang models from the physicists and astronomers, the universe as we know it started expanding from a mathematical point source, some 13.7 billion years ago.

There were photons and electrons and protons floating around in the plasma, a kind of hot cosmic soup. But the plasma was at first too hot for the electrons and protons to combine into the gas hydrogen, the simplest atom. No hydrogen. No gas clouds. No stars or starlight. Just a glowing soup.

According to the model, the newborn universe was expanding at the speed of light. So, after 380,000 years, if an observer in the center could have seen it (and there were anything to see), the visible horizon of the universe would be a sphere 380,000 light years in diameter.

According to the same model, the newborn universe was already much larger than that visible horizon. If nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, how did that matter get there?

A conundrum. Something must be wrong with the model.

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1 thought on “Big Bang – too fast, Part I

  1. The sequel: at about t=380,000 years, the plasma cooled enough for hydrogen gas atoms to start to “recombine” from the particle soup. Gas clouds meant gravitational attraction and compression, and higher and higher pressures. Where the gas wasn’t concentrating, vacuum replaced the soupy mists. This eventually kindled the very first stars at roughly t=300,000,000 years. So, “let there be light” took a little while. “And make it snappy” really meant something more like “all things considered”.

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