|Something there is more immortal even than the stars
What does Cosmic Ancestry imply about the distant future? Specifically, could we, as Cosmic Ancestors ourselves, launch bacteria and viruses to ride in comets to viable planets without limit, and live, in that way, forever? We would face at least two kinds of problems: namely, the two kinds of entropy, thermodynamic and logical (2).
— Walt Whitman (1)
The End and the Big Bang What'sNEW
The Thermodynamic End
Will there always be viable planets, or any planets at all? This is a cosmological question. There seems to be general agreement among cosmologists that, ultimately, the physical universe will wind down to a "heat death". When the law of thermodynamic entropy is applied at the scale of the whole universe, this is the conclusion we reach. So, even if we had taken life to other galaxies, or even if life were already there too, we're all doomed because the stars will all burn out. Perhaps not bacteria, but multicelled life as we know it completely depends on starlight to power photosynthesis. Without any light shining from stars, there won't be viable planets in this universe. So, in the end, we're goners anyway, right? Maybe. If all the stars burned out and the planets became cold, couldn't bacterial spores still remain viable in empty space, as clouds of dust? Something similar was suggested by Steven Frautschi in a 1982 article "Entropy in an Expanding Universe" (3).
And, of course, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe find evidence that a large fraction of interstellar dust is already bacteria and possibly viruses. But if someday all that remains of life is clouds of quiescent bacterial spores and viruses in a cold dark universe, then what?
Cosmologists generally agree that our universe is spatially finite. Huge, yes, but still finite. Having begun in a big bang, it is closed in the way black holes are closed. No matter what technology we might develop, we can't leave. Even if we had left behind clouds of bacterial spores in empty space, they'd be stuck there. The ultimate heat death of the universe might be the end of it after all — right?
Maybe. Fred Hoyle doesn't accept the big bang theory. It was he, incidentally, who coined the term "big bang" on March 28, 1949, in one of a series of lectures on BBC radio (3.5). Hoyle has long advocated a "steady state" theory for the universe. In a steady state universe, there is no beginning and no end. A recent elaboration of Hoyle's steady state theory involves perhaps thousands of "major creation events" within this universe in its past (4), or many "little big bangs," which could account for the distribution of galaxies in colliding spherical shells (5).
The Big Bang
It is mystifying that a large part of the community of astronomers and astrophysicists around the world should regard the big bang as a good approximation of something called "the truth" when they are aware of the empirical problems crying out for attention. Can we no longer live with the knowledge that we are ignorant of many things? — John Maddox, 1998 (6)
Most cosmologists agree that our universe started with a big bang, seven or ten or fifteen billion years ago. However, even the accepted inflationary big bang theory has been amended by its authors. They say that the big bang was not necessarily the only big bang. Equally likely and more plausible is the hypothesis that there have been lots of big bangs, and that there will be lots more:
- An analysis of localized inflation suggests that empty space may be spawning universes by the billions, without us ever knowing; was our universe created this way? — M. Mitchell Waldrop, 1987 (7)
- Without much notice, the notion that the Universe may have been through an infinite series of bouts of creation, and not just one, has been making headway in the literature — John Maddox, 1994 (8)
- Recent versions of the inflationary scenario describe the universe as a self-generating fractal that sprouts other inflationary universes — Andrei Linde, 1994 (illustration) (9)
If there have been many big bangs, then it would be possible for universes to merge. Even if the universe is closed in the manner of a black hole, it could merge with another universe, just as black holes can merge. What would prevent a new expanding universe from swallowing the contents of an older, thermodynamically dying universe? It wouldn't be a merger of equals. It would, nonetheless, be a way for clouds of bacteria and viruses, all that might remain of life in our universe someday, to get close to some shining stars and viable planets and get life going again.
Of course, the actual mechanism whereby life might invade a new universe is unknown. But, as we have seen, the big bang theory is neither complete nor secure enough to rule out this possibility. Another reason to consider it is the biological evidence that life appears to require a means to have invaded this universe. This reasoning gives the evidence from biology as much weight as that from cosmology.
The conflict was analogous when the estimated age of planet Earth, calculated by Lord Kelvin in 1846, was a hundred million years, give or take a factor of three or four (10). Kelvin, the preeminent cosmologist of his day, based his estimate on the presumed heat of Earth at its formation, the net rate at which heat would be radiated away, and the current surface temperature. Darwin's early critics, Kelvin included, argued that this age was too young for evolution to accomplish all that it claimed. Darwin had no direct argument to use against Kelvin — only the biological evidence for evolution. So he ignored Kelvin's estimated age and continued to uphold his theory of evolution. In 1896, radioactivity, a crucial ingredient missing from Kelvin's formula, was discovered and Darwin's critics dropped the issue. Today there is abundant evidence that Earth is about 4.6 billion years old.
Because the standard one-time-only big bang theory is not firmly established, the thermodynamic entropy law cannot be invoked to keep life from lasting forever. What about the other problem — logical entropy?
The Logical End
In Cosmic Ancestry, life imposes organization on nonliving matter from the top down. Bacteria invade a lifeless planet and organize its environment. They're robots, genetically programmed to do a job. Later, new genetic programs within bacteria already, and new programs installed by viruses and other gene transfer mechanisms, become activated in the bacteria to enable eukaryotes and multicelled life to evolve. The progress of evolution depends on the availability of the genes necessary for each evolutionary step.
There may be a lot more potential in our genes than has been expressed so far. Looking at the accelerating curve of evolution up to now, we should not be surprised if evolution continues, producing even more highly organized forms of life. Evolution by the same process that has brought us this far could well take us even farther. And already, today, genetic engineering might enable us to augment the process. In the not-too-distant future, perhaps we could identify every working or workable gene in every creature that exists. If some creatures such as salamanders and lilies act as the stacks for the genetic library, maybe we could comprehend and catalog the stacks. Perhaps we could replicate genes never expressed before and install them into people or other creatures, to hasten life's evolution as far as the genetic potential allows.
We could have genetic potential equal to that of our Cosmic Ancestors. They would have made it available. Cosmic Ancestors would have envisioned, on other planets, "daughter" civilizations equal to their own. Why would they do less? Why wouldn't they try to enable their cosmic descendants to achieve the complete potential of life, whatever that is?
One troubling aspect of this picture should be addressed. By sending the genes in bacteria and viruses into deep space on comets with random trajectories, Cosmic Ancestors take the risk that some of the genes will be lost. Lots of the bacteria and viruses will fall into stars and burn. Most of them will drift forever in interstellar clouds or on comets that never come near any planet. So although a planet may come to life and start up the evolutionary ladder, it may not receive the entire set of genetic programs. The lack of an essential genetic program or group of programs might, for example, prevent the evolution of eukaryotes. The highest form of life on that planet would be scum, literally. Or mammals might never evolve. Admittedly there may be pathways besides mammals that can lead to a highly intelligent civilization. But whatever pathway were taken by life on any planet, its full potential would be that contained in the genetic instructions that ultimately became available on the planet. Perhaps we on Earth could "fill in" some simpler missing programs, such as the subroutines for pinstriped tulips, by writing them ourselves, if we wanted to. But no matter what level of civilization might be reached by a planet's life, it could not lift itself up by its bootstraps, so to speak, beyond the potential in its genes. That's not permitted by the law of logical entropy. Ultimately then, if something else does not extinguish us first, and if the traffic of comets to the inner solar system slows down to a trickle or a stop, the evolution of life on Earth should reach a limit. The limit would be no higher than that made available by our Cosmic Ancestors. And it could be lower, if some genetic instructions have been lost. Thus, the evolutionary potential of life on Earth could be equal to, or less than, but not greater than that of our Cosmic Ancestors. The logical entropy ratchet works only that way.
What if human society were able to coordinate itself in the manner of parallel computers? Could the power of that huge coordinated thinking machine increase without limit, just by adding more units? The problem is interesting. But in the philosophy expressed here, bootstrapping will never work, at any level. Probably, if we were missing a piece of genetic programming which is essential for some higher evolutionary step, we simply would never make that step.
It's worth wondering how plentiful in space the genetic programming for life might be. If it is very plentiful, then the failure of life on one planet to reach the full potential of Cosmic Ancestry would be a local tragedy, and nothing more. Life would surely carry on elsewhere.
But on Earth, if the programming for an evolutionary step in a higher direction were missing, how would we know it? Would we even be able to imagine it? Probably not. A city of prairie dogs could not imagine building steel high-rise buildings. Of course they couldn't. Hyenas can't imagine an armistice. How could we, after comprehending and utilizing every gene on Earth, know what higher potential, if any, were lacking?
Perhaps we could only know by an inarticulate gnawing feeling that something indefinable was missing. Or, if our scientific research stalled without enabling us to become Cosmic Ancestors ourselves, we might logically assume that something was missing. In either case, perhaps we would guess that there was a higher level of evolution available in the lost genes, somewhere out among the stars. A holy grail, a means of salvation, might be out there. Perhaps, driven by wordless longing or scientific faith, we would search for it.
23 Sep 2021: So what happened to all the cold gas in these galaxies so early on? — Kate Whitaker
New type of dark energy could solve Universe expansion mystery, by Davide Castelvecchi, Nature, 17 Sep 2021.
26 Aug 2021: Flashes of Creation... and the Great Big Bang Debate by Paul Halpern.
"James Peebles: a life in cosmology" by Sergio de Regules, Physics World, 02 Jul 2021. ...I believe we need alternative theories about what the universe was doing before it was expanding.
An arc of galaxies 3 billion light-years long may challenge cosmology by Lisa Grossman, Science News, 10 Jun 2021.
Most Distant Cosmic Jet Providing Clues About Early Universe, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (+Newswise), 08 Mar 2021. The black holes ...challenge our understanding of how they could have grown in the relatively short time available to them that early in the universe's history.
Mature features are detected in an early galaxy [link], by Julie Wardlow, Science, 12 Feb 2021; re:
A massive stellar bulge in a regularly rotating galaxy 1.2 billion years after the Big Bang [link], doi:10.1126/science.abc1893, by Federico Lelli et al., Science, 12 Feb 2021.
...the galaxy contains...features that models predict take billions of years to form.
...How Universes Might Bubble Up and Collide by Charlie Wood, Quanta, 25 Jan 2021.
22 Dec 2020: ...there is something seriously wrong with our understanding of the cosmos.
05-08 Nov 2020: George Nickas has informed comments about Paul Steinhardt's bouncing universe.
Big Bounce Simulations Challenge the Big Bang by Charlie Wood, Quanta (+Wired), 04 Aug 2020 (artist's impression, right). Inflation doesn't work as it was intended to work said Paul Steinhardt, an architect of inflation....
31 Oct 2020: our comments on the bouncing universe.
"Some Things Are Simply Given" [pdf | docx] by Brig Klyce, Cosmic Genetic Evolution, v 106, "Advances in Genetics," Oct 2020.
An excess of small-scale gravitational lenses observed in galaxy clusters by Massimo Meneghetti et al., Science, 11 Sep 2020. The discrepancy between observations and simulations is about an order of magnitude.
A dynamically cold disk galaxy in the early Universe by
F. Rizzo et al., Nature, 12 Aug 2020.
Mystery over Universe's expansion deepens with fresh data by
Davide Castelvecchi, Nature, 15 Jul 2020.
New View of Nature's Oldest Light Adds Twist to Debate Over Universe's Age, A&S Communications, Cornell University, 15 Jul 2020.
Monster Black Hole Found in the Early Universe, NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (+Newswise), 25 Jun 2020. This discovery presents the biggest challenge yet for the theory of black hole formation and growth in the early Universe.
New Distance Measurements Bolster Challenge to Basic Model of Universe, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (+Newswise), 11 Jun 2020.
Remembering Big Bang Basher Fred Hoyle by John Horgan, Scientific American, 07 Apr 2020.
Scientists perplexed by huge, mysterious "Monster" Galaxy that suddenly went dark by Andrew Griffin, Independent via UC Riverside (+Newswise), 05 Feb 2020. ...the vast galaxy does not fit with our existing models of the early universe.
21 Jan 2020: The Big Bang is widely accepted ...but other theories ...are suggesting otherwise.
Stellar Velocity Dispersion of a Massive Quenching Galaxy at z = 4.01 by Masayuki Tanaka et al., The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 06 Nov 2019. Our results imply that the first phase may be completed as early as z ~ 4.
Spectroscopic confirmation of a mature galaxy cluster at a redshift of 2 by J. P. Willis et al., Nature, 01 Jan 2020. ...indicating that star formation commenced in these galaxies ...when the Universe was only 370 million years old.
ALMA Spots Most Distant Dusty Galaxy..., National Radio Astronomy Observatory (+Newswise), 11 Dec 2019. Such monster galaxies are not expected to have formed early in the history of the universe, but astronomers have already discovered several of them....
15 Nov 2019: ...in fact, we have no good theory of such a thing as the beginning — James Peebles (pictured), 2019 Nobel laureate in physics.
Ancient gas cloud shows that the first stars must have formed very quickly, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, 31 Oct 2019. The ratios of the abundances of heavier elements were very close to the ratios in the modern universe. The fact that this gas cloud in the very early universe already contains metals with modern relative chemical abundances poses key challenges for the formation of the first generation of stars.
Universe could loop back on itself, study of ancient light suggests by Adrian Cho, Science, 07 Nov 2019. ...if the claim stands up, it would harpoon the concept of inflation.... re: Planck evidence for a closed Universe and a possible crisis for cosmology by Eleonora Di Valentino, Alessandro Melchiorri and Joseph Silk, Nature Astronomy, 04 Nov 2019.
Cosmic Yeti from the Dawn of the Universe Found Lurking in Dust, University of Arizona News (+Newswise), 22 Oct 2019. Recent studies found that some of the biggest galaxies in the young universe grew up and came of age extremely quickly, a result that is not understood theoretically. Massive mature galaxies are seen when the universe was only a cosmic toddler at 10% of its current age. Even more puzzling is that these mature galaxies appear to come out of nowhere: astronomers never seem to catch them while they are forming.
11 Aug 2019: A star that is "older than the universe" is baffling scientists....
An "Impossible" White Dwarf Identified in Kepler Data by Susanna Kohler, American Astronomical Society (+Sky & Telescope), 07 Aug 2019.
New Hubble Constant Measurement Adds to Mystery of Universe's Expansion Rate, Space Telescope Science Institute, 16 Jul 2019, and ..."crisis" in physics by Joshua Sokol, p 306-307 Science, 26 Jul 2019.
ALMA Finds Earliest Example of Merging Galaxies, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), 17 Jun (+Universe Today, 19 Jun) 2019.
30 Apr 2019: New data show the universe expanding 9% faster than predicted by the big bang theory.
The progeny of a Cosmic Titan: a massive multi-component proto-supercluster in formation at z=2.45 in VUDS by O. Cucciati et al., Astronomy & Astrophysics, proof online 06 Sep 2018. It was a surprise to see something this evolved when the Universe was relatively young!
The onset of star formation 250 million years after the Big Bang by Takuya Hashimoto et al., Nature, 16 May 2018. This extremely distant, extremely young galaxy has a remarkable chemical maturity to it.
Improved Hubble Yardstick Gives Fresh Evidence for New Physics in the Universe, Space Telescope Science Institute (+Newswise), 22 Feb 2018. ...the results are forcing astronomers to consider that they may be seeing evidence of something unexpected at work in the universe.
How the Universe Got Its Bounce Back, Quanta Magazine, 31 Jan 2018. ...resuscitates an old idea that directly challenges the Big Bang theory of cosmic origins.
Dark-matter hunt fails to find the elusive particles by Elizabeth Gibney, Nature News, 08 Nov 2017. We do not understand how the Universe works at a deeper and more profound level than most of us care to admit.
25 Mar 2017: Facts and Speculations in Cosmology by Jayant Narlikar and Geoffrey Burbidge.
Hubble trouble by Joshua Sokol, doi:10.1126/science.355.6329.1010 [online version], Science, 10 Mar 2017. ...if the disagreement holds, it will be a crack in the firmament of modern cosmology that points to new physics.
31 Dec 2016: Vera Rubin (1928-2016) observed that galaxies rotate under the influence of unseen matter.
Good data are not enough by Avi Loeb, Nature, 03 Nov 2016. ...the standard model of cosmology is merely a precise account of our ignorance....
NASA's Hubble Finds Universe Is Expanding Faster Than Expected, Hubblesite (+Newswise), 2 Jun 2016.
Measurement of Universe's expansion rate creates cosmological puzzle by Davide Castelvecchi, Nature, 11 Apr 2016. Discrepancy between observations could point to new physics.
Xue-Bing Wu et al., "An ultraluminous quasar with a twelve-billion-solar-mass black hole at redshift 6.30" [text], doi:10.1038/nature14241, Nature, 26 Feb 2015. The existence of [black holes with a mass of about one billion solar masses] when the Universe was less than one billion years old presents substantial challenges to theories of the formation and growth of black holes and the coevolution of black holes and galaxies.
18 Apr 2015: A galaxy less than 2% as old as the universe had already formed much of its stars and metals.
23 Feb 2015: The second law essentially says that the universe must have had a beginning and [will have] an end.
Ahmed Farag Ali and Saurya Das, "Cosmology from quantum potential" [text], p 276-279 v 741, Physics Letters B (+arXiv:1404.3093), 4 Feb 2015. The second quantum correction term pushes back the time singularity indefinitely, and predicts an everlasting universe. And commentary:
No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning by Lisa Zyga, PhysOrg.com, 9 Feb 2015.
Curtain falls on controversial big bang result by Adrian Cho, Science New, 30 Jan 2015.
John Horgan, "Physicist Slams Cosmic Theory He Helped Conceive" [html], Scientific American, 01 Dec 2014.
The Black Hole at the Birth of the Universe, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (+Newswise), 7 Aug 2014. "The problem, as the authors see it, is that the big bang hypothesis has our relatively comprehensible, uniform, and predictable universe arising from the physics-destroying insanity of a singularity. It seems unlikely."
Gravitational-wave team admits findings could amount to dust by Ron Cowen, Nature News, 20 Jun 2014.
BICEP2 paper published—with big caveat by Adrian Cho, ScienceShot, 19 Jun 2014.
Adrian Cho, "Blockbuster claim could collapse in a cloud of dust" [abstract], p 790 v 344, Science, 23 May 2014.
24 Apr 2014: Brilliant Blunders by Mario Livio has an excellent section on Fred Hoyle and the big bang.
Gravitational-wave finding causes 'spring cleaning' in physics by Ron Cowen, Nature News, 21 Mar 2014. "Big Bang findings would strengthen case for multiverse and all but rule out a 'cyclic Universe'."
Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse [author's page | publisher's promo], ISBN:978-0-231-15662-2, Jan 2014.
Einstein's lost theory uncovered by Davide Castelvecchi, Nature News, 24 Feb 2014.
George Nickas, citing Fred Hoyle, endorses our view, 03 Aug 2013.
Did a hyper-black hole spawn the Universe? by Zeeya Merali, Nature News, 13 Sep 2013. "It could be time to bid the Big Bang bye-bye."
...Galaxies Had 'Mature' Shapes 11.5 Billion Years Ago by Janet Lathrop, U Mass Amherst (+ Newswise), 13 Aug 2013.
Discoveries from Planck May Mean Rethinking How the Universe Began, Newswise, 25 Jul 2013.
Higgs data could spell trouble for leading Big Bang theory by Zeeya Merali, Nature News, 16 Apr 2013.
'Nuisance' Data Lead to Surprising Star-Birth Discovery, The University of Chicago via Newswise, 13 Mar 2013. "These observations show the dust-filled galaxies were bursting with stars much earlier in cosmic history than previously thought."
Matthew Chalmers, "Cosmology: Out of the darkness" [html], pS2 v490, Nature, 11 Oct 2012. Cosmologists are in need of a new theoretical insight — a 'big leap'....
NASA's Hubble Spots Rare Gravitational Arc from Distant, Hefty Galaxy Cluster, Space Telescope Science Institute, 26 Jun 2012. "According to a statistical analysis, arcs should be extremely rare at that distance. At that early epoch, the expectation is that there are not enough galaxies behind the cluster bright enough to be seen, even if they were 'lensed' or distorted by the cluster. The other problem is that galaxy clusters become less massive the farther back in time you go. So it's more difficult to find a cluster with enough mass to be a good lens for gravitationally bending the light from a distant galaxy."
5 Jun 2012: Very young galaxies contain the heavy elements needed for life....
Michele Fumagalli et al., "Detection of Pristine Gas Two Billion Years After the Big Bang" [abstract], p1245-1249 v334, Science, 2 Dec 2011.
...A Star That Should Not Exist, Astronomy Picture of the Day, 7 Sep 2011. "Many models of star formation indicate that such a star should not even form."
Astronomers Discover That Galaxies Are Either Asleep or Awake by Suzanne Taylor Muzzin, Yale News, 20 Jun 2011. "The fact that we see such young galaxies in the distant universe that have already shut off is remarkable."
Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe...: Manjit Kumar reviews Roger Penrose's book for The Guardian, 16 Oct 2010. "Our universe is what I call an aeon in an endless sequence of aeons."
20 Dec 2010: Other cosmologists claim to see beyond the big bang.
12 Dec 2010: ...The existence of an aeon preceding our Big Bang is proposed by a pair of cosmologists | Rebuttal, 14 Dec 2010.
Toronto astrophysicists pretty much figured out origins of universe by Ian Brown, The Globe and Mail (Toronto), 4 Jun 2010. "We know the total matter content of the universe – it's 4 per cent. That's the stuff we recognize as matter, basically protons. The rest is something we don't understand."
Big Bang Theory Could Use Some Tweaks by Kevin Hattori, American Technion Society (also Newswise), 2 Jun 2010.
Does Our Universe Live Inside a Wormhole? by Phil Berardelli, ScienceNow, 9 Apr 2010. "Perhaps, Poplawski argues, we need to consider that something existed before the big bang that gave rise to it."
Our universe at home within a larger universe?, Indiana University (also Newswise), 5 Apr 2010.
6 Jan 2010: It doesn't accord with what we would expect theoretically or logically.
The Quasar That Built a Galaxy, by Phil Berardelli, ScienceNow Daily News, 1 Dec 2009. "It's 'an extremely important result if confirmed' and could lead to a new view of the early universe, says astronomer Christopher Reynolds of the University of Maryland, College Park."
A Blast From the Deep, Dark Past, by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, ScienceNow Daily News, 28 Oct 2009. "...Stars were already forming and dying a mere 600 million years after the big bang."
Study plunges standard theory of cosmology into crisis, EurekAlert!, 5 May 2009.
Galaxies grow fat on 'big blob' meals, by Eric Hand, doi:10.1038/news.2009.382, NatureNews, 22 Apr 2009. ...big enough to fly in the face of standard theories of galaxy formation, which propose that galaxies grow slowly over time....
Papers on Cosmology are recommended by Gabriel Manzotti, 20 Apr 2009.
Philip Campbell, "John Maddox 1925-2009" [html], p 807 v 458, Nature, 16 Apr 2009.
William Grimes, "John Maddox, Editor Who Enlivened Nature, Is Dead at 83" [html], The New York Times, 13 Apr 2009.
Chris A. Collins et al., "Early assembly of the most massive galaxies" [abstract], doi:10.1038/nature07865, p 603-606 v 458, Nature, 2 Apr 2009. Also see commentary by Eric Hand, "Early galaxies surprise with size" [html], doi:10.1038/news.2009.225, Nature, online 1 Apr 2009. "...It disagrees so radically with what the predictions told us we should be seeing."
23 Dec 2008: Maybe heat-loving prokaryotes are not the oldest form of life.
Anil Ananthaswamy, "Did our cosmos exist before the big bang?" [html], p 32-35 v 200 n 2686, NewScientist, 13 Dec 2008. "Instead of a universe that emerged from a point of infinite density, we will have one that recycles, possibly through an eternal series of expansions and contractions, with no beginning and no end."
Justin Willingham's reply points to a version of the article by Ananthaswamy mentioned above, 12 Dec 2008.
Martin Bojowald, "Follow the Bouncing Universe" [link], p 44-51 v 299 n 4, Scientific American, Oct 2008. "Quantum gravity theory predicts the universe will never die."
Jayant V. Narlikar and Geoffrey Burbidge, Facts and Speculations in Cosmology, ISBN-13: 9780521865043, Cambridge University Press, Jul 2008.
Big Bangs by the Bajillion? is the subject of an article recommended by Larry Klaes, 20 Sep 2008.
3 Jun 2008: After decades of effort, some scientists begin to despair of explaining the universe.
Old galaxies stick together in the young universe, The University of Nottingham, 4 Apr 2008. "The presence of such fully-evolved galaxies so early in the life of the cosmos is hard to explain and has been a major puzzle to astronomers studying how galaxies form and evolve."
Weak Lensing Distorts the Universe, Astronomy Picture of the Day, 30 Mar 2008. How does weak lensing affect the map of the CMB?
22 Feb 2008: All scientific theories are subject to revision. Is the big bang exempt?
Dmitri Novikov's reply prompts a brief restatement of our position, 24 Dec 2007.
Were the First Stars Dark?, re: work by Paolo Gondolo, The University of Utah, 3 Dec 2007. "The findings 'drastically alter the current theoretical framework for the formation of the first stars....'" Also see commentary by Phil Berardelli, ScienceNow Daily News, 4 December 2007.
Govert Schilling, "Space Sighting Suggests Stardust Doesn't Have to Come From Stars" [summary], 10.1126/science.318.5849.379a, p 379 v 318, Science, 19 Oct 2007. "...Astronomers have been baffled to observe healthy amounts of dust at a time in the universe's history when sunlike stars were still in their infancy."
Research Highlights, "Bigger Galaxies Earlier" [link], p 138 v 450, Nature, 8 Nov 2007. "...Contrary to some predictions, most of the early Universe's stars resided in large elliptical galaxies."
Cliff Burgess Fernando Quevedo, "The Great Cosmic Roller-Coaster Ride" [link], p 52-59 v 297, Scientific American, Nov 2007. "Could cosmic inflation be a sign that our universe is embedded in a far vaster realm?"
Peter Lynds, "On a Finite Universe with no Beginning or End" [abstract], arXiv:physics/0612053v3, arXiv.org, 3 Jan; and "A note on gravitational singularities" [4-page pdf], presented at the International Conference on Complex Systems in Boston, 1 Nov; and commentary, It All Began with an End – New Theory on Origin and Future of the Universe, Newswise.com, 1 Nov 2007. "There are no past or future cycles of the universe. It is one and the same."
Dark Matter Not a Done Deal?, by Phil Berardelli, ScienceNOW Daily News, 31 Oct 2007."...Modified theory of gravity, which they call MOG.... can explain the... behavior of more than 100 galaxies and more than 100 clusters... 'without the necessity of adding dark matter.'"
Cosmology 101, a NASA website.
Marc Mars, José M. M. Senovilla, Raül Vera, "Is the accelerated expansion evidence of a forthcoming change of signature?" [abstract], arXiv:0710.0820v1, arXiv.org, submitted 3 Oct 2007. "...Might simply be an indication that our braneworld is about to change from Lorentzian to Euclidean signature."
8 Oct 2007: Cosmology may look like a science, but it isn't a science — James Gunn
25 Aug 2007: The great obstacle ...was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge — Daniel Boorstin
The Dark Age Of The Early Universe Shorter Than Thought, SpaceDaily.com, 11 Jul 2007."Astronomers in the United States and France said Wednesday they had spotted galaxies which were formed just 500 million years after the 'Big Bang' that created the Universe, some 250 million years earlier than the oldest galaxy observed so far."
Forget the Big Bang Theory: Tom Ashbrook interviews Neil Turok, Alan Guth and Janna Levin, 31 May 2007.
Paul H. Frampton, "Cyclic Universe and Infinite Past" [abstract], arXiv:0705.2730v1, arXiv.org, submitted 18 May 2007. "We ...show that in infinite cyclicity the total number of universes has always been infinite, given an appropriate definition of time...."
Jenny Hogan, "Physicists question model of the Universe" [text], 10.1038/446709a, p 709 v 446, Nature, 12 Apr 2007.
Philip Ball, "Universe bounces back from the brink" [text], 10.1038/news070219-4, Nature, online 23 Feb 2007. "The theory claims to reconcile the notion of a cyclic universe... with the second law of thermodynamics."
Lauris Baum and Paul H. Frampton, "Turnaround in Cyclic Cosmology" [abstract], arXiv:hep-th/0610213 v2, arXiv.org, 5 Nov 2006. "A cyclic model is described, in which ....very many independent similarly small contracting universes are spawned."
Big Bang's Afterglow Fails Intergalactic 'Shadow' Test, University Of Alabama In Huntsville, 5 Sep 2006.
Martin Bojowald, "Cosmology: Unique, or not unique?" [text], 10.1038/442988a, p 988-990 v 442, Nature, 31 Aug 2006. "According to [Stephen Hawking and Thomas Hertog's] view, the Universe is a closed surface ...and has no beginning in time."
9 Jun 2006: Galaxies theoretically young look old.
Douglas Scott and J.P. Zibin, "How Many Universes Do There Need To Be?" [abstract], astro-ph/0605709, arXiv.org, 21 May 2006.
Paul J. Steinhardt and Neil Turok, "Why the Cosmological Constant Is Small and Positive" [abstract], 10.1126/science.1126231, p 1180-1183 v 312, Science, 26 May (online 4 May) 2006. "...We show that a cyclic model of the universe can naturally incorporate a dynamical mechanism that automatically relaxes the value of the cosmological constant...."
Penn State Researchers Look Beyond the Birth of the Universe, Eberly College of Science, Penn State University, 12 May 2006.
...Big bounces may make the Universe able to support stars and life, by Philip Ball, News@Nature.com, 4 May 2006.
When Branes Collide: Stringing together a new theory for the origin of the universe, Science News Online, 22 Sep 2001.
Ubiquitous galaxies discovered in the Early Universe, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 8 Mar 2006.
Paul J. Steinhardt, "The Endless Universe: A Brief Introduction" [pdf], p 464-470 v 148 n 4, Proc. Am. Phil. Soc., Dec 2004.
Dark energy enigma won't go away, by Stephen Battersby, n 2536, New Scientist [intro], posted on EurekAlert!, 25 Jan 2006.
Spitzer and Hubble find a 'big baby'` galaxy in the newborn Universe, Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre, 27 Sep 2005. "This galaxy appears to have 'bulked up' amazingly quickly."
A cosmic baby-boom, European Southern Observatory (ESO), 21 Sep 2005. "A team of French and Italian astronomers ...made the surprising discovery of a large and unknown population of distant galaxies observed when the Universe was only 10 to 30% its present age. These observations are challenging the current knowledge of the formation and evolution of galaxies."
Glenn D. Starkman and Dominik J. Schwarz, "Is the Universe Out of Tune?" [first paragraph], Scientific American, Aug 2005. "Observations of the 'music' of the cosmos mysteriously differ from theory. Either the measurements are wrong or the universe is stranger than we thought."
Did the big bang really happen?, by Marcus Chown, NewScientist.com, 02 July 2005.
Early Universe was a liquid, by Mark Peplow, News@Nature.com, 19 Apr 2005.
22 Apr 2005: Jeffrey Bada is optimistic about the origin-of-life problem.
Universe spawned stars at a young age, by Andreas von Bubnoff, New@Nature.com, 6 Apr 2005. "...Early galaxies were surprisingly heavy...."
Giant space-time ripples may cause cosmic expansion, by Maggie McKee, NewScientist.com, 2 Mar 2005. "There is a big embarrassment about what theory predicts and what we observe."
Most distant galaxy cluster yet is revealed, by Maggie McKee, NewScientist.com, 2 Mar 2005. "We would have thought characters [from so early in the Universe] would have been a bit more youthful. But this guy looks quite old."
Precocious supermassive black holes challenge theories, by Steve Roy, Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA, 22 Nov 2004.
Cosmic doomsday delayed, by Mark Peplow, News@Nature.com, 5 Nov 2004. Universe won't end for 24 billion years... probably.
Hubble's deepest shot is a puzzle, BBCNews, 23 Sep 2004. Intense ultraviolet radiation not seen where expected.
How old is the Milky Way?, Spaceflight Now, 17 Aug 2004.
Charles Seife, "Physics Enters the Twilight Zone" [summary], p 464-466 v 305, Science, 23 Jul 2004. "Parallel universes ...inevitable?"
8 July 2004: Big bang predictions are not upheld, according to two new reports.
Adrian Cho, "Galaxy Clusters Bear Witness to Universal Speed-Up" [abstract], p 1092 v 304, Science, 21 May 2004.
Robert Irion, "Surveys Scour the Cosmic Deep" [abstract], p 1750-1752 v 303, Science, 19 Mar 2004. "Simon White of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany, [says]: 'The simple recipes in published models do not reproduce the star formation we see. Theorists are now having to grow up.'"
J. Stuart, B. Wyithe and Abraham Loeb, "A large neutral fraction of cosmic hydrogen a billion years after the Big Bang" [abstract], p 815-817 v 427 and commentary by S. George Djorgovski, "Out of the Dark Ages" p 729 v 427, Nature, 26 Feb 2004. Because the data were unexpected, "Wyithe and Loeb have put a clever new twist on the interpretation of the quasar spectra...."
18 Feb 2004: Big bang revised again?
Dennis Overbye, "From Space, a New View of Doomsday" [text], The New York Times, 17 Feb 2004. "Something truly wierd is going on in the sky."
Robert Irion, "Early Galaxies Baffle Observers, But Theorists Shrug" [summary], p 460 v 303, Science, 23 Jan 2004. "Astronomers announced the discovery of a startling number of mature galaxies in the young universe."
Old galaxies in a young universe: Finding stumps astronomers, EurekAlert!, 5 Jan 2004.
Charles Seife, "Polyhedral Model Gives the Universe An Unexpected Twist" [abstract], p 209 v 302, Science, 10 Oct 2003. "The universe might be finite and 12-sided."
Was the Universe born in a Black Hole?, EurekAlert!, 16 Sep 2003.
Accelerating Universe theory dispels dark energy, by John Whitfield, Nature Science Update, 9 July 2003. "This could eventually lead to a more general theory for the evolution of the entire Universe."
Universe can surf the Big Rip, by Philip Ball, Nature Science Update, 11 Jun 2003.
Dennis Overbye, "...Cosmologists Debate — Well, Everything" [text], The New York Times, 29 Apr 2003.
2003, April 11: The Wall Street Journal looks at cosmology.
...Andrei Linde lauds the new era of precision cosmology, by Mark Shwartz, EurekAlert!, 2 Apr 2003.
Dennis Overbye, "Universe as Doughnut..." [text], The New York Times, 11 Mar 2003.
Phantom Energy and Cosmic Doomsday, by Robert R. Caldwell et al., astro-ph/0302506, 25 Feb 2003. "...Gravitational repulsion rapidly brings our brief epoch of cosmic structure to a close."
Lawrence M. Krauss and Brian Chaboyer, "Age Estimates of Globular Clusters in the Milky Way: Constraints on Cosmology" [abstract], p 65-69 v 299 Science, 3 Jan 2003. "...The three fundamental observables in cosmology—the age of the Universe, the distance-redshift relation, and the geometry of the Universe—now independently support the case for a dark energy-dominated Universe."
Young Universe gets busy, by John Whitfield, Nature News Service, 10 Jan 2003. "...They found the first, third and fourth most distant quasars known.... It's "amazing", that such objects formed when the Universe was so young...."
Black Crunch jams Universal cycle, by Philip Ball, Nature News Service, 23 Dec 2002.
Cosmic 'big crunch' could trigger an early demise of our universe, re: Andrei Linde and Renata Kallosh, by Mark Shwartz, Stanford University, 25 Sep 2002 (+EurekAlert, 13 Sep 2002). "Our part of the universe may die, but the universe as a whole, in a sense, is immortal...."
Manzotti — a reply includes comments from Fred Hoyle about cosmology, 30 Aug 2002.
The end of the universe in two poems, by Michelle Thaller, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Aug 2002. "Amazingly, astronomers are getting more confident that they actually can ...tell which fate awaits us."
...Our Universe is so unlikely that we must be missing something, by Philip Ball, Nature Science Update, 13 Aug 2002. "...Either space is not accelerating for the reasons we think it is, or we have yet to discover some principle of physics."
Chandra discovers 'rivers of gravity' that define cosmic landscape, newsrelease 02-190, NASA MSFC, 31 July 2002.
Life can go on forever: An accelerating universe does not have to fry life, by Philip Ball, Nature Science Update, 27 May 2002. "Even if the universe does turn out to be dominated by a cosmological constant,... we might figure out how to synthesize a new universe in a laboratory, set off a Big Bang, and move into it, abandoning our present universe as a lost cause."
2002, Apr 27: Could the universe have always existed?
End of the Universe Frozen in Time, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics press release 01-13, 10 Dec 2001. Describes work by Abraham Loeb accepted by Physical Review D [abstract].
Dennis Overbye, "Before the Big Bang, There Was . . . What?" [text], The New York Times, 22 May 2001. "The universe as a whole is immortal" — Andrei Linde.
New theory for the Big Bang, EurekAlert.org, 11 April 2001, from New Scientist, 14 April 2001. "Our Universe didn't really exist until another one bumped into it." Original paper: The Ekpyrotic Universe: Colliding Branes and the Origin of the Hot Big Bang, by Justin Khoury et al., last revised 15 Aug 2001.
Helge Kragh, Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe, Princeton University Press, 1996. This book gives a balanced treatment of the events that led to the dominance of the big bang theory.
Dennis Overbye, "From Light to Darkness: Astronomy's New Universe" [text], The New York Times, 10 April 2001. "The fact that the universe is ...puttering along rather gently suggests that there is something fundamental about physics and the universe that physicists still don't know."
James Glanz, "Photo Gives Weight to Einstein's Thesis of Negative Gravity" [text], The New York Times, 3 April 2001.
Astronomers find 'supercluster' of galaxies, quasars, by Paul Recer, Associated Press, in Nando Media, 9 January 2001. "That such a large structure could form so quickly after the Big Bang calls into question some of the traditional theories of how the universe evolved."
"Red Dots" May Re-Write The History Of The Universe, ScienceDaily.com, 3 January 2001.
Making Sense of Modern Cosmology, by P. James E. Peebles, Scientific American, January 2001."That the universe is expanding and cooling is the essence of the big bang theory. You will notice I have said nothing about an "explosion"—the big bang theory describes how our universe is evolving, not how it began."
Old Galaxies May Revise Theories of Galaxy Formation, SpaceViews, 19 August 2000.
Before the big bang (about work by Gabriele Veneziano of CERN), New Scientist, 03 June 2000.
2000, May 20: book review: A Different Approach to Cosmology, by Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge and Jayant V. Narlikar.
Andrei Linde, "The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe" [text], Scientific American, March 1998. "If my colleagues and I are right, we may soon be saying good-bye to the idea that our universe was a single fire-ball created in the big bang." Updates Linde's 1994 article (7).
Dreaming Distant Voyages, by Robert Matthews, SpaceDaily.com, 14 April 2000. New calculations based on Einstein's general theory of relativity suggest that wormholes large and stable enough to allow intergalactic travel really can exist.
1999, December 23: Lord Kelvin's address to British scientists, in 1871.
James Glanz, "Physicists Fret About Nothing" [text], The New York Times, 30 November 1999. "Scientists are reluctantly accepting the notion that something in the most fundamental theories of physics is terribly wrong."
1999, October 20: Can life last forever?
...Universe May Be Younger Than Previously Thought, perhaps "as young as 12 billion years, nearly the same age as its oldest stars. This... revives an old paradox... that the universe seems to be younger than some of the stars in it." NASA Newsrelease 99-58AR by Kathleen Burton, 24 September 1999.
Universe Size Not So Clear?: A new method of measuring distances to far galaxies casts doubt about the proclamation last week by NASA astronomers that they had determined the age and expansion rate of the universe, by Paul Recer, ABC News, 1 June 1999.
John Noble Wilford, "Hubble Telescope Yields Data for Recalculating Age of Universe" [text], The New York Times, 26 May 1999.
HubbleConstant.com: Information on the Hubble Constant, Cosmology, and the Size and Age of the Universe, from Science@NASA, 22 May 1999.
Stephen D. Landy, "Mapping the Universe," p 38-45, v 280, n 6, Scientific American, June 1999. "Several hypotheses have emerged, although none can yet be reconciled with all the data."
Robert P. Kirshner, "Supernovae, an accelerating universe and the cosmological constant," p 4224-4227, v 96, n 8, Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, USA, 13 April 1999. [abstract]
Chasing the Cosmic Fossil: FUSE Satellite Will Test Big Bang Theory, Johns Hopkins University News, 7 April 1999.
Big Bang Theory Challenged — Many Stars May Be Living Unseen from ScienceDaily, 22 March 1999.
James Glanz, "Cosmic Motion Revealed" — Astronomers peered deep into the universe and found that it is flying apart ever faster.... p 2156-2157 v 282, Science, 18 December 1998. [summary]
Proof Of Expanding Universe Most Important Of Year from UniScience News Net, Inc., 18 December 1998.
"New observations have smashed the old view of our universe. What Now?" A Special Report: Revolution in Cosmology — three articles in Scientific American, v 280 n 1 p 45-69, January, 1999.
At the University of Chicago, October 29-30, 1998, astronomers announced additional evidence reinforcing the accelerating expansion of the universe. See Runaway Universe Still Around by James Glanz in ScienceNOW, 6 November 1998.
John Noble Wilford, "In the Light of Dying Stars, Astronomers See Intimations of Cosmic Immortality" p B11,B16 The New York Times. 21 April 1998. Two groups of astronomers now say the expansion of the universe appears to be speeding up.
1997, October 30: The inventor of inflationary cosmology... reinforces the idea that the universe(s) may be eternal.
Eric J. Lerner. The Big Bang Never Happened, Vintage Books, 1992 (1st edition: Times Books, 1991).
Freeman J. Dyson, "Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe," [pdf], v 51 n 3 Reviews of Modern Physics, July 1979.
1. Walt Whitman, "On the Beach at Night", 1871.
2. See The Second Law of Thermodynamics, this website.
3. Steven Frautschi, "Entropy in an Expanding Universe" [abstract], doi:10.1126/science.217.4560.593, p593-599 v217, Science, 13 Aug 1982.
3.5. Mario Livio, Brilliant Blunders: from Darwin to Einstein, ISBN-10:1439192367, Simon & Schuster, 14 May 2013. p 157.
4. H.C. Arp, G. Burbidge, F. Hoyle, J.V. Narlikar and N.C. Wickramasinghe. "The extragalactic Universe: an alternative view," p 807-812 v 346, Nature, 30 August 1990.
5. Alan Lightman and Roberta Brawer, Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists, Harvard University Press, 1990. p 63.
6. John Maddox, What Remains To Be Discovered, The Free Press, New York, 1998. p 374-375.
7. M. Mitchell Waldrop, "Do-It-Yourself Universes," p 845-846 v 235, Science, 20 February 1987.
8. John Maddox, "The return of cosmological creation," p 11 v 371, Nature, 1 September 1994.
9. Andrei Linde, "The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe," p 48-55, Scientific American [pdf], November 1994. (For a full technical discussion see: Andrei Linde, Dmitri Linde and Arthur Mezhluman, "From the big bang theory to the theory of a stationary universe," p 1783-1826 v 49 n 4, Physical Review D, 15 February 1994.)
10. Hal Hellman, Great Feuds in Science, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1998. p 112.