The Big Bang has an Echo … Echo … echo

The Big Bang has an echo, which is what you would expect from a “bang” that, blew creation into existence.

The elusive echo has finally been located in gravitational waves. The waves, which Albert Einstein first predicted in his General Theory of Relativity, were discovered with the use of a telescope at the South Pole.

What this means, among other things, is that the universe had a beginning, and that beginning was 13.7 billion years ago.

For a long time, scientists made the (at least to me) totally illogical assumption that the universe had no beginning. It just, according to them, always was. Even as a young child, I thought this thinking was daft.

It turns out that my young child intuition was, at least in this one instance, more accurate than the thinking of the big brains of earlier eras.

I think one reason why so many learned folk made this assumption was simply that the idea of a universe which had a beginning raised all sorts of questions that their world view didn’t allow.

That’s not science. It’s human nature, and every single one of us, including scientists, is a slave to human nature. We don’t see what we don’t want to see. Unless, of course, we have to.

The “have to” in this instance was the doppler effect, writ large. Just as a train whistle changes tone as it travels past us, so the light from stars changes color as it moves away. This simple bit of logic led to the realization that the universe, which had once been thought static, was moving away from us. It was expanding at great speed.

Computations based on this movement led us backwards to a point where the expansion began: The Big Bang.

The universe that always was became the universe that had a dramatic and sudden beginning. Existence exploded into existence.

Scientists have advanced all sorts of theories to try to explain away the implications of this Big Bang. Some of them have been quite fanciful.

But this discovery leaves those ideas flat. These gravitational waves are an echo of the Big Bang in much the same way that a tsunami is an echo of an earthquake.

The Big Bang happened. It is where everything, everywhere, came from.

The rest is religion.


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  • Theodore Seeber

    To be exact, we’ve just identified higher resolution data in a fingerprint of the Big Bang that was originally discovered in 1964.

    • hamiltonr

      … and, I might add, it’s a really big deal. :-)

      • Theodore Seeber

        And yet, my response on slashdot and my own blog was “1964 called, they want their news back”

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      “It was fifty years ago today….”

  • oregon nurse

    This will convince no one who doesn’t want to be convinced, e.g., the “show me the data” types. They are going to posit that the universe has been expanding and contracting over and over eternally.

    • hamiltonr

      Don’t worry. There is a creator. … in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God and through Him all things were made.

      He’s just given us brains that can unravel a bit of how He did it, and for some people, that leads to a bizarre hubris. Pray for them, that God will give them the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

    • abb3w

      I’m not aware how this data set would rule that out per se; contrariwise, positing such cycles seems non-parsimonious, especially given current astrophysics data suggesting a Big Rip rather than Big Crunch finale.

      Nohow, there was a short story by Don Sakers called “Cycles” back in the January 1985 Analog SF magazine that had a fun take on the subject. Worth tracking down if your local library has the back issues.

  • Ray Glennon

    In Episode 3 of the magnificent series Catholicism, Fr. Robert Barron presents one of Thomas Aquinas’ proofs that God exists – the Argument from Contingency. It is beautifully presented and you can see it here in this preview excerpt from the series titled, “What Christians Mean by God.”

    Interestingly, and directly related to the news about the gravitational waves, is something that Fr. Barron includes in the completed Episode 3 DVD that is not in the excerpt. After visiting the Vatican Observatory in Tucson, AZ, Fr. Barron says: “Here’s something about the Big Bang that’s interesting. Thomas Aquinas was a very honest philosopher. He said ‘I can’t prove philosophically that the world had a beginning in time’…and so he found other proofs to get to the existence of God. If he had known what we knew, he would have said it’s as easy as pie, proving that God exists. Once you say the world came into being in one Big Bang, it must have had a cause outside of itself. He was so honest he said ‘I don’t know that’ in the 13th century. If he knew what we know now, it would have been much easier.”

    So to have even more substantial scientific proof about the reality of the Big Bang makes Aquinas’ Argument from Contingency even stronger. Or perhaps the gravitational waves are another means of seeing God’s “back” as Moses did in Exodus 33:22-23: “When my glory passes I will set you in the hollow of the rock and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back, but my face is not to be seen.”

  • Kathleen

    I’m reading Kevin Vost’s bio of St. Albert the Great – Champion of Faith and Reason. There’s a quote from the middle of the 13th Century .. “The whole world is theology for us because the heavens proclaim the glory of God.” (BTW – Vost’s book is really good.)

  • LVA

    The person that promulgated the expansion of the universe, was the Catholic priest, Fr. George Lemaitre, a Belgian astrophysicist; Albert Einstein didn’t believe in it. This was not an explosion in was a great expansion. The term “Big Bang”, was coined by the English astronomer Fred Hoyle, who didn’t believed in the theory of Father Lemaitre, he derisively called it “Big Bang”. This expansion originates in a vacuum and creates space and time. Imagine that the universe was a deflated balloon smaller than the smallest particle, and that balloon contained within it all the raw material that will become the elements that make up the universe today. Such balloon was suspended in a void, a nothingness. Suddenly
    the balloon was inflated exceeding the speed of light, creating time and space occupying the void that contained it; and the matter within this globe spreaded inside of it, this balloon is still inflating today (expanding). This balloon contained the matter of which we are formed today. There is no a point in this globe, our actual universe, that you can point out as to its source, because all expanded at the same time. Think of a globe in which we fill it with a few grains of flour, that would be our matter, and then we quickly inflate the balloon which is the universe, the flour containing in it would be the matter of that universe and expand inside it with no point of origin. To an outside observer, it would be like watching a tiny balloon suspended in an infinite void, suddenly, in an instant, it inflates floating in the void, within which it is still expanding. We live inside that bubble, which is now our space and our universe. LVA