Big Bang: Proof that the Universe is Expanding Page 2

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By Rahul Gladwin | July, 2000.

General Theory of Relativity:

Furthermore, sixteen year old Albert Einstein came up with the General Theory of Relativity in the early 1900's that shook the scientific world (Resnic 60). Einstein said that space and matter are interdependent. To come to this conclusion, Einstein developed an extensive system of equations that gave a comprehensive explanation of the universe from black holes to neutron stars (Watson 332). In fact, using his equations, Einstein had developed a nearly perfect theoretical model of the universe and amazingly, many of his predictions were tested and confirmed by scientists. For example, Einstein's famous theory about mass bending space was tested and confirmed during a total solar eclipse. Einstein himself, however, was not totally satisfied and believed that some his equations had a flaw because some of his results were totally inexplicable (Guth 27). He had discovered that for his equations to be held true, the universe must be either expanding or contracting. This was the first theoretical proof that the universe was not static (Taylor 47). This was completely absurd because it was never thought that the universe was dynamic. Therefore, he fudged a "cosmological constant" into his equations to make the Universe static; however, Einstein was too late. Alexander Friedmann, a Russian mathematician and meteorologist had already studied Einstein's equations and discovered that the universe was dynamic and that new the "cosmological constant" was a flaw (Resnic 63). A similar discovery was made by a Belgian priest Henri Lemaitre. The only thing that was left to do was to test and prove the theory of universal expansion on the basis of solid observational data.

Red Shift:

Further study of universal expansion was based on a concept called "red-shift". The concept had been speculated by the scientist Christian Doppler in 1842 (Gribbin 28). Doppler studied sound waves and discovered that when a sound emitting object was approaching us, its sound had a different frequency than when it was receding from us. The sound waves of an approaching object were at a higher frequency and shorter wavelengths, and each successive wave crest was observed by the observer a little earlier (Coleman 74). The sound waves of a receding object were at a lower frequency and higher wavelengths, and each successive wave crest was observed a little later. The changing of frequency in sound waves was called "Doppler Effect" in his honor. Doppler also theorized that these rules followed by sound waves may also be obeyed by light waves. In 1848, a French physicist had already shown that an object approaching us emitted a bluish light, and an object receding from us emitted a reddish light (Carnap 52). This is because blue light has a shorter wavelength and red light has a longer wavelength. Movement in space was observed as early as 1868, but it was not taken seriously at that time. Spectrum analysis was introduced by the chemist Sir William Huggins, who attached a prism to his reflecting telescope and discovered that the light of the star Sirius had moved slightly towards the red part of the spectrum (Born 61). The star was moving away from the earth at a speed of 26-36 mile/sec. In the 1920's, many astronomers, including Edwin Powell Hubble, were busy cataloguing galaxies and their distances from earth (Gribbin 52). As they worked they made the most bizarre discovery in the history of astronomy: the further away the galaxy, the more shifted its light was towards the red part of the spectrum; the galaxies appeared redder: they were moving away from the earth. This meant that the universe was expanding, but the astronomers needed more scientific proof to come to that conclusion.

Fleeing Galaxies?

Moreover, in 1929, Edwin Hubble with partner Milton Humason observed and studied hundreds of galaxies from the 100-inch telescope on Mount Wilson (Eddington 28). They found out that only about 20% of the galaxies were stationary or were approaching us, the rest were indeed fleeing away from us in all directions with tremendous speeds (Cupra 37). Hubble graphed the velocity of the galaxy versus its distance and found a straight-line relationship: V = Ho x D, where Ho is the Hubble's constant, V = the velocity and D = the distance. This relationship was called the Hubble's Law and it stated that the speed with which a galaxy recedes from us is directly proportional from its distance from us (Resnic 60). From looking at the graph, Hubble speculated that at some point back in time, the velocities of all the galaxies must have been zero. This thought provoked the development of the famous Big Bang theory of universal expansion (Bergmann 24). The theory states that the universe evolved from an extremely hot, dense and small lump of matter that exploded about 15 billion years and created space and matter as we see in today (Bergmann 26). Although the Big Bang theory set forth more important proofs about universal expansion than any other theory, scientists were still not completely satisfied. One of the most important speculations of the Big Bang theory was the constant emission of microwave background radiation from the universe (Weizascker 45). In 1940, George Gamov and his co-workers guessed that if the universe started with the Big Bang, the early universe must have been filled with intense radiation, which implies: the earlier we go back in time, the more dense was the radiation (Wolf 293). In the present time, this radiation would be the cooled left over residue of the explosion and should still be detected today. If detected, this radiation would be the most convincing proof of universal expansion.

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