Big Bang: Proof that the Universe is Expanding Page 3

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By Rahul Gladwin | July, 2000.

Radio Astronomy:

Even though the supporters of the Big Bang model tried hard to detect such radiation from outer space, they couldn't because they did not have the technical capability to do it. Radio astronomers simply said that the radiation was undetectable (Guth 66). The idea of such radiation was completely forgotten until 1963 when it was unexpectedly discovered by two engineers who were trying to locate the source of static in an experimental radio receiver. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson from Bell Laboratories designed and built an antenna in order to study electromagnetic radiation (Wolf 297). The antenna, to be used for satellite communications, stood on top of Crowford Hill. It had a diameter of twenty feet and looked like a familiar radio dish. The system was designed in such a way that it collected microwaves from the sky, concentrated them at a point and transmitted the radiation into a small cabin at the bottom of the dish (Weyl 30). The two engineers found out that they received a constant background radio noise independent of the direction in which they pointed their antenna. They checked and re-checked all the connections and tried again. The process also included carefully cleaning the pigeon droppings that had accumulated in the antenna, but the noise did not go (Guth 23). They concluded that the noise was constant and it originated from outer space. This was one of the most successful predictions of the Big Bang theory and of universal expansion. Since then, there has been a rapid development of radio astronomy and numerous such telescopes have been developed throughout the world. The engineers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery.

Radio Telescopes:

Immediately, radio telescopes became a success among astronomers. Radio telescopes gave a completely different view of the universe (Taylor 44). Since radio waves can pass through dense clouds of gas they can travel a greater distance than light. Therefore, radio astronomers have discovered objects that were not possible to discover using optical telescopes. The brightest stars visible through the optical telescopes are not at all bright in radio telescopes because radio telescopes pick up noise, not light. Astronomers have discovered "galaxy-like" objects at tremendous distances from the earth. These objects are extremely far away, about 10 billion light-years; where one light-year is the distance travelled by light in one year at a speed of 186,000 miles/sec. No objects have been discovered beyond these, therefore, it can be concluded that they are at the very edge of space and time, and their light barely reaches us (Eddington 228). When astronomers look at such objects, called quasars, they are looking directly back in time and hence into the Big Bang itself. Quasars are barely visible in optical telescopes but are noisy enough to be detected by powerful radio telescopes because they release an immense amount radio energy as compared to that released by a normal galaxy. As we look 10 billion years back in time, the sudden outcome of the Big Bang is clearly visible (Bergmann 25). In 1950, Radio astronomers found more sources of very powerful radio emission. These were galaxies that were so far away that they were invisible to optical telescopes but showed up as noisy specks only in radio telescopes. This observation is a vital proof of universal expansion that happened from the Big Bang (Taylor 60). In 1990 and 1992, NASA discovered that the microwave radiation comes from the Big Bang itself (Taylor 26). After a rigorous analysis of the radiation, scientists found tiny vibrations in the waves that clearly suggest that they came from an explosion. The explosion caused from the Big Bang. This meant that the unverse was definitely expanding.

Microwave Radiation:

Another important proof about the expansion of the universe came from the relative movement of the earth through space with respect to the constant microwave radiation (Wely 29). The radiation is so static that it can be assumed to be fixed in the outer limits of the universe and it travels in one direction. This property has enabled astronomers to calculate the motion of the earth through space by observing the frequency of the microwave radiation based on the Doppler effect. As with all waves, microwave radiation seems to have a dipole variation since it has a maximum and a minimum when viewed from a 180o angle. For example, if we are listening to a sound emitting source directly in front of us, we observe that the waves hit us directly in the face. If we turn 180o and listen again, the sound waves will be receding away from us. Similarly, radiation appears to approach earth from one direction and recedes in the exactly opposite direction. Moreover, there is a Doppler shift caused by the movement of the earth in space. This proves that the entire universe is moving away from some central point. This was also one of the most important proofs of universal expansion from the Big Bang.

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