Scientific Evidence for a Beginning
The universe is not eternal
Discovery of the 1920's
Before the 1920s, most people believed that the universe did not have a beginning. People thought the universe was eternal. And few people ever thought that the sun would run out of fuel.
But in the 1920s, new facts from science made people question the standard view of the universe. At that time, a man named Edwin Hubble used the most distant viewing telescope in the world. He aimed at star systems with millions or billions of stars called galaxies. Almost all stars are part of a galaxy. We live in the Milky Way galaxy, which may have up to 100 billion stars. Hubble was the first man to know there were other galaxies beyond the Milky Way. He also grouped them together based on their shapes. And Edwin Hubble is given honor as the person who found out that galaxies exist.
The result of Hubble finding galaxies changed the way we view the universe based on how galaxies move. Hubble found out that most galaxies are moving away from each other at very high speeds. The further away a galaxy is from earth, the faster it is moving. Other scientists looked at the stars, reviewed the data, and agreed with Hubble. These findings led Hubble to think that the universe is expanding. It soon became a fact that distant galaxies move away from one another at very high speeds. This has been found true except for galaxies that are close together. When galaxies are close to one another, gravity pulls them together. Given enough time, these galaxies move toward each other at higher and higher speeds until they crash into each other. Have you ever witnessed two cars having a wreck? Imagine a huge star on the loose crashing into the sun. That would be the end of life on earth. Don't worry about that because it will never happen in our lifetime. In a few pages forward, you can look at some photos of galaxies crashing into each other.
Based on how distant galaxies move away from each other, new ideas about the universe came about. These ideas have been widely accepted by almost all scientists. The first new idea is that the universe is getting bigger as time passes. And the second idea relates to how far apart the galaxies are from one another. The most distant galaxies are moving away at faster rates than those not as far away. Or we could say the more distant galaxies are moving away at ever-greater speeds. This is called the Hubble constant.
So how did people accept these new ideas? New facts can cause a lot of change. And this turned out to be a big one.
Now dream with me. Imagine if you were to make a motion picture of all the galaxies moving apart from one another. As time passed by, the galaxies move further and further apart. After we have made the movie, we decide to rewind it and watch the galaxies as they move back in time to their dawning. We would see the galaxies moving closer and closer together as the movie approaches its beginning. Each large spiral looking galaxy would seem to split up into several smaller round baby galaxies. Then these small baby-looking galaxies would appear to dissolve into an extremely bright and extremely hot broiling soup. Our mouths would drop in awe as we watched the entire universe shrink into a small volume and disappear at the speed of light. We may even think that the whole universe came from nothing. Perhaps the easiest way of saying this is that the universe appears to have come from some type of gigantic energy release. This is where the idea of the so-called "BIG BANG" theory comes from. The fact that galaxies are moving away from one another supports the Big Bang idea.
What is so important about the Big Bang theory? By far, the most important idea is that it tells us the universe had a beginning. The universe began. And the universe will end.
However, at the very start of the Big Bang Theory, many intelligent people did not like the idea that the universe had a beginning. To question the Big Bang theory, some scientists came up with new ideas. These scientists "held onto the view" the universe did not have a beginning. This was called the "steady-state" universe. To make the "steady-state" universe look good; their idea had to account for the new proven facts such as the universe is getting bigger as time passes. To take this idea in account, these scientists thought that new matter appears as time passes. If this were so, the universe would look the same forever. As the galaxies moved apart, new matter would appear and create new stars and new galaxies. The new matter idea would make the universe appear to be unchanging as time passed. The universe would be eternal if this were true.
The "Big Bang" theory was thought to be false by people who accepted the "steady state" theory of the universe. To maintain the idea that the universe had a beginning, more facts were needed. A new finding in 1965 gave the Big Bang theory a new boost. This new finding and many others have made the Big Bang theory appear to be true. At the very least, the Big Bang theory may explain how and when the universe began. Let's review the other facts that support the Big Bang theory. I will give a title to the next five ideas that support the Big Bang Theory as noted below. To ensure you understand that science supports the universe had a beginning, it is suggested that read these in sequence.
- Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)
- Star Birth Rates
- Galaxy Birth Rates
- Nuclear Chemistry of the Big Bang Theory
- The Accelerating Universe
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Light came before the Stars