Big Bang

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(HOST) How did our thirteen point seven (13.7) billion-year-old universe get started? Commentator Ruth Page says that evidence for its birth in trillionths of a second is now at hand – to cosmologists who understand it.

(PAGE) We can all sleep easier in our beds tonight. In a declared Cosmic Triumph, our modern astronomers with their incredible ability to look far back in time have found their theory of how our universe began is probably correct. A special satellite has illuminated some details about the Big Bang theory, and given it some solidity. Science News says we now have the most detailed picture ever of the radiation left over from that Bang. It shows that our universe began with an incredible spurt of growth. It went from subatomic in size to grapefruit size in – get this – a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.

And that growth continued. You and I and our Earth and everything you can see in the sky on a clear night and every iota of anything visible to the assisted human eye started with that cosmic explosion. I rather like the idea. The birth of anything as vast as the universe should be spectacular. That spurt of growth instantly increased the tiny differences in the density of the cosmos. An artist’s drawing shows an oval of blue with red and yellow dots for accumulations of matter. White lines show polarization of the radiation, which they tell us led to the consequent massing of stars and galaxies.

NASA’s cosmic probe has been gathering data for several years, giving support to theories of how inflation arranged the vast universe. I’m delighted that the brilliant scientists who understand so much about the cosmos are happy, but, most of all, I love the idea that so much came from so little. Doesn’t it make it easier to accept evolution of all life on Earth from utterly primitive, minute scraps to dinosaurs and elephants and whales? No more can people say there’s no way bacteria can be, in a sense, our ancestors. Why not, if an invisible scrap can burst into what looks to us like an infinite Universe?

It wasn’t like blowing up a balloon, where initial paint-spots on the balloon simply move further apart as it swells. The cosmos didn’t swell at a constant rate, so there are variations in the density of matter, as you can see when you look at the massing of stars in the night sky. Michael Turner of the University of Chicago said, and I quote, “The entire cosmology community has been waiting for this, excited and worried.”

The new-learned facts also show what our universe is made of: just four point four percent ordinary matter composed of atoms; twenty-two per-cent invisible or dark matter; and seventy-four percent of something they call dark energy. As a layman, I can only grasp the idea of the four point four percent atoms; the rest sounds too mysterious. Maybe they’ll discover some details about dark energy and matter too, some day. We’d appreciate it, fellas. Oh, and the age of the universe? thirteen point seven (13.7) billion years.

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