June 20, 2010


The Big Bang is super-ancient “history”, apparently some 13.7 billion years ago, give or take a few million years. The idea has appeared and grown to be an “accepted fact” in my lifetime. I’ve never quite accepted it. As the theory developed, I developed growing doubts.

I’m not at all qualified to challenge astrophysicists. I’m out of my field and out of my depth. But I wish that they would take another good look at one assumption which is essential to the whole big- bang theory.

The theory is based on the shifted color/frequency/wavelength of light from distant galaxies. The shift is always towards lower frequency and thus longer wavelength, red end of the color spectrum. Thus it is usually referred to as the red shift.

The amount of shift, at least for the “nearer” galaxies, is proportional to the distance from us. For very distant galaxies their distance is calculated from the measured shift of wavelength.

The shift of frequency is analogous to the shift we hear in a passing police siren or train whistle. It’s caused by the relative motion of the source of the sound and the observer. The phenomenon is known as the Doppler shift.

The big bang theory is totally dependant on this one assumption; the red shift observed from distant galaxies is Doppler shift; it is caused by the galaxies moving away from us. My question is this; is there any other phenomenon which might explain the red shift? If so, the galaxies may be at rest and there was no big bang.

Light has been studied intensively for a few hundred years. We certainly don’t understand it fully. It consists of tiny packets, photons, which are both particles and electromagnetic waves, as in radio and microwaves. It always travels at 300 million meters per second when measured by any observer. Supposedly it has no mass, yet it is deflected in its path by gravity.

Perhaps the red shift of light from other galaxies is Doppler shift, but are there any other possible explanations? All that is needed is some interaction with the environment through which it travels. It might interact with electric, magnetic, or gravitational fields in such a way as to lose energy to something in the space. It travels for billions of years before it reaches us. Is there dark matter between the galaxies, stealing energy from passing photons via gravitational, electric, or magnetic fields?

Personally, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the big bang theory. As it developed, it grew in complexity. When they threw in inflation to make the numbers fit, it looked like a desperate effort to rescue the theory.

As I say, it’s all beyond my limited and outdated knowledge of physics, but I’d like to see some discussion of alternatives to Doppler shift and the big bang. Please comment.


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