“Big Bang” — articles from scientific publications  –  Richard Peachey

I would suggest the following items from a variety of scientific publications that question aspects of “Big Bang” and “inflation” theory. (Only some of them are fully available on the web. The others can probably be accessed locally.)

(1) Published as “Modern Cosmology: Science or Folktale” in American Scientist, Sept./Oct. 2007, by Michael J. Disney, emeritus professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University (Wales):

In its original form, an expanding Einstein model had an attractive, economic elegance. Alas, it has since run into serious difficulties, which have been cured only by sticking on some ugly bandages: inflation to cover horizon and flatness problems; overwhelming amounts of dark matter to provide internal structure; and dark energy, whatever that might be, to explain the seemingly recent acceleration. A skeptic is entitled to feel that a negative significance, after so much time, effort and trimming, is nothing more than one would expect of a folktale constantly re-edited to fit inconvenient new observations.

(2) Published as “The Inflation Debate: Is the theory at the heart of modern cosmology deeply flawed?” in Scientific American, April 2011, by Paul J. Steinhardt:


Highly improbable conditions are required to start inflation. Worse, inflation goes on eternally, producing infinitely many outcomes, so the theory makes no firm observational predictions. . . .

“When all factors are taken into account, the universe is more likely to have achieved its current conditions without inflation than with it. . . .

“In light of these arguments, the oft-cited claim that cosmological data have verified the central predictions of inflationary theory is misleading, at best. What one can say is that data have confirmed predictions of the naive inflationary theory as we understood it before 1983, but this theory is not inflationary cosmology as understood today. The naive theory supposes that inflation leads to a predictable outcome governed by the laws of classical physics. The truth is that quantum physics rules inflation, and anything that can happen will happen. And if inflationary theory makes no firm predictions, what is its point?
(3) Originally published as “Bucking the big bang” in New Scientist, May 22, 2004, by Eric J. Lerner et al.

BIG bang theory relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities – things that we have never observed. Inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent. Without them, there would be fatal contradictions between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.

(4) Originally published as “Inflation on trial” in Science News, July 28, 2012, by Alexandra Witze:

” ‘The picture doesn’t really hold together, says Paul Steinhardt, a theoretical physicist at Princeton University. Either inflation needs a major overhaul or we have to think about some other approach to cosmology. In a paper posted online at arXiv.org in April, physicist Robert Brandenberger of McGill University in Montreal argues that scientists should continue exploring alternatives to inflation rather than just taking for granted that it’s right.”

(5) Published as “Which Way to the Big Bang?” in Science, May 28, 1999, by James Glanz:

“A special kind of scalar field, which owes its existence to a mysterious particle called the inflaton [sic] . . ., would have sparked the big bang. . . .

“Even so, there is no proof that inflation is correct; and, to add to the uncertainty, distinct versions of the theory have proliferated, as physicists grapple with the problem of finding an inflaton [sic] that could have produced the universe but is also compatible with known laws of physics. . . . As Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland puts it, ‘Inflation is a beautiful idea in search of a model.’

  “Or, rather, a single believable model. The theory now comes in varieties called old, new, chaotic, hybrid, and open inflation, with numerous subdivisions like supersymmetric, supernatural, and hyperextended inflation, each a vision of just how the inflaton [sic] might have touched off the birth of the universe we see today. In fact, there now exist so many approaches, with such a wide range of predictions, that a few cosmologists have suggested inflation could never be disproved by observation—a prospect Andrew Liddle of Imperial College in London calls ‘a bit scary.’ “

(6) Published as “Gravitational wave claim bites dust” in Science News, Feb. 21, 2015, by Andrew Grant:

“An elusive signal from the dawn of the cosmos is officially still elusive.

Galactic dust accounts for much of the signal that scientists interpreted as ripples in spacetime imprinted on the universe’s first light. A new study, by the BICEP2 team that claimed the discovery and scientists with Planck space telescope, nullifies a result that would have been the first direct evidence of cosmological inflation, a brief period after the Big Bang when the universe ballooned in size.”

(7) Published as “Guth’s Grand Guess” in Discover, April 2002, by Brad Lemley:

“Inflationary theory suggests that what erupted was a ‘false vacuum,’ a peculiar form of matter predicted to exist by many particle theorists, although the real article has never been observed. A false vacuum is characterized by a repulsive gravitational field, one so strong it can explode into a universe. Another peculiarity of the false vacuum is that it does not ‘thin out’ during expansion as, say, a gas does—the density of the energy within it remains constant even as it grows. . . .

“All matter plus all gravity equals zero. So the universe could come from nothing because it is, fundamentally, nothing. It is rather fantastic to realize that the laws of physics can describe how everything was created in a random quantum fluctuation out of nothing. . . .” [Earlier in the article, Guth was quoted as saying, “We no longer have to rely on stories we were told when we were young.“]

(8) Published as “The test of inflation” in Nature, April 16, 2009, by Eric Hand:

Yet for all its explanatory power, inflation has its problems. For starters, no one knows what did the inflating. Theorists describe the ‘force’ as a field and give it a name — the inflaton — but the mystery remains. It is the same frustration that bedevils astronomers studying dark energy, an unknown force that accounts for three-quarters of the energy in the Universe and still accelerates its expansion. Could the cause of inflation also be the driver behind dark energy? It is an interesting similarity, but they act on vastly different scales; dark energy is a flea to inflation’s elephant. ‘It seems unlikely that they’re related,’ says Turner. ‘Which is a good reason to pursue that idea,’ he adds impishly. A bigger problem for inflation, according to Paul Steinhardt, a physicist at Princeton University in New Jersey, is not so much what it is, but how it stopped. ‘Once it starts it never ends,’ says Steinhardt, who was one of inflation’s founding fathers in the 1980s, but is now one of its chief critics. There is no obvious reason why the ultrarapid expansion should ever slow down to the much more modest rates of expansion seen today.”