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The simple answer is that no, the Big Bang did not happen at a point. Instead, it happened everywhere in the universe at the same time. Consequences of this include: The universe doesn't have a centre: the Big Bang didn't happen at a point so there is no central point in the universe that it is expanding from. The universe isn't expanding into anything: ...


83

There are quite a few common misconceptions about the expansion of the universe, even among professional physicists. I will try to clarify a few of these issues; for more information, I highly recommend the article "Expanding Confusion: common misconceptions of cosmological horizons and the superluminal expansion of the Universe" from Tamara M. Davis and ...


78

My view is simpler and observational. Observations say that the current state of the observable universe is expanding: i.e. clusters of galaxies are all receding from our galaxy and from each other. The simplest function to fit this observation is a function that describes an explosion in four-dimensional space, which is how the Big Bang came into our ...


75

We know that time passes differently for different observers, and the question is how can a time be given without telling which frame it is in. The answer is that there's a preferred reference frame in cosmology, the comoving frame, because of the fact that there's matter and radiation in it. Intuitively, the special frame is the one that's "static" with ...


73

“Observe” oftentimes causes a lot of confusion for this exact reason. It doesn’t actually refer to some conscious entity making an observation. Rather, think about how we actually make an observation about something. You have to interact with the system in some way. This can be through the exchange of photons, for example. This interaction is what ...


71

I'm not a quantum cosmologist, but I am an early-universe cosmologist, so I can give you my opinion after having read this paper. The article claims that Bohmian trajectories is a valid replacement for geodesics. This was claimed in the very beginning of the paper and not much is offered in the way of defense for this assumption. That's not to say that it's ...


71

Heavy elements couldn't form right after the Big Bang because there aren't any stable nuclei with 5 or 8 nucleons. Source: Wikipedia (user Pamputt) In the Big Bang nucleosynthesis, the main product was $^4He$, because it is the most stable light isotope: 20 minutes after the Big Bang, helium-4 represented about 25% of the mass of the Universe, and the ...


59

Beyond the fact that the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is a direct prediction of the big bang model, there is the question of how you would produce it in any other way. It is remarkably close to being isotropic and remarkably close to being a blackbody spectrum - i.e. it is almost a perfect blackbody radiation field. A blackbody radiation field is ...


52

Suppose you throw a ball up into the air. You could ask how the ball manages to move upwards when gravity is pulling it down, and the answer is that it started with an upwards velocity. Gravity pulls on the ball and slows it down so it will eventually reach a maximum height and fall back, but the ball manages to move upwards against gravity because of its ...


40

There are two parts to your question. First, why can we see things "46 billion light years away" if the Universe is only about 13.8 billion years old? Because the Universe is expanding. How far does a photon travel in 13.8 billion years in an expanding Universe? It depends on the rate of expansion. I'll give a simplified example to illustrate the point: ...


39

Magueijo came up with the variable speed of light idea nearly twenty years ago. The motivation was as a way of explaining the homogeneity of the universe. At that time inflation was still somewhat controversial (perhaps it still is) and Magueijo's theory was mainly intended as an alternative to inflation. Since then inflation has become more accepted and ...


36

In the case of a supernova explosion it is possible to create heavy elements through fusion. Supernovae have a tremendous amount of energy in a very small volume but not as much energy per volume as there was in our early universe. So, what is the major difference? Why didn't the Big Bang create heavy elements? I just want to point out, too much ...


35

You heard wrong. There were photons, electrons, protons, and neutrons before 300,000 years. And before 3 minutes! (And before there were protons and neutrons, there were quarks.) Before 300,000 years, the photons could not propagate freely; they were being constantly scattered by the charged plasma of protons and electrons. The universe was effectively ...


34

Yes, the expansion of space itself is allowed to exceed the speed-of-light limit because the speed-of-light limit only applies to regions where special relativity – a description of the spacetime as a flat geometry – applies. In the context of cosmology, especially a very fast expansion, special relativity doesn't apply because the curvature of the spacetime ...


33

Well, suppose that you're in the office and you go to the coffee machine. You notice that there is an incredibly tiny puddle of coffee left in the pot. The pot is almost completely empty, but it's not totally empty either. Why is this? One theory is that it could be a complete coincidence -- the pot was going to have some coffee level or other in it, and ...


32

An observer with zero comoving velocity (i.e. zero peculiar velocity). Such an observer can be defined at every point in space. They will all see the same Universe, and the Universe will look the same in all directions ("isotropic"). Note that here I'm talking about an "idealized" Universe described by the FLRW metric: $$\mathrm{d}s^2 = a^2(\tau)\left[\...


30

1. If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? The universe isn't expanding into anything. Space-time isn't curving into a higher-dimensional space. So what do we mean by "curved" and "expanding", words usually having a meaning only for objects in space? The answer is it is just an analogy. Mathematicians have found properties of space an ant ...


28

While this work certainly investigates an interesting point, I think simply replacing geodesics in GR with similarly looking quantum trajectories does not solve the issues here. Finding the Friedmann equations while assuming large-scale homogeneity and isotropy is no surprise to me. There are a number of people working on so-called Big-Bounce Cosmologies. ...


25

The answer is that we don't know. Why? Because the theory of gravity which we have and use, GR, has a singularity. Things which should be finite in a physical theory, like the density, become infinite. And theories with a singularity are simply wrong, they need a modification, and this modification is necessary not only at the singularity itself, but already ...


22

You are quite correct that we can't see what happened before the CMB (this time is known as recombination) but this is not unusual in Physics. For example we can't see what happens at collisions in the Large Hadron Collider. All we can see is the debris that comes flying out of the collisions. But we understand the physics involved so by measuring the ...


21

I work with stellar models, so I thought I'd chip in here. My instant reaction is that you shouldn't worry too much: determining the age of a star is difficult and different models will disagree (sometimes significantly!) on that age. How reliable is this research? I can't see an obvious reason to doubt the conclusion. What method do they use to ...


21

This is a common point of confusion, not only with regards to inflation, but any time an expanding universe comes up... The "cosmic speed limit" as you call it says that no particle or signal can move through spacetime faster than the speed of light. Spacetime is a very specifically defined thing, described with a coordinate system. There is no restriction, ...


21

Something the other answers don't really delve into is this: Space itself is what's expanding Let's think about a regular Newtonian Spacetime with zero expansion, borrowing Jim's example of a car on the road. You're sitting completely still, as is a friend you're following on a roadtrip, with about a hundred feet of distance between you. If I move towards ...


21

The big bang model$^{1}$ is an attempt to explain a host of observations that tell us how the universe evolved from its first fraction of a second onwards. It started off by being grounded in fundamental and rather well understood physics (General Relativity, particle physics and nuclear physics at relatively low energies). The model itself has evolved and ...


20

There's a very common misconception that the Big Bang happened at a point like a bomb going off. It doesn't help that almost ever TV documentary on the subject represents the Big Bang in this way. Explaining what actually happened is hard without going into the Maths, but here's an explanation I gave taken from (of all places) the Science Fiction Stack ...


20

This question is answered in detail by the so-called "Big Bang Nucleosynthesis", the theory about the creation of the nuclei in the early Universe. Almost out of nothing, it allows one to determine that 75% of the nuclear mass was coming in hydrogen, 25% in helium, and some small traces of lithium appeared, too. Even though Gamow used to think that all ...


20

The rough idea is that under the assumptions contained in the cosmological principle, the application of Einstein's equations leads us to the equation $$d(t) = a(t) \chi$$ where $d(t)$ is called the proper distance and $\chi$ is called the comoving distance between two points in space. $a(t)$ is the time-dependent scale factor, which is by convention set to ...


19

This seems to be a common misconception about the big bang. At present our theories can only suggest what happened AFTER the "bang". We cannot formulate what occurred AT the singularity with our current knowledge of physics. At a small neighborhood around a spacetime singularity quantum gravity becomes important and we simply have no clue at present how ...


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