Age of the Universe

I recently attended a lecture on The Age of the Universe by 2006 Nobel Laureate John Mather.

In the lecture, Dr. Mather said that the cosmic background radiation mapped via COBE is about 13 billion years old and was emitted from the big bang about 300,000 years after t-zero.

(Please don't hold me to the numbers, I don't remember exactly what Dr. Mather said, so these are just ballpark numbers ... but they are good enough for the discussion below.)

It was a good talk, but on the way home I began to think.

The next day, I was lucky enough to talk to an astronomer connected to the James Webb Space Telescope which Dr. Mather had mentioned in the previous night's talk. I asked this astronomer some of the questions repeated below and explained the implications of this paradox. His response was that he would be doing some reading .....

At any rate, this page is an attempt to capture my thoughts for further discussion.

Basic Problem | Fast Expansion | Variable speed of light | Creation Wave Expansion | Matter Condensation

Basic Problem

If the cosmic background radiation really is 13 billion years old, and if it was emitted only 300,000 years after the big bang, why are we receiving it now?

The obvious answer is

That is a good argument ... until you realize that this background radiation is coming from every direction. Therefore, there is no direction that the Earth's location could move that can account for this time discrepancy.

This is the Big Bang creation paradox.

Fast Expansion

One (impossible) possibility is that in the first few seconds of the Big Bang, the Universe Expanded Faster than the Speed of Light.

That's right, for the universe to expand 10 billion light years in only 300,000 years would require traveling more than 30,000 times the speed of light.

To expand to that size in only a few seconds ... add more zeroes. (I think I'll pass on this theory.)

Actually, in one theory

the period of inflation responsible for the observable universe probably lasted roughly 10-33 seconds.
That's right, one of the better theories works ONLY if the expansion was much faster than the speed of light ... I'm still passing.

Variable speed of light

Assume that the universe expanded at one tenth of the speed of light. In this scenario, the radius of the universe would have been 30,000 light years when the light was generated. If we also assume that, at that time, light moved slower than it does today, and, as time passed, its speed increased - voila - that explains the paradox.

Yeah, I don't buy this one either.

Actually, I don't have a problem with the speed of light changing as the universe expands ... it actually makes sense, sort of (though it is just as logical for it to slow down).

However, for this to work, the edge of the universe would still have to travel faster than the speed of light ... because the speed of light was so much slower back then.

Creation Wave Expansion

Ok, this theory is totally out there.

The universe is infinite and has always existed at its current size ... but only as energy. At some point in this infinite expanse, there was a disturbance that expanded at many thousands of times the speed of light. The result of this super-lightspeed wave was to produce matter from energy (matter condensation).

If this theory is correct, then the Big Bang creation event is still happening (because the wave is still propagating).

There are a few problems with this theory

Actually, the expanding universe is easy to explain with this theory - if the original universe had a uniform energy density, then the stimulated creation of matter could be thought of as reducing the amount of free energy at the surface of this expanding sphere. This sudden reduction in free energy can be thought of as a type of vacuum that the rest of the universe is expanding to fill.

An obvious objection to this is that the space inside the universe's creation wave would have already had part of its energy converted to matter and that, therefore, its "pressure" would be equal to that at the surface of the surrounding sphere. However, there are ways to further modify the theory to account for this.

There are other possible scenarios that borrow heavily from a wave propagating down a cable. For instance, it is possible that the wave started with a lot of conversion capacity and that its capacity per unit area decreases as the creation sphere expands. (Think of a pulse with a fast rise time - at the other end of a long cable, the pulse will spread out and the slopes of the edges will decrease.) This type of wave might cause the rate of matter creation to start high and to get slower as time progresses. This would cause the ratio of mass to dark energy to vary as you get farther from the center. It might also mean that, even if the universe is infinite, matter condensed by the creation wave only reaches out to a certain point. After that, the wave could continue to propagate, but it would no longer cause matter to condense.

This provides a scenario with multiple creation events in different parts of the uniform energy cloud, and when residual waves that no longer have the power to condense matter pass through each other, smaller creation events can happen (like constructive interference).

One interesting consequence of this approach is that the creation wave does not have to travel faster than the speed of light - the cosmic background radiation was generated about 300,000 years after the creation wave passed those points in space. If the creation wave traveled at only one tenth the speed of light, then the visible universe could be over 100 billion years old. (Maybe a bigger telescope WILL be useful.)

Hey, I said that this idea was off the wall - but it would explain the Big Bang creation paradox.

It appears that the main problem with this is that the background radiation appears almost the same from every direction - exactly what you would expect from a spherical creation wave traveling through a uniform energy field. However, it is almost impossible for anything that large to be homogeneous (which is why the standard Big Bang theory requires a singularity). Thus, this theory disproves itself (or not).

If we assume that matter condensation did not occur at a single Big Bang event, but is actually still occurring at the surface of the creation sphere ... then why not assume that matter condensation is still occurring in the universe around us.

For instance, if a black hole produced a smaller creation wave, it might actually produce the matter in its galaxy.

Matter Condensation

All cosmological models start with energy and produce matter - I've chosen the phrase Matter Condensation to describe this process.

Most models are not clear on whether this process consumes energy, produces energy, or transforms energy between different types. I like the analogy to condensing water from vapor - this always releases heat (assumed to have a black body spectrum).

The current theories consider normal matter to be only a small part of the local universe - dark matter (unexplained gravity) and dark energy (unexplained expansion forces) account for 95% of the universe. If it is possible for matter to "condense" from say dark matter (catalyzed by the creation wave), then perhaps dark energy is released ... which could then cause the universe to expand (because, then the amount of dark energy inside the creation bubble would be greater than what's on the outside).

There are many ways to suggest something of this type. Maybe there are several types of dark matter. Maybe matter condensation consumes more energy than it releases, or it release a different type of energy. And so forth - we really don't know.

Most of the theories I've read don't discuss where dark energy and dark matter come from during the Big Bang - this theory says that they are a part of the initial conditions.

Author: Robert Clemenzi
URL: http:// / Age_of_the_Universe.html