By Carmelo Amalfi
We are, according to big bang theory, travelling through space
and time, expanding with the universe like surfers riding a big
wave, or sultanas rising inside a cake mix.
Since everything, including stars and galaxies, planets,
sultanas even, is moving away from the big bang that created the
universe up to 14 billion years ago, it figures that if you
could rewind the cosmic clock, everything would meet back at a
point the size of an atom - the so-called singularity thought to
exist inside black holes.
What caused this ‘seed’ of matter and energy, time and space, to
expand into what we observe in space today remains a mystery.
Straightforward? Not for a growing number of scientists who
question the cosmological mainstream and accuse it of ‘fudging’
what cannot be confirmed through observational data.
University of WA physicist John Hartnett is one of these
scientists investigating alternative scenarios to how the
"We can't discount some of the incredible work that has been
done," he says.
"But some of the observational data to support the big bang is
Professor Hartnett is one of many scientists who feel debate on
alternative theories has been largely sidelined or shut down by
the dominance of the big bang cosmological model.
He says that the singularity at the start of the universe is one
of the biggest single problems with the big bang model.
"It's not a black hole, it has no event horizon, and it can't
start expanding because it is supposed to be a super stable
state of matter.
"There's an assumption that it somehow starts expanding. And
that when it starts we can use physics we know. You have to
start at 10 to the minus 43 of a second after the actual
expansion of the universe begins before you can start using
There is no physics to explain what triggered its existence.
Prior to the singularity, nothing existed in the ‘void’ around
it, not space, time, matter or energy. Scientists do not know
where it came from.
Another inconsistency is the cosmic microwave background
radiation discovered in 1964. The radiation, measured at 2.73K
or about minus 270C, is apparently the remnant glow from the big
In 1992, the NASA satellite COBE (or Cosmic Background Explorer)
discovered the ‘ripples’, or clumps of matter and energy, in the
background radiation. This was regarded as the clincher
guaranteeing the supremacy of the big bang theory.
The COBE results suggested the radiation had been produced in
the very early stages of the universe, about 300,000 years after
"But the background radiation is not in the background in all
galaxy clusters, which it should be if it comes from the big
bang event," Professor Hartnett says.
"Theories need evidence to back them up but a lot of the
evidence supporting the big bang theory does not stack up."
Some cosmic cracks in the big bang model:
In 2003, a survey of galaxy clusters using data from the
ROSAT X-ray satellite showed what seemed to be a huge
concentration of matter about 12 billion light years across.
A concentration of this size could not possibly have formed
during the time since the big bang nearly 14 billion years
ago. These clusters of tens to hundreds of thousands stars
also appear older than the universe.
In 2004, discoveries announced at the January meeting of the
American Astronomical Society showed that the universe looks
very similar billions of years ago to its appearance today,
contradicting the big bang idea that the universe looked
different in the past. Galaxies created 10 billion years ago
appeared to have a similar distribution of stellar ages and
spectrum of chemicals produced by stars as our present-day
galaxy. According to the big bang model, these galaxies
should appear much younger, with fewer heavy metals and
mostly young stars.
A fundamental problem with big bang theory is the weakness
of the gravitational force between stars and galaxies.
‘Dark’ matter - which has never been detected - is needed to
explain why so much of the universe (98 percent) is missing,
or cannot be seen
Although widely held as the dominant cosmological
theory, growing numbers of scientists are looking at
the unanswered questions behind the 'big bang'.