Big Bang Cosmology James Webb space Telescope

At Reasons.org: Do the James Webb Telescope Images Show the Big Bang Didn’t Happen?

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Astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink provides an updated analysis:

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is just starting to reveal images of the universe never seen before. The amazing clarity of this new telescope will help scientists better understand how the universe developed from the big bang until now. However, one claim based on some of the early images generated controversy, and quite a bit of publicity. Specifically, physicist and science writer Eric Lerner argued that the JWST shows the big bang didn’t happen! Let’s unpack that claim to see how to respond.

Reasons.org

Eric Lerner’s Plasma Cosmology
Eric Lerner’s claim is nothing new. In fact, he articulated his claim 30 years ago in his book The Big Bang Never Happened: A Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe! Instead of gravity driving the large-scale dynamics of the universe (as in big bang cosmology), Lerner’s plasma cosmology has electromagnetic forces dominating. According to Lerner, if plasma physics governs the formation of galaxies, stars, and all the features of the universe, the universe would have no beginning. And Lerner asserts that the big bang add-ons of dark matter and dark energy are unnecessary in his model.

As one might expect, the scientific community responded by acknowledging and addressing both the data Lerner used to argue against big bang cosmology as well as the evidence used to support his model. For one example of such a response, see this analysis by a colleague of mine from UCLA. Though last updated back in 2003, the criticisms of Lerner’s cosmology still apply today.

How Does JWST Impact the Discussion?
Lerner’s recent statements argue that the new JWST images refute the big bang and match the predictions of his plasma cosmology. However, we need to exercise caution. The strongest evidence for big bang cosmology arises from observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation (by COBE, WMAP, Planck, and others) and from measurements of the distance/redshift relationship obtained by observing galaxies throughout the universe. None of the JWST images impact this evidence!

First, JWST was not designed—and has no capacity—to observe the CMB. Second, JWST was designed to investigate distant galaxies at high redshift to study their properties. None of the current JWST data undermines the copious evidence that redshift systematically increases with distance. JWST has found some distant galaxies that are larger and more developed than expected in many big bang models. Lerner claims these galaxy observations invalidate big bang models while matching predictions of his plasma cosmology.

Is the Big Bang Dead?
One should remember that these types of discrepancies occur rather frequently in science. For most of the 1970s, 80s, and into the 90s, astronomers couldn’t even agree whether the universe was closer to 10 billion years old or 20 billion years old because different measurement techniques gave different ages! During my scientific career, I have read published papers with star dates older than the age of the universecosmic structures too large to form given the universe’s age, and measurements showing the CMB as too smooth to form stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies. Interestingly, that last item was part of the evidence that prompted Lerner to develop his alternative cosmology model. Yet, in every example just listed, further research by the scientific community resulted in a better, more precise understanding of big bang cosmology.

Other times, resolving one inconsistency leads to a previously unknown discrepancy. For example, we now know that the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Calculations based on the redshift/distance relationship provide that age of 13.8 billion years, but an analysis of the CMB ripples gives dates closer to 12.5 billion years. Given the copious evidence in support of big bang models, scientists welcome these discrepancies since they provide useful direction for future research to understand our big-bang universe in more detail!

One Final Thought on Alternative Models
Scientists routinely produce alternative models like Eric Lerner’s. Even with the tremendous experimental success of general relativity, a number of scientists favor a different approach known as MOND, where they modify Newtonian dynamics. Often MOND and GR (general relativity) calculations can both explain the data produced by observations of the universe. The fact that MOND solves the dark matter or dark energy problem by making them unnecessary makes MOND attractive to many scientists. That solution comes at the expense of MOND not providing a mechanism for explaining why gravity works. General relativity provided that mechanism as arising from the curvature of spacetime. Thus, for most scientists MOND introduces a larger problem than it solves.

Lerner’s plasma cosmology suffers a similar problem. Even if plasma cosmology predicted the CMB as well as the galaxy shapes and clustering and evolution with equal proficiency to big bang cosmology, it offers no workable explanation for the well-established redshift/distance relationship. Big bang cosmology provides a simple explanation—the universe is expanding.

The latest JWST images don’t justify the enormous attention Lerner’s model has recently received in the public sphere. Yet, Lerner’s plasma cosmology deserves a place at the table of models trying to explain our universe. Science advances when theory matches observation.

Full article available at Reasons to Believe.

Hannes Alfvén, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1970, for his work on plasma magnetohydrodynamics, affirmed that galactic-scale magnetic and electric fields affected the structural organization of matter (plasma). While plasma effects most likely play a role, the role of gravity as understood by the tightly confirmed theory of general relativity, appears to be dominant. As Dr. Zweerink emphasizes, discrepancies between theory and observation provide motivation for refinement of both.

4 Replies to “At Reasons.org: Do the James Webb Telescope Images Show the Big Bang Didn’t Happen?

  1. 1
    relatd says:

    I question this:

    “None of the current JWST data undermines the copious evidence that redshift systematically increases with distance.”

    A man named Halton Arp worked with Edwin Hubble. Hubble himself was unsure that redshift was a measure of distance. He did not offer an idea of what else it could be. Arp discovered low redshift objects in space along with high redshift objects.

    https://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Red-Redshifts-Cosmology-Academic/dp/0968368905

    https://www.amazon.com/Catalogue-Discordant-Redshift-Associations-Halton/dp/0968368999/ref=pd_lpo_1?pd_rd_i=0968368999&psc=1

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    Relatd,
    Years ago, I read Halton Arp’s book, Seeing Red. His observations were dissonant with the leadership within the community of astronomers and academics, so they were able to prevent him from using major telescopes as punishment.

    If I remember correctly, he observed the “fingers of God,” where many galaxies seemed to have a lozenge shape, ALL OF WHICH MYSTERIOUSLY POINTED TOWARD THE EARTH!

    Dr. Arp had the disrespectful insolence to claim that these galaxies were actually spherical and that the red-shift calculations were off. He also pointed out that even on the cover of an Astronomy magazine, that what appeared to be two binary stars due to their tell-tale gases between them, were presumed by their red-shifts to be much too far from each other to be a binary system.

    Thus, he had to be punished for his heresy.

    His book was fascinating but very poorly edited. However, I was saddened by the scientific intolerance of those in power.

    Reminds me of the racist idiocy paralyzing much of the biological sciences.

    -Q

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    of related note:

    Stephen Meyer: No, the Big Bang Hasn’t Been “Disproven” – September 7, 2022
    Excerpt: I was much more interested to hear what philosopher of science Stephen Meyer, author of Return of the God Hypothesis, had to say about the same viral story in a conversation with podcaster Frank Turek. The two ask, “Has the Big Bang Been Disproven?”
    The answer is no: observations so far from the Webb Space Telescope have strengthened the case for a cosmic beginning, as Meyer shows, not weakened it. He explains why science writer Eric Lerner and his “pet theory” about the Big Bang are wrong. It’s much more persuasive to say so, lucidly and soberly, without trashing other people as “serial deniers” or pushers of “pseudoscience.” I highly recommend Dr. Meyer’s detailed discussion of why, yes, the universe began with a “bang.”
    https://evolutionnews.org/2022/09/stephen-meyer-no-the-big-bang-hasnt-been-disproven/

    HAS THE BIG BANG BEEN DISPROVEN? | WITH STEPHEN C. MEYER – Sept. 2, 2022
    https://crossexamined.org/has-the-big-bang-been-disproven-with-stephen-c-meyer/

    How Science Stopped Backing Atheists and Started Pointing Back to God | Opinion
    Stephen Meyer – 7/14/22
    https://www.newsweek.com/how-science-stopped-backing-atheists-started-pointing-back-god-opinion-1724448

  4. 4
    relatd says:

    Wow.

    “How Science Stopped Backing Atheists and Started Pointing Back to God” Prior to Darwin’s book, scientists who were considered great acknowledged God. Now, today, it appears that the enforced censorship of a discredited theory is losing its grasp. Since it is so deeply entrenched, and relies on a common tactic of God deniers – it has been repeated for so long that generations of people accept it – the truth is coming out. However, supporters will continue to promote the theory, discredited as it is.

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