As New Scientist points out, it’s been fifty years since two Bell Labs engineers in New Jersey accidentally discovered the cosmic microwave background of the Big Bang, while investigating problems with antennae. (The theory dates back several decades earlier.) As noted earlier the Big Bang was not a popular discovery, principally because it was consistent with a theistic interpretation of the universe. The sheer number of crackpot cosmologies developed to get around it is voluble testimony to the human imagination.
The mag offers a look at six continuing questions about the origin of our universe, including,
3. Could ancient life have emerged in the big bang’s glow?
The CMB’s light comes from superheated gas, or plasma, that filled the early universe. This matter cooled with time to give rise to stars and galaxies, and today space is too frigid to host life as we know it on worlds far from their stars. But temperature readings of the CMB hint that a mere 15 million years after the big bang, the glow would have been warm enough to make the whole universe one large life-friendly zone. This epoch would have lasted a few million years, enough time for microbes to emerge but not complex life, Loeb suggests.
The idea that life might have got started around the time of the Big Bang has been floated recently (space was warmer then), mainly by Loeb. But some say it wasn’t warm enough soon enough. Sharov argues for 9.7 billion years ago (yes, well before Earth).
Note: There are, of course, respectable arguments against Big Bang cosmology. They tend to get all but drowned these days in “What if the universe is a hologram, or maybe a donut?”
See also: Big Bang exterminator wanted, will train
The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).
The Science Fictions series fingertips (origin of life)
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