Like we said, the Big Bang has never been popular in cosmology and is accepted only because the evidence supports it. No-Bang theories are a regular feature of the pop science media.
Did the universe begin with a hot Big Bang or did it slowly thaw from an extremely cold and almost static state? A physicist has developed a theoretical model that complements the nearly 100-year-old conventional model of cosmic expansion. According to the new theory, the Big Bang did not occur 13.8 billion years ago — instead, the birth of the universe stretched into the infinite past. This view holds that the masses of all particles constantly increase. The scientist explains that instead of expanding, the universe is shrinking over extended periods of time.
Shortly after the Big Bang, the universe was extremely hot and dense. Prof. Wetterich believes, however, that a different “picture” is also possible. If the masses of all elementary particles grow heavier over time and gravitational force weakens, the universe could have also had a very cold, slow start. In that view, the universe always existed and its earliest state was virtually static, with the Big Bang stretching over an infinitely long time in the past. The scientist from the Institute for Theoretical Physics assumes that the earliest “events” that are indirectly observable today came to pass 50 trillion years ago, and not in the billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. “There is no longer a singularity in this new picture of the cosmos,” says Prof. Wetterich.
To make it work, he postulates a “cosmon field”:
His theoretical model explains dark energy and the early “inflationary universe” with a single scalar field that changes with time, with all masses increasing with the value of this field. “It’s reminiscent of the Higgs boson recently discovered in Geneva. This elementary particle confirmed the physicists’ assumption that particle masses do indeed depend on field values and are therefore variable,” explains the Heidelberg scientist. In Wetterich’s approach, all masses are proportional to the value of the so-called cosmon field, which increases in the course of cosmological evolution. “The natural conclusion of this model is a picture of a universe that evolved very slowly from an extremely cold state, shrinking over extended periods of time instead of expanding,” explains Prof. Wetterich.
He thinks the Big Bang is still a useful model because it accords with predictions, but his model gets rid of the singularity and the nagging question of what existed before the Big Bang. So he suggests adopting both.
In short, instead of a singularity (which is what the Big Bang necessarily is), we must accept a hypothetical cosmon field. Of course “the nagging question” of what came before the Big Bang can also be addressed by pointing out that we must first determine whether there could be any evidence and how to find it. In the meantime, serious cosmology must be about what happened afterward.
See also: Unpublished Einstein manuscript defended no-Big Bang theory. But he apparently changed his vote later.
The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).
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