The big bang theory is the most accepted theory for the formation of the universe. The “big bang” is a misnomer because there was no explosion, but rather a rapid expansion. It is not known what existed the moment before the big bang, however the evolution of the universe from the first instant after the big bang and onwards is well understood. There is considerable evidence supporting the big bang theory, including the following observations:
- There is an abundance of light elements (hydrogen and helium) in the universe. This is as predicted by the big bang theory.
- The universe cooled as it expanded so that today the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation corresponds to a temperature of 2.7 K. This is consistent with scientists’ predictions of that an expanding universe would by now have cooled to a temperature in this range.
- The universe is expanding and the galaxies appear to be moving away from us at speeds directly proportional to their distance from us.
This balloon activity models the universe: once compact but now expanding.
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Did you know that gold is extraterrestrial? Instead of arising from our planet’s rocky crust, it was actually cooked up in space and is present on Earth because of cataclysmic stellar explosions called supernovae. Continue reading
Cosmologists and astronomers have found a discrepancy in the Hubble constant from opposite ends of the universe. Continue reading
Join CIFAR and the Ontario Science Centre on May 17, 2017 for a symposium that will take you on a journey to unravel some of the greatest secrets of the universe. Continue reading
Why did the Universe have such low entropy at the start? Are the laws of physics consistent across the multiverse? Can we see evidence of other regions of the multiverse? Sean Carroll discusses thermodynamics and the Universe. Continue reading
Can we see things travelling faster than light?
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Thanks to Prof. Geraint Lewis for input on earlier drafts of this video.
The expanding universe is a complicated place. During inflation the universe expanded faster than light, but that’s something that actually happens all the time, it’s happening right now. This doesn’t violate Einstein’s theory of relativity since nothing is moving through space faster than light, it’s just that space itself is expanding such that far away objects are receding rapidly from each other. Common sense would dictate that objects moving away from us faster than light should be invisible, but they aren’t. This is because light can travel from regions of space which are superluminal relative to us into regions that are subluminal. So our observable universe is bigger than our Hubble sphere – it’s limited by the particle horizon, the distance light could travel to us since the beginning of time as we know it.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Why does so much interesting stuff exist in the universe? Particle physicist Harry Cliff works on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and he has some potentially bad news for people who seek answers to these questions. Despite the best efforts of scientists (and the help of the biggest machine on the planet), we may never be able to explain all the weird features of nature. Is this the end of physics? Learn more in this fascinating talk about the latest research into the secret structure of the universe.
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