- Our ideas about the history of the universe are dominated
by big bang theory. But its dominance rests more on funding decisions
than on the scientific method, according to Eric J Lerner, mathematician
Michael Ibison of Earthtech.org, and dozens of other scientists from around
- An Open Letter to the Scientific Community
- Cosmology Statement.org (Published in New Scientist,
May 22-28 issue, 2004, p. 20)
- The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical
entities, things that we have never observed-- inflation, dark matter and
dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would
be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and
the predictions of the big bang theory.
- In no other field of physics would this continual recourse
to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between
theory and observation. It would, at the least, RAISE SERIOUS QUESTIONS
ABOUT THE VALIDITY OF THE UNDERLYING THEORY.
- But the big bang theory can't survive without these fudge
factors. Without the hypothetical inflation field, the big bang does not
predict the smooth, isotropic cosmic background radiation that is observed,
because there would be no way for parts of the universe that are now more
than a few degrees away in the sky to come to the same temperature and
thus emit the same amount of microwave radiation.
- Without some kind of dark matter, unlike any that we
have observed on Earth despite 20 years of experiments, big-bang theory
makes contradictory predictions for the density of matter in the universe.
Inflation requires a density 20 times larger than that implied by big bang
nucleosynthesis, the theory's explanation of the origin of the light elements.
And without dark energy, the theory predicts that the universe is only
about 8 billion years old, which is billions of years younger than the
age of many stars in our galaxy.
- What is more, the big bang theory can boast of no quantitative
predictions that have subsequently been validated by observation. The successes
claimed by the theory's supporters consist of its ability to retrospectively
fit observations with a steadily increasing array of adjustable parameters,
just as the old Earth-centred cosmology of Ptolemy needed layer upon layer
- Yet the big bang is not the only framework available
for understanding the history of the universe. Plasma cosmology and the
steady-state model both hypothesise an evolving universe without beginning
or end. These and other alternative approaches can also explain the basic
phenomena of the cosmos, including the abundances of light elements, the
generation of large-scale structure, the cosmic background radiation, and
how the redshift of far-away galaxies increases with distance. They have
even predicted new phenomena that were subsequently observed, something
the big bang has failed to do.
- Supporters of the big bang theory may retort that these
theories do not explain every cosmological observation. But that is scarcely
surprising, as their development has been severely hampered by a complete
lack of funding. Indeed, such questions and alternatives cannot even now
be freely discussed and examined. An open exchange of ideas is lacking
in most mainstream conferences.
- Whereas Richard Feynman could say that "science
is the culture of doubt," in cosmology today doubt and dissent are
not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they have
something negative to say about the standard big bang model. Those who
doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding.
- Even observations are now interpreted through this biased
filter, judged right or wrong depending on whether or not they support
the big bang. So discordant data on red shifts, lithium and helium abundances,
and galaxy distribution, among other topics, are ignored or ridiculed.
This reflects a growing dogmatic mindset that is alien to the spirit of
free scientific enquiry.
- Today, virtually all financial and experimental resources
in cosmology are devoted to big bang studies. Funding comes from only a
few sources, and all the peer-review committees that control them are dominated
by supporters of the big bang. As a result, the dominance of the big bang
within the field has become self-sustaining, irrespective of the scientific
validity of the theory.
- Giving support only to projects within the big bang framework
undermines a fundamental element of the scientific method -- the constant
testing of theory against observation. Such a restriction makes unbiased
discussion and research impossible. To redress this, we urge those agencies
that fund work in cosmology to set aside a significant fraction of their
funding for investigations into alternative theories and observational
contradictions of the big bang. To avoid bias, the peer review committee
that allocates such funds could be composed of astronomers and physicists
from outside the field of cosmology.
- Allocating funding to investigations into the big bang's
validity, and its alternatives, would allow the scientific process to determine
our most accurate model of the history of the universe.
- (Institutions for identification only)
- Eric J. Lerner, Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (USA)
- Michael Ibison, Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin
- John L. West, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute
- Technology (USA)
- James F. Woodward, California State University, Fullerton
- Halton Arp, Max-Planck-Institute Fur Astrophysik (Germany)
- Andre Koch Torres Assis, State University of Campinas
- Yuri Baryshev, Astronomical Institute, St. Petersburg
- Ari Brynjolfsson, Applied Radiation Industries (USA)
- Hermann Bondi, Churchill College, University of Cambridge
- Timothy Eastman, Plasmas International (USA)
- Chuck Gallo, Superconix, Inc.(USA)
- Thomas Gold, Cornell University (emeritus) (USA)
- Amitabha Ghosh, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
- Walter J. Heikkila, University of Texas at Dallas (USA)
- Thomas Jarboe, University of Washington (USA)
- Jerry W. Jensen, ATK Propulsion (USA)
- Menas Kafatos, George Mason University (USA)
- Paul Marmet, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (retired)
- Paola Marziani, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Osservatorio
- Astronomico di Padova (Italy)
- Gregory Meholic, The Aerospace Corporation (USA)
- Jacques Moret-Bailly, Université Dijon (retired)
- Jayant Narlikar, IUCAA(emeritus) and College de France
- Marcos Cesar Danhoni Neves, State University of Maringá
- Charles D. Orth, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
- R. David Pace, Lyon College (USA)
- Georges Paturel, Observatoire de Lyon (France)
- Jean-Claude Pecker, College de France (France)
- Anthony L. Peratt, Los Alamos National Laboratory (USA)
- Bill Peter, BAE Systems Advanced Technologies (USA)
- David Roscoe, Sheffield University (UK)
- Malabika Roy, George Mason University (USA)
- Sisir Roy, George Mason University (USA)
- Konrad Rudnicki, Jagiellonian University (Poland)
- Domingos S.L. Soares, Federal University of Minas Gerais