Details for Article #5
2014-May-31 The Big Bang! (H. Chapman) Desc: The Birth Of The Universe
Article Details - Anglo-Indians (Rajasthan)
The Big Bang!
The Birth of the Universe

Artist's Impression of the Big Bang.

A strophysicists and cosmologists are going gaga over the latest evidence regarding the originating event of the universe, popularly and humorously referred to as the Big BangDetails. The evidence is the result of strenuous analysis of research findings from the BICEP-2 programDetails. The BICEP-2 program studied the nature of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiationDetails and detected trace variations consistent with the effect of gravitational waves that occurred at the time of the Big Bang. The findings were reported on the 17th of March, 2014.
The news of this breakthrough is all over the Internet but that isn't going to stop me from inflicting my two-bit version on you!
First things first, let's start with what we already know - astrophysicists and cosmologists - scientists who research on the origin and formation of the universe - have determined that the universe began about 14 billion years ago from a super-dense point source of matter and energy, sometimes referred to as the "Primeval Atom" or the "Cosmic Egg" or a singularityDetails. The originating event was a tremendous outburst of energy which we refer to as the Big Bang. The Big Bang produced massive radiation, trace remnants of which can be observed today as cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR).

A Map of the Cosmic Background Radiation as observed today.

The problem with the Big Bang hypothesis is as follows -
The CMB radiation should have been chaotically dispersed with wide variations in the strength and pattern of the radiation. However that does not seem to be the case. The CMB radiation is fairly uniform all over the cosmic horizonDetails.
To explain this aberration of observational data from that postulated in the Big Bang hypothesis another hypothesis was proposed - the inflation hypothesisDetails.
The inflation event (as proposed in the hypothesis) took place a fraction of a second following the Big Bang, and the inflation event lasted for a fraction of a second. (I could have said "in a blink of an eye" but that would have been w-a-a-a-a-a-y too long!) Anyway, the inflation event magnified the primeval universe patch 100 trillion, trillion times. After this inflation event the universe entered its expansion phase. The universe is still in the expansion phase and the rate of expansion is increasing.
The inflation hypothesis proposes that a small patch of the nascent universe was simply magnified trillions of times (1026 times, to be precise). The dispersion of the cosmic radiation in a small patch would be fairly uniform. Hence a magnification of that small patch would produce an equally uniform radiation pattern in the magnified version.
The problem was to prove the inflation hypothesis. Hmm, seems like we're back to square 1!
So we first need to prove the inflation hypothesis to prove the Big Bang hypothesis. Cosmologists came up with a way to prove the inflation hypothesis: prove that the CMBR is indeed the relic of the initial Big Bang cosmic radiation. Oh no! Here we go again!
So we first need to prove that the CMBR that we observe today is indeed a picture of the radiation during the Big Bang to prove the inflation hypothesis to prove the Big Bang hypothesis! (I don't know about you but my head's spinning already!)
So how do we prove that the CMBR is the relic of the initial Big Bang cosmic radiation?
Enter gravitational waves. And, pray tell, what are gravitational waves?
Wikipedia says:
In physics, gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime that propagate as a wave, travelling outward from the source. Predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein to exist on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves theoretically transport energy as gravitational radiation.
[Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
OK, so now we know what gravitational waves are. But how are they going to be useful in our attempt to prove that the CMBR that we observe today is actually a snapshot of the radiation field at the time of the Big Bang?
Well, it seems that the gravitational waves produced at the time of the Big Bang caused perturbations (or anisotropies) in the radiation spread pattern by polarizing the radiation in a distinct way. These perturbation patterns were predicted by computer modeling simulations. The key was to find evidence of these perturbations in the CMBR that we observe today.
The BICEP-2 program did just that!

Using ultra-sophisticated detectors the BICEP-2 team saw the tell-tale pattern called a B-mode curl in the present-day CMBR.
Hooray!Finally... (phew)!

In conclusion, the BICEP-2 findings prove that the observable CMBR is from the time of the Big Bang. This means that the Big Bang did take place as hypothesised. The peculiarities in the CMBR prove that the universe went through a period of inflation as proposed in the inflation hypothesis. Big smiles all around!

BOTTOM LINE: Physical cosmology (as distinct from religious cosmology and metaphysical cosmology) is the scientific research carried out concerning all aspects of the universe - its origin, its evolution, its structure, its nature, and its ultimate fate. Phenomenal developments in technology have laid bare the secrets of the universe with scientific validity.
However, we can safely say that physical cosmology is yet in its infancy. What we know of the universe is still based on presumptions and assumptions - a guessing game! These assumptions are verified and validated based on the extant technology. The limiting factor, then, is the technology that is used for scientific research, verification, and validation. So be prepared for newer findings as technology and humankind marches onwards!
It is worthwhile to read the following quotation by a Nobel Laureate:

The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote.
. . . Many instances might be cited, but these will suffice to justify the statement that "our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals."

- Quotation attributed to Albert Michelson in 1903.

Michelson is famous for being the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1907 and for being among the first to determine the speed of light; he is is also credited with designing the "Michelson-Morley" experiment which is used to this day.

We now know that this (Michelson's quotation above) is not a fact — a number of scientific "truths" of his time have been falsified by fresh discoveries since then. This constant revision of "truth" is the basis of science and scientific knowledge. Happens all the time. (Though some scientists have been known to be doggedly dogmatic about certain pet hypotheses!)

(1) The article attempts to break down the news item about the BICEP-2 findings for the non-Einsteinians among us. It is written somewhere between "The Epistemological Conjugate Of The Gamma-deviant Kleptobiogenesis of Phyllacetic Moribundity Among The Trypsomanic Shoe-flies" and "Mary Had A Little Lamb". Of necessity I have taken a few liberties with the technical specifics in the interest of keeping the article readable. And, yes, I do admit to the use of weasel words in this article (extending the same excuse as already mentioned in the previous sentence). The detailed explanations given below emphasise technical integrity over readability.
(2) I have included a brief list of links to other sites on the subject. These sites are completely independent of; I have no connection with the listed sites.

Detailed explanations

The Primeval Atom Hypothesis (a.k.a. The Big Bang Hypothesis)

Originally presented as "the hypothesis of the Primeval Atom" by Georges Lemaître, a Belgian cosmologist, in 1931, the Big Bang hypothesis was the very first hypothesis that postulated that the universe began from a super-dense point source of matter and energy (what astrophysicists call a singularity). The singularity was referred to as the "Primeval Atom" or the "cosmic egg" by Lemaître. Though we have no way of exactly proving this (as of now, 2014) but the general thinking is that the entire universe, both matter and energy, was compacted down to the size of an infinitely dense and infinitely hot pinpoint.
The Big Bang was a tremendous outburst of energy. We do not know for sure what the source of that energy was, or why the heck it suddenly decided to do what it did. Paleocosmologists (astrophysicist who specialise in researching the universe billions of years ago rather than today (or the recent past)) are scratching their collective heads over the how and the why of that initial outburst of energy. The most respected hypothesis regarding why the Big Bang occurred at all involves quantum physics. The intense density of the singularity ensured that classical ("standard") physics was not working. In fact, nothing what we call normal existed then - nope, not even atoms! Quantum mechanics has a concept known as "the uncertainty principle" a.k.a. the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Dark Energy was the stuff of the singularity, and the singularity throbbed with quantum fluctuations as explained by the Uncertainty Principle.
Lemaître had already presented his "expanding universe" hypothesis (1927) postulating that the universe was expanding. The Big Bang hypothesis developed out of the expanding universe hypothesis. Lemaître said that if the universe was expanding then it stood to reason that the universe must have been smaller in the past. Taking this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion Lemaître said that the universe must have originated from a point source, i.e. the Primeval Atom.
Both these hypotheses were received with extreme scepticism by the scientific community. The popular beliefs at that time were that of a static universe that was eternally old or a steady-state universe that was continually being regenerated. Einstein favoured the static universe hypothesis and Hoyle postulated the steady-state hypothesis. The scientific community of the time was split between these hypotheses.
The Big Bang hypothesis postulated that the universe began from the Primeval Atom and underwent a fairly linear expansion over time. The Big Bang lasted for a few seconds in which the Primeval Atom exploded like a nuclear explosion gone crazy, sending matter and energy flying through space in all directions. After those first few frenzied seconds things started to calm down and the expansion was linear.
The Big Bang also gave rise to gravitational waves (n.b. gravitational waves not gravity waves). Gravitational waves are waves of gravitational energy that radiated out of the Primeval Atom at the time of the Big Bang. The gravitational waves interacted with cosmic matter and energy to form the galaxies and other cosmic structures of the universe.
Trivia 1
How did the Primeval Atom Hypothesis get the familiar moniker "the Big Bang"?
Well, as it turns out one of the opponents of the Primeval Atom hypothesis, Fred Hoyle, a British cosmologist, was the first to use the phrase "the Big Bang".
There are two versions doing the rounds:
The first story says that Hoyle was being flippant about Lemaître's hypothesis and used the phrase in a disparaging fashion.
The other story says (and this is Hoyle's version, apparently) that Hoyle was not being flippant — that he actually thought that the phrase "the Big Bang" was an appropriate description of Lemaître's hypothesis. Hoyle denied that he was trying to disparage the Primeval Atom hypothesis by using the phrase.
Trivia 2
What did Einstein think of the Primeval Atom hypothesis?
When Einstein was first presented with Lemaître's hypothesis and the supporting calculations he told Lemaître:
"Vos calculs sont corrects, mais votre physique est abominable"
Meaning, "The math is good but your physics sucks!"
Later on, Einstein did come around to accepting the Primeval Atom hypothesis. Remember, Einstein had already conceived his own cosmogonical hypothesis that was based on a static, finite universe model. As it happens, Lemaître's hypothesis is considered more in line with Einstein's own theory of relativity as well as with most of the quantum physics of the day. On the other hand, Einstein's cosmogonical hypothesis is not supported by observable evidence nor by mathematical models. So, yes, Einstein got this one wrong!

The Amundsen−Scott South Pole Station

The Amundsen−Scott South Pole Station is home to a number of research projects and teams. These projects were set up at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to take advantage of, among other environmental factors, the near-absence of atmospheric water vapour there. The BICEP and Keck programs are two of these.
BICEP (or Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) has two versions — BICEP-1 (2006 - 2008) and BICEP-2 (2010 - 2012) with a third (BICEP-3) in the process of being set up for the 2014 - 15 Austral summer.
The BICEP project is a radio-telescope. It is an array of sophisticated electronic sensors (or detectors) tuned to a narrow band of microwave frequencies.
The BICEP project is a collaboration of a number of prestigious institutions in the field of astrophysics - the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Caltech, Cardiff University, University of Chicago, CEA Grenoble (France), University of Minnesota, Stanford University, National Institute of Standards and Technology, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and Case Western Reserve University. The BICEP project has received major funding and support from the National Science Foundation, the Keck Foundation, NASA, JPL, and the Moore Foundation.
BICEP-2 is an ambitious cosmological research program focussing on detecting signal patterns of scientific interest in the CMB radiation. BICEP-2 took readings in the 150 GHz range of the CMBR from a small swath of the cosmic horizon. The readings were carefully analysed by a team of astrophysicists. One team targeted the B-mode signal pattern in the CMBR. They discovered that the B-mode curl was indeed present in the CMBR at a level of r = 0.2 which was higher than the r = 0.11 expected. The results were astounding and they were considered reliable (6 sigma). The BICEP-2 readings are now undergoing peer scrutiny and the final result is being awaited.
Q: What does this mean - "a level of r = 0.2"?
Dr. Douglas Scott, Professor at the University of British Columbia, Physics Astronomy Department, explains it thus:
What you're talking about is the parameter usually called r, which is the ratio between two particular kinds of "lumpiness" in the Universe. More specifically, at early times (e.g. during the inflation process in the very early Universe), quantum fluctuations generated variations in density and also primordial gravitational waves. The ratio of the amount of fluctuations in gravitational waves to the amount in ordinary density variations is this quantity r.
The way to try to measure r is to look for tell-tale signs of the primordial gravitational waves, and the best way to do that is through the so-called "B-modes", which are a kind of "curliness" to the pattern of polarization observed on the CMB sky.
Different models for inflation give different values of r, and hence a measurement of r will potentially tell us something about the physics of the first 10-35 or so. No one really has a clue what to expect for r, but the results from the BICEP-2 experiment appear to give a higher value than seemed compatible with other (less direct) CMB constraints.   (via email, May 9th, 2014.)
Thank you for that excellent explanation, Dr. Scott! — HC.


Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

A Map of the Cosmic Background Radiation as observed today.

Astrophysicists started using radio-telescopes to scan space way back in the early 20th century. In 1964 two radio astronomers, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, discovered a faint radiation in the microwave range (peaking at 160 GHz) that was uniformly distributed all over the cosmic horizon. The radio-astronomers first attributed this faint radiation to "noise" in their radio-telescopes from internal circuitry or from earth-based radio and TV signals. However, research showed that the faint radiation was a "relic" of the massive radiation caused by the Big Bang about 14 million years ago. The major component of the Big Bang radiation was used up in the formation of cosmic structures; the unused part slowly dissipated to what we now observe as cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB or CMBR or relic radiation).
The thing that puzzled the astronomers was the uniformity of the radiation. Most of the cosmic matter and radiation that had been observed till then was unevenly distributed, and most of the radiation could be traced back to a localised source. Admitted that the faint radiation was from the time of the Big Bang, the question was: why should it be evenly distributed over the cosmic horizon? The radiation map should have looked something like this:

This uniformity was considered an aberration or an anomaly at first. Though I say "uniform", the radiation shows a signature pattern of "anisotropies" or variations. So it is more proper to say that the pattern of the CMBR is uniformly distributed. Moreover the variations in the pattern vary with the size of the region being observed and not with the locality of the region being observed.
The CMBR represents a uniform temperature of about 3°K. The average variation of temperature as represented by the CMBR is about 0.001%.

The Inflation Hypothesis

The inflation hypothesis was postulated by astrophysicist Alan Guth in 1980. It has since been modified by Andrei Linde in the early 1980's as the new inflation hypothesis and then as the eternally chaotic inflation hypothesis. For the sake of simplicity and brevity, the basic nomenclature 'the inflation hypothesis' applies to the composite hypothesis as proposed by both Guth and Linde. Linde's model of the inflation hypothesis provides the better-fit with observational data as compared to Guth's model; Linde's model has been able to explain many of the anomalies and discrepancies in most other cosmogonical hypotheses.
The inflation hypothesis states that the Big Bang produced a massive inflation of the universe. This inflationary phase started a split second (1 trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second or 10-36 seconds) into the Big Bang and lasted for a split second (1 billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second or 10-33 seconds).

The inflation hypothesis is loosely based on the "Primeval Atom" hypothesis of Georges Lemaître. The inflation hypothesis differs from the Big Bang hypothesis in postulating that the universe did not begin from a singularity per se. This is a big relief to cosmologists because it removes certain extreme conditions from the equation. If we go with the singularity hypothesis we would need to prove that all the matter and energy in the universe was indeed concentrated in a locus the size of a pinpoint; this means that cosmologists would have to prove that matter and energy did not exist exclusive of the singularity — an almost impossible task!
Guth instead proposed that:
(i) there was indeed a singularity, just as Lemaître postulated;
(ii) the Big Bang decided to happen, generating unimaginably powerful gravitational waves in the singularity;
(iii) the singularity exploded outwards - this took a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second - but in this infinitesimally short time it didn't spread too much (maybe just about a billion times), so the singularity was still pretty much homogeneous (a fancy way of saying "uniform in composition");
(iv) INFLATION! - this is where Guth proved himself to be an Einstein-class genius! - a small area of the nascent universe suddenly expanded exponentially! In other words, that small area of the nascent universe was simply magnified trillions of trillions of times (1026 times, to be precise) from its initial size within a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. The rest of the nascent universe that didn't inflate merged in with the inflated universe as a relatively inferior and insignificant portion.
Up to that time - there was no spacetime! Inflation created the spacetime continuum as we know it today. Wow!
Furthermore, this cosmic inflation took place in a single plane, spreading the universe out like a sheet of balloon-rubber all over the cosmic horizon. It was not the explosive expansion that we all imagine the Big Bang to be - matter and energy exploding in all three dimensions.
(v) The inflationary period lasted for just a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, give or take. After that the composite universe - the part that underwent inflation and the part that did not - continued expanding at a more leisurely rate. And here we are today with the universe at a, at a - yeah, what is the size of the universe today???
Here's what NASA says:
"So how big is the universe? No one knows if the universe is infinitely large, or even if ours is the only universe that exists."
Oh, great! That's a big help!
Wikipedia??? Wiki says: "The size of the Universe is unknown; it may be infinite."
Anyway, the observable universe is about 28 billion light-years in diameter. But given that the universe has been expanding as well, the scientific extrapolation computes the diameter of the universe to be approximately 90 billion light-years.
What makes the inflation hypothesis so special?
The inflation hypothesis irons out the wrinkles in the Big Bang hypothesis.
The Big Bang hypothesis is largely in agreement with Einsteinian physics regarding Special Relativity, General Relativity and current state-of-the-tech cosmological hypotheses. There are very few places where the Big Bang hypothesis becomes hazy and blurry and illogical.
The inflation hypothesis goes along with the consistencies of the Big Bang hypothesis; then it enhances the Big Bang hypothesis by removing the inconsistencies!
The beauty of the inflation hypothesis lies in its simplicity.
What are the inconsistencies of the Big Bang hypothesis that are specifically removed by the inflation hypothesis?
First of all, if the universe had exploded into being à la the Big Bang hypothesis then the universe would have been distributed along all three axes - it would have been shaped like a sphere. But it isn't shaped like a sphere - au contraire, it is flat! That's right, f-l-a-t, flat! A special NASA project has determined the curvature of space to within 0.4% of "flat" Euclidean!
So the first inconsistency is the flatness of the universe.
The inflation hypothesis explains the flatness of the universe by presenting a radically different mode of expansion from that envisioned by the Big Bang hypothesis. According to Guth, just a small area of the nascent universe was magnified almost instantaneously - magnified, as a slide is magnified by a slide projector, not exploded apart as in a nuclear explosion! For example, imagine you're holding a sheet of rubber (from a toy balloon) in your two hands, and then you suddenly pull the rubber sheet wide apart - that's how inflation happened!
By saying that the initial matter and energy was "stretched" apart we can understand the flatness of the universe.
The second inconsistency is that the universe appears to be (roughly) the same in all directions; there is a "uniform" distribution of matter and energy in the cosmic plane. This uniform distribution cannot be explained by a massive chaotic explosion as envisioned by the Big Bang hypothesis. The distribution would have tended to be anything but uniform! It could have been rippling outwards in ever increasing circles like the waves created by a stone falling into a quiet pool of water. Or it could have been all gathered up at the centre (at the point of the Big Bang) and shown a density gradient falling away from the centre. Or it could have been just the opposite of the latter case - the central region would be almost void of matter and energy, and the outer regions of the universe would have had a greater density.
The inflation hypothesis explains the uniform distribution of matter and energy by presenting the same argument used for the flatness inconsistency - a small area of the nascent universe was "stretched" apart resulting in an even distribution of matter and energy throughout the cosmic plane. [Please note: This uniformity of distribution is applicable for astronomically significant distances of galaxy scale.]
Thus the inflation hypothesis does not overturn the well-established Big Bang hypothesis nor does it modify the physics of the Big Bang hypothesis in any significant way. All it does it propose a difference in the modus of the expansion. Elegant and simple. The hallmark of quality and genius!
What are the mechanics of inflation?
The massive gravitational waves at the time of the Big Bang burst the singularity apart - this was before the inflationary phase - and created one huge fireball of matter and energy that expanded in all directions at a tremendous speed. It is proposed that the gravitational waves interacted with one another in a synergistic interaction, and that these synergistic reactions set off a massively cascading chain-reaction ("domino-effect") that produced an intense burst of high energy that was billions of trillions of times more powerful than the initial Big Bang explosion. That, and the fact that this intense burst lasted just a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second (give or take) had a shearing effect on the nascent universe - an effect that actually created spacetime, the fundamental framework of natural science and the universe!
As a "by-the-way" the universe expanded faster than the speed of light during the inflationary period!
What is the relationship between the B-mode curl of the CMBR and the inflation hypothesis?
The inflation hypothesis is a very good explanation of how the universe formed from a singularity - but only if it is true!
After all a hypothesis is only a hypothesis until its validity is proven. So scientists developed a test of verifiability for the inflation hypothesis. This test involves the presence of the B-mode curl in the CMBR.
The Big Bang and the inflation hypotheses postulate that massive gravitational waves and intense radiation were generated by the Big Bang. The gravitational waves caused variations in the radiation field. It is these variations in the radiation pattern that form the signature of the gravitational waves on the radiation field. Inflation expanded the radiation pattern right across the cosmic plane of the universe. The exponential expansion is what accounts for the uniform cosmic radiation pattern that is observable ever since the Big Bang. The strength of the radiation field has decreased over 14 billion years and is now observed as the CMBR.
Cosmologists and physicists know how gravitational waves propagate. Using that knowledge they predicted the exact pattern that would be imprinted on the radiation field by the gravitational waves — this pattern is called the B-mode curl.
This is the basis of the test of verifiability mentioned above. The test goes like this —
If the CMBR is uniformly distributed and if the CMBR is imprinted with the B-mode curl then it means that inflation did take place at the time of the Big Bang, thus proving both the Big Bang and the inflation hypotheses.
The BICEP-2 project did detect the predicted B-mode curl pattern in the CMBR. This means that the CMBR is indeed the relic of the radiation field generated by the Big Bang.
This proof of the inflation hypothesis is important for cosmologists and astrophysicists — this means that the current cosmological model can be used as a valid test-bench for other research about the universe.

Trivia 1
Prof. Linde (Stanford University), the developer of the eternally chaotic inflation hypothesis (in the '80s), the most widely accepted cosmogonical hypothesis at present (2014), had predicted the presence of B-mode curls in the CMBR as a specific effect of the inflation hypothesis. All attempts to discover these curls were fruitless to date. So when his colleague Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Kuo (also Stanford University) knocked at his door and announced the news of the discovery to him, Prof. Linde was unwilling to believe his ears! Watch his stunned reaction in this video...

Trivia 2
There are a number of variant Big Bang hypotheses out there as well as variant Cosmic Inflation hypotheses.
The most well-respected Big Bang hypothesis is the one described above (Lemaître) and the most well-respected Cosmic Inflation hypothesis is the one proposed by Linde.
Apart from these two hypotheses there are numerous cosmogonical hypotheses describing alternate models about the origins of the universe, the evolution of the universe, the fate of the universe, and the structure and organisation of the universe.
And then there are those hypotheses that are full-on pseudoscience …and worse!

Trivia 3
Curiously enough, the wheel has turned full circle with Prof. Linde (as well as Prof. Guth (Caltech)) proposing that there was no Big Bang at all!

...instead of being a single, expanding ball of fire ... the universe ... consists of many inflating balls that produce new balls, which in turn produce more new balls, ad infinitum. Therefore the evolution of the universe has no end and may have no beginning.

- Section: Inflationary Multiverse, Stanford U page on Linde

Sigh! I give up! Let me know when you guys have reached a consensus! I'll write another article then!


Cosmic Horizon

The cosmic horizon is the extreme limit of the observable universe with reference to an observer from any point of observation. Since the age of the universe is 14 million years it stands to reason that the furthest observable point will be 14 million light-years away, in any direction. Hence the radius of the cosmic horizon is 14 million light-years; in other words the diameter of the cosmic horizon is 28 million light-years. However, there are large areas of the universe beyond the cosmic horizon.

The Cosmic Singularity

The cosmic singularity is the term assigned to the very initial state of the universe before the Big Bang actually happened. This is described as an infinitely dense concentration of all the energy and matter of the universe. The infinite density by itself implies infinite temperature. The word singularity is used to imply that there was a single point source of the universe not a plurality.
The originator of the Big Bang Hypothesis used the term "Primeval Atom" instead of the singularity but that is a difference of nomenclature not of definition. To differentiate the cosmic singularity from other uses of the term in other contexts, it is sometimes more explicitly termed the initial singularity — again a difference of nomenclature, not definition.
Though there is no direct measurement available for this singularity, physicists say that it was smaller than the smallest particle known to physics (as of 2014).

Links to related topics

For more detailed information, visit the following sites:
News Item About Evidence of The Big Bang
AMNH page on Georges Lemaître
Catholic Education Resource Center
Stanford University page on Prof. Linde
Article by Alan Guth on The Big Bang
The NASA WMAP Project
Wikipedia article on the Big Bang
Wikipedia article on Gravitational Waves
Wikipedia article on CMBR album on the Universe page on the Big Bang

A side effect of the Big Bang Hypothesis in particular and cosmogony in general is the "religious" reaction. The present news event (the subject of this article) has rekindled that religious reaction. Since I have no intention of getting caught in the crossfire I'll just recommend the following links (and run for cover!):
Wikipedia article
School For Champions (Ron Kurtus)

Please note:
The sites mentioned above (and cited elsewhere in the article) are completely independent of; I have no connection with the listed sites.

Article compiled from various resources by H. Chapman

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