The Big Bang

The Birth of the Universe

Much controversy surrounds the Big Bang theory. First of all, if space is a giant vacuum, how can there be a big Bang as sound does not exist is space?

True to the nature of science, the majority of answers to the questions regarding the origins of matter have only led to more intriguing and complex questions. It seems to be inherent in our search for knowledge that questions will always continue to exist.

One of the most persistently asked questions has been: How was the universe created? Many once believed that the universe had no beginning or end and was truly infinite. Through the inception of the Big Bang theory, however, no longer could the universe be considered infinite. The universe was forced to take on the properties of a finite phenomenon, possessing a history and a beginning.

About 14 billion years ago a tremendous explosion started the expansion of the universe. This explosion is known as the Big Bang. At the point of this event all of the matter and energy of space was contained at one point. What existed prior to this event is completely unknown and is a matter of pure speculation. This occurrence was not a conventional explosion but rather an event filling all of space with all of the particles of the embryonic universe rushing away from each other. The Big Bang actually consisted of an explosion of space within itself unlike an explosion of a bomb were fragments are thrown outward. The galaxies were not all clumped together, but rather the Big Bang lay the foundations for the universe. The origin of the Big Bang theory can be credited to Edwin Hubble. Hubble made the observation that the universe is continuously expanding. He discovered that a galaxy's velocity is proportional to its distance. Galaxies that are twice as far from us move twice as fast. Another consequence is that the universe is expanding in every direction. This observation means that it has taken every galaxy the same amount of time to move from a common starting position to its current position. Just as the Big Bang provided for the foundation of the universe, Hubble's observations provided for the foundation of the Big Bang theory.

In addition to the understanding of the velocity of galaxies emanating from a single point, there is further evidence for the Big Bang. In 1964, two astronomers, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, in an attempt to detect microwaves from outer space, inadvertently discovered a noise of extraterrestrial origin. The noise did not seem to emanate from one location but instead, it came from all directions at once. It became obvious that what they heard was radiation from the farthest reaches of the universe which had been left over from the Big Bang. This discovery of the radioactive aftermath of the initial explosion lent much credence to the Big Bang theory.



Recreating the Big Bang

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, basically finds out what the Universe is made up of and how it works. The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was developed to carry out experiments which would recreate the events immediately after the Big Bang. The LHC is situated along the border between Switzerland and France approximately 100m below ground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles and the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe. Two beams of sub-atomic particles will travel in opposite direction inside the accelerator gaining speed with every lap they complete.

Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC. There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model of particle physics has served physicists well as a means of understanding the fundamental laws of Nature, but it does not tell the whole story. Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.

Could the Experiment have any Adverse effects?

Many scientists believe that the experiments should not proceed as nothing is actually known of the exact conditions following the Big Bang. Some even believe that a Black Hole could form resulting in the our planet's Demise. I guess it remains to be seen!