New Theory Suggests the Universe Emerged From a Long, Cold Deep Freeze

Written by on February 5, 2014 in Earth & Space, Sci-Tech, Science with 0 Comments

George Dvorsky | Io9 | Feb 6th 2014

spaceConventional thinking has it that the universe and all the matter within it exploded out from a single point, the so-called Big Bang Singularity. But a German theoretical physicists says this never happened. Instead, the universe started empty and cold, slowly emerging from a deep freeze.

This isn't the first time a physicist has challenged the standard Big Bang model of cosmology by positing a Big Freeze sort of explanation. Back in 2012, scientists from the University of Melbourne and RMIT University argued that the early universe went through a dramatic transformation, or phase shift, in a manner similar to how a solid turns to a liquid.

But Heidelberg University's Christof Wetterich's theory is a bit different, and it's one that dovetails nicely off an earlier theory of his — the suggestion that the Universe is not expanding, it's just getting fat.

In his latest paper, Heidelberg says the universe sprung from a very cold and slowly evolving universe. Over the course of cosmic timescales, the masses of elementary particles slowly increased while the gravitational constant decreased. At the same time, Newtonian attraction remained unchanged. The result is what he's dubbing a simple three-parameter “crossover model” without a Big Bang Singularity.

Writing in Science News, Gabriel Popkin explains more:

This logic leads to a cosmic history in which the universe still underwent inflation but did not necessarily continue expanding. And instead of starting with a Big Bang, time before inflation could stretch into the infinite past.

No measurement can prove whether particle masses have stayed constant because it is only possible to measure the ratio between different masses, not masses themselves. For instance, all masses on Earth are ultimately referenced to a standard kilogram sitting in a vault in France. So Wetterich's picture is akin to saying that instead of the universe expanding, the ruler with which we measure it is shrinking, says Niayesh Afshordi, an astrophysicist at the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada.

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