Do We Have the Big Bang Theory All Wrong?

All that Hans-Jörg Fahr wants is for someone to prove him wrong. A professor of astrophysics at the University of Bonn in Germany, he has taken a stand against nearly the entire field of cosmology by claiming that the diffuse glow of background microwave radiation which bathes the sky is not, as is commonly believed, a distant echo of the Big Bang, the universe’s fiery moment of creation. The idea held by the cosmology community that tiny temperature fluctuations in this microwave background tell us about the clumpiness of the early universe, he says, is wrong. The rank and file cosmologist may as well be doing Rorschach tests.

Understandably, his ideas have met with skepticism among many. Glenn Starkman, a professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, puts it this way: “If you seek to replace a successful theory with an alternative, then [you] must demonstrate that your alternative explains a similarly full range of phenomena… In this task [Fahr and his colleagues] have not done due diligence.” But at the same time, Fahr’s ideas are rooted in physics that has already been proven in other systems, and they make falsifiable predictions. Pressed to defend his controversial position, the

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus6 min read
Why I Traveled the World Hunting for Mutant Bugs: A researcher who works through painting tells her story.
When Chernobyl happened, I knew it was time for me to act. Nineteen years earlier, I had first drawn malformed and mutated flies while working in the zoological department at the University of Zurich as a scientific illustrator. Zoologists had fed po
Nautilus5 min read
Why Working-Class New Yorkers Drop Their “R’s”
In George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, professor Henry Higgins says: “You can spot an Irishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue. I can place any man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets.” British
Nautilus9 min read
Let’s Play War: Could war games replace the real thing?
In the spring of 1964, as fighting escalated in Vietnam, several dozen Americans gathered to play a game. They were some of the most powerful men in Washington: the director of Central Intelligence, the Army chief of staff, the national security advi