Figure 13 and consideration of the points mentioned in Appendix 2 led me to examine this question. If the Universe were indeed expanding, would we be able to observe it in the way that most people probably envisage? Consider Figure 14. Each long, dotted arrow suggests how far light may travel in the time it takes galaxies to move outwards the distance represented by the solid black arrows. The proportions are not too important at this early stage of analysis, except that I have assumed that the galaxies would be moving at less than c to satisfy those who insist that this must be the case.
In the case chosen, which we shall assume for the time being represents a reasonable approximation to reality, light emitted by the galaxy at the end of the first arrow (left) cannot reach the galaxy to the right of the figure until it has moved more than two arrow lengths further. But that galaxy then has to move almost three and a half arrow lengths to intercept the light emitted at the end of the second arrow. Because the Universe shown is expanding from one point, the distance between all galaxies must increase; so it would appear form this initial analysis that we are constrained by what we can observe by the very fact of expansion, and we cannot observe the full extent of the Universe nor the actual rate of expansion. It has to be remembered that when the light is received near the middle of the sixth arrow (right) the other galaxy is also moving in the sixth arrow, but the light from it in this and other positions will never reach the other galaxy at its corresponding position, but further and further out as expansion proceeds. In Figure 15 the galaxies are closer together.
This time we see that light from the end of the third arrow now reaches the sixth arrow (right). We are still constrained to see galaxies in their earlier positions, but not quite to the same degree.
Figure 16 demonstrates that, with the same criteria, if we consider ourselves to be at position 6 it would only be possible to see just past the second arrow in the case of galaxies moving almost directly away from us, across the central region. (Read the figure as almost at right angles)
Light from the end of the third arrow would still not have reached us until we had passed position 6 (i.e. another billion years or so!) So, in this scenario, the extent of the observable Universe is approximately as indicated in Figure 17.
The broken line extent of observability, in the position shown, relates to the galaxy shown. The same extent, but moved round and overlapping will apply to any galaxy, provided that we are considering only the "inflating balloon" scenario, whereby all galaxies move out in unison to the same distances from the origin. The above analysis demonstrates why we would not see emptiness within the "balloon".
Please bear in mind that this illustration is not my interpretation of the observable and actual Universe. It indicates what would follow if certain aspects of an inflationary (Big Bang) Universe apply. It thus appears that expansion from a singularity, following the "inflated balloon" idea, at a steady rate, cannot be observed as such. It would appear irregular and uni-directional from one side of the galaxy only.
Some may say that space-time would be so curved as galaxies move out that we would actually see galaxies in the direction of outward motion. They see space-time as an entity, which I have made clear I do not agree with, and I think Einstein had doubts about; but even if light were curved in this way, the result is another illusion.
Also, if the rate of expansion were increasing, as is now thought, the effect illustrated above would be even more marked. It may appear that we would be able to receive radiation from the Big Bang as it is shown within the observable Universe, but applying the dotted arrows demonstrates why Figure 10 (Appendix 2) still applies. The only way that we could receive such radiation would be if something remained behind and continued to emit radiation long enough for galaxies to form and move out to positions where they could receive it. This source, however, located then at one end of the observable Universe, would not account for the observations of Penzias and Wilson, as confirmed to be approximately correct by COBE and WMAP, which showed the radiation to be coming uniformly from all parts of the sky.
The question now to be answered is whether the assumptions made in the above analysis can be expected to conform either with actual reality or with the reality assumed by supporters of Big Bang theory. In "The Universe in a Nutshell", Stephen Hawking suggests that the Universe has been expanding for 15 billion years; that the first galaxies were forming from about 3 billion years; and galaxies like our own were forming between about 5 and 10 billion years from the Big Bang.
It would appear from Wikipedia and other sources on the internet that the extent of the observable Universe (cosmic light horizon) is thought to be 13.7 billion light years, with the outermost limits of galaxies (which they think have moved further out since the light we see was emitted) estimated to be 47 billion light years. Wikipedia gives the co-moving distance (which I assume to be the diameter) as 78 billion light years, which is closer to the views of others who argue that 47 is too high.
It would appear that those who consider that the whole Universe can be that large are not aware of the illusion that my analysis has revealed. Although the above indicates that the observable Universe is probably smaller that the actual size, the latter could not be over three times as large. It is easy to fall into the trap, as I admit I have in the past, of thinking that we are near the centre of the actual expansion, observing galaxies which must then continue to move out for the length of time that it has taken their light to reach us. As I mentioned in Appendix 2, there is something illogical in the notion that we can look outwards away from the actual centre, so far that we see early galaxies forming!
The conclusion which follows from this is that it is far from clear as to what the age and extent of the Universe is actually considered to be. The Universe, in its considered entirety, has to be much older than 15 billion years. It would seem that it is not just the ignorant few like me who find the way this information is presented confusing. The following is a quote from an article by Stephen Battersby (New Scientist, 20/27 Dec. 2003/3Jan.2004, P.16):-
"Just 20 years ago, for example the universe was thought to be "somewhere between 10 and 20 billion years old". By January, the range had been whittled down to 12 to 15 billion. A few days later we got the real answer at last. The universe is 13.7 billion years old."
When, oh when, oh when, are people who talk about science and write about science, going to learn the lessons of the past and adopt a truly scientific approach!? When are they going to learn to define what they say and doubt what they say? What Stephen Battersby should, perhaps have said was that the observable Universe appears to be 13.7 billion years old, but if past experience is anything to go by, those who think so could eventually be shown to be considerably in error.
But even then the whole issue seems to be confused. If I have understood it correctly, 13.7 billion years is considered to be the length of time that light has taken to reach us from the earliest observable galaxies. Given that the observable Universe is thought to have been expanding at an average rate much less than c, the total age since the singularity has to be significantly more. It is clear that all that there is, we do not see, and all that we see, is not where we see it. This is clearly very "dodgy ground" to base an argument which is as assault on all reason! The number of galaxies apparently observed grows phenomenally at every improvement in our observational ability.
Consider the size of our own galaxy. Light takes 100,000 years, travelling at 186,000miles per second, to get across! Even words like "phenomenal" seem inadequate to describe the amount of matter and concomitant energy in our galaxy alone; and yet, because some claim to prove it mathematically, we are expected to believe that everything in the entire Universe, not just the observable Universe remember, came from a singularity. This is how Stephen Hawking puts it in "The Illustrated Brief History of Time":-
"Penrose's theorem had shown that any collapsing star must end in a singularity; the time-reversed argument showed that any Friedmann-like expanding universe must have begun with a singularity. For technical reasons Penrose's theorem required that the Universe be infinite in space. So I could in fact use it to prove that there should be a singularity only if the universe was expanding fast enough to avoid collapsing again (since only those Friedmann models were infinite in space).
During the next few years I developed new mathematical techniques to remove this and other technical conditions from the theorems that proved that singularities must occur. The final result was a joint paper by Penrose and myself in 1970, which at last proved that there must have been a big bang singularity provided only that general relativity is correct and the universe contains as much matter as we observe." (The italic emphasis is Hawking's)
As I have said, Stephen Hawking uses the word "proved" a lot, and it is unscientific to do so. He should say "the maths appears to prove", or better still "appears to verify". Nothing in science can be proved, and when we allow ourselves to think it we are in great danger of deceiving ourselves. People will fall about laughing that so many were duped into believing this aspect of the big bang in the 20th century, when they eventually realise that gravity has to have a mechanism which makes a nonsense of the whole idea of singularities.
I have, however, digressed slightly from the argument in question. Can we say that my analysis is based on what is actually thought to be the case, and is this likely to represent probable reality? The first problem is to determine just how fast the Universe is thought to have been expanding since the Big Bang. The first point, is that it is not thought to have been expanding at a constant rate. As I mentioned in Chapter 4, galaxies furthest away appear to be receding the fastest. The rate of increased expansion (Hubble's constant) is also subject to doubt and ideas on its value seem to vary considerably between about 50 and 80 km/sec/megaparsec, (a parsec is about 3.26 light years). But even here there would appear to be confusion. Some seem to argue that Hubble's law would be satisfied if the "balloon" were inflating at a steady rate, which Figures 14-17 indicate, albeit in a way that raises issues with other observation. But it now seems to be agued that because distant galaxies appear to be moving away the fastest, the Universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate. Perhaps I have been reading the wrong articles, but as the purpose of this analysis is to consider any and all ways that what we apparently observe can be explained, I shall continue on the basis that the actual rate of expansion has been increasing, although I am personally doubtful that the laws of physics can account for it.
The figure suggested by WMAP is 71 so I shall use that, subject to the possibility that it could well need further revision (or scrapping entirely if either of my ideas in this respect can be shown to be more logical). Hubble's constant, of course, relates to observational distance and apparent rate of recession from Earth, but if we are considering balloon-like (spherical) expansion form a central point, it can be shown that the rate of recession from us is the same (per unit of separation) as outward motion. This may be hard to visualise, but if you imagine an equilateral triangle, with one corner at the centre of the sphere and the other two corners at two galaxies on the circumference, it is clear that all three sides increase in length at the same rate. A little more thought confirms that this applies to all triangles because they remain "similar".
On this basis, after 3 billion light years from the Big Bang (920.25 Mpc) the first galaxies would be moving at 920.25 times 71 = 65337.75km/sec (0.218c) which is not that far from the length of my arrows. However, after ten billion light years the speed of recession is about three quarters the speed of light, 217791km/sec (0.726c), and after 15 billion light years the speed of light is exceeded at 326687 km/sec (1.09c). This is justified by Big Bang theorists by the idea that this is not motion through space but the creation of space; though what, if nothing and not nothing, permits this expansion is quite beyond me. Perhaps significantly, or just an amazing co-incidence, the speed of recession at 13.7 billion light years is very close to c (298374 km/sec = 0.995c). We can see how this changes the analysis above in Figure 18.
The dotted lines do not represent a light year or 300,000 km. They indicate how far light travels while galaxies move the distances represented by the solid arrows, which themselves cover millions or billions of light years.
What the above demonstrates is that if the Universe were expanding in the way that many would appear to suppose, we could not observe anything near to what would actually be happening. Galaxies would appear to be concentrated in a narrow band and some expansion could not be detected as it actually happens at all. Some would even appear to be receding from us towards the centre, because our relative motion away would be greater, or at right angles to actual motion as indicated. The Universe would not look the same in all directions and background radiation would seem to come from just one remote corner. So the balloon-like expansion to explain what we seem to observe does not seem to fit at all.
Before celebrating the demise of the whole crazy idea of the Big Bang, however, we have to consider if something other than balloon-like expansion could account for what we appear to observe. Suppose that galaxies continued to form in a "nursery" region near the centre as others were already moving well away from it. If our galaxy was emitted from this region later than many others, perhaps we would then see a universe which looked approximately the same in all directions and appeared to be expanding in all directions according to Hubble's law. This is considered in Figure 19.
This does look very complicated but soon simplifies with consideration. This time we do not consider just two galaxies moving out, each following Hubble's constant at the same distance from the centre, but galaxies at each point (1-7) moving at increasing rates with distance from the centre. I do not argue that this could happen because as far as I am concerned this would not obey the laws of physics until a force could be identified to cause the acceleration. The argument that space is being created, which I do not subscribe to anyway, could only apply to the first galaxies to be "born".
There would not, of course be galaxies only in the positions indicated, and they can be considered to extend well beyond the seventh arrow, though this represents galaxies moving at c and faster. The one at point 6 represents a galaxy at 13.7 billion light years from the centre, just about to move at c. The distribution shown is purely to facilitate analysis; there would be many more in reality (or rather according to observation, in respect of which great caution is required), but to show them would make analysis far too complicated. Once the general idea is established we can interpolate between and beyond to visualise what can and cannot be observed.
The first, quite tricky, question to consider is which position can we consider ourselves to be now. If, as Hawking and others seem to think, that we can look back in time by receiving light from the earliest galaxies to form, we could perhaps be either at point 6 seeing those between 1 and 0, or perhaps our galaxy is much younger and we see those moving in the opposite direction (at the top of the figure). If we were at positions two or three we would be able to see some galaxies moving away beyond the singularity, but our galaxy would then not be old enough to account for the fact that astronomers consider our galaxy to contain stars which are 14 billion years old.
Supposing then we consider position 6 (right) in more detail. We have to divide our attention between being able to see those galaxies to the left which emitted the light when we were back with them, and to what extent we could see those "born" earlier and later. In the former case similar considerations as before would apply but we would see many more galaxies in that direction because we could also see those born later. The extent to which we could see those born later would depend upon how much later.
There is now somewhat of a reversal in that the light from such galaxies in positions 1 to 4 will struggle to reach us, but those born before us and after us, both within certain limits will be visible. When we were at position 3, for instance, light emitted by a galaxy at position 6(left) will reach us now, just as we arrive at position 6 also. Light from one at position 7(left), however, would have to have been emitted when we were between positions 2 and 3.
What then if we look back along our line of motion. We would not see galaxies1-5 coming towards us but they would appear to be moving back (towards the singularity) because we are moving faster in the opposite direction, and the galaxy at 1 will seem to be receding much faster than 5. Looking out in the direction of 7(right), galaxies close by will have small velocities relative to us, which then increase as we look further out. So perhaps, although we could still only observe part of the actual expanding universe, the illusion would persist that we are somewhere near the centre of a universe expanding in some respects at least according to Hubble's law.
Supporters of Big Bang theories might be happy to settle for the case that they may have been fooled into the right basic answer by an illusion, but is this scenario actually workable? What about background radiation? The initial source of this, which would have to continue over a very long period to maintain the continuous production of galaxies, would be not at the centre of the observable universe but at one end. Galaxies produced at an even rate and distributed over the life of the Universe would surely result in an overcrowded appearance at one end of the observable universe and an open appearance at the other. So even this idea does not appear to fit.
In any event, could what I have described above really be considered to represent a true Big Bang theory? It would represent something closer to continuous creation. You cannot "run time backwards" as part of a logical or mathematical exercise to show that everything must have originated at the singularity at the same time. The whole basis for this as a "Big Bang" theory breaks down. A big bang is essentially an explosion which provides the reason for expansion. How do we explain something which carries on for billions of years? This would have to be a completely new theory involving a process which could be maintained over very long periods, generating matter and energy at a continuous steady rate from nothing. This then seems to be even less credible than the inflating balloon version.
A key consideration, which I think all of the above analysis demonstrates, is that we either see early galaxies as illusions caused by the extreme bending of space-time, if this is possible, with considerable doubt, therefore, as to their exact position and actual rate of recession, or they could only be observed in one particular region of the sky. Until I find that these scenarios have been considered I must argue that the Big Bang has not been thoroughly thought out.
The answer to all this is that Penrose and Hawking were wrong. Not being aware at the time of the mechanism by which gravity works, their conclusions about singularities were in error. Gravity requires rotational energy in quarks to sustain it and gravitational waves have to be emitted for gravity to work. There has to be a cut-off point beyond which contraction to a singularity cannot occur. This means grey holes rather than black, almost certainly in every galaxy, giving the results obtained by WMAP, a slightly mottled picture because of the "clumping" of galaxies and an excess coming from the centre of our galaxy, where there is thought to be a black (or grey) hole. Red shift could be either a consequence of a rotating Universe or frequency reducing with distance.
As for being able to observe very young galaxies, Stephen Battersby, reporting on the American Astronomical Society meeting in Atlanta Georgia in January (New Scientist 17 Jan 2004, p.14), drew attention to observations showing that galaxies in the "early" Universe look unexpectedly mature, very much like our own; and superclusters were observed where they should not have had time to form. This, of course, does not surprise me at all. The question is, how many such observations will it take before somebody other than me sees the Big Bang for what it is: probably the craziest idea to be held by scientists in the entire history of Humanity!Back to Main Page