Monday, August 17, 2009


Time interviews Brian Clegg about his book Before the Big Bang. Interesting. But he's apparently not read his Bertrand Russell: positing a God behind it all just pushes the mystery back a notch, it doesn't solve anything.

Still, it's a natural and reasonable (if not quite intelligible) question: "What came before the Big Bang?"

In your book, you describe the Big Bang theory as having "the feeling of something held together with a Band-Aid."

Scientists will often portray the Big Bang as if it were known fact, but it isn't. It's a theory within a very speculative field of science, cosmology, which is about as speculative as it gets. I'm not saying the Big Bang theory isn't true, but it's a work in progress.So what are some of the theory's major flaws?

There's an expectation that the Big Bang should have produced a rippling effect, almost like an aftershock, where we could see subtle variations in gravity that have carried on ever since then. A lot of money has been spent on experiments to try and detect these gravity waves and they literally have never, ever found anything. Even if they do exist, they're probably not at levels we could detect. And why did it happen at all? There is no sensible answer for the Big Bang unless you move over into the religious side and say, "Well, it began because God began it." That's why quite a lot of scientists are nervous about the Big Bang. They quite prefer having something that doesn't require somebody sort of poking a finger in and saying, "Now it's starting."

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