Before the Big Bang: Alternative theory discussed at lecture

Shae Bowman/Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 29, 2013

A group of approximately 50 students, staff and scientists gathered in the Elvey Globe Room Friday, Oct. 25, to listen to an informal lecture. Dr. Ted Newman, father of UAF’s Dr. David Newman, from the University of Pittsburgh hosted the lecture, titled “What came before the Big Bang.”

The lecture focused a new theory that addresses two cosmological questions that are asked by just about every person at some point; “Where did the universe come from?” and “how did the big bang start?” The lecture began at  3:45 p.m. and lasted for an hour.

Dr. Newman’s research focuses on  radiation theory, but he has followed cosmology over the years. He recently become more involved with the field of cosmology since the development of a new cosmological theory proposed by Roger Pentose about the origins of the universe.

Roger Pentose is a renowned theoretical physicist who recently published his theory in a book called, “Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe.”

Newman gave a broad overview of the new cosmological theory that has been proposed by Roger Penrose called conformal cyclic cosmology.  The theory proposes that the universe is in an infinite cycle. In this cycle there have been many eons. Each eon is identified by a big bang and has a complete universe in it.

“It is a relatively complete theory that takes you smoothly through the big bang.  It is completely classical and very close to most of the physics that we know. No radical ideas in it,” Newman said.

The exciting part about Penrose’s theory is that he has made several physical predictions that should be observable if his theory is accurate. One such prediction is that there are “families of circles” distributed all over the cosmological sky. These circles are raised or lowered variation in temperatures.

One team of scientists in Warsaw set out to set out to disprove Penrose and they actually ended up confirming Penrose’s prediction that there would be families of circles.

Penrose acknowledges that there are holes and weak points in the theory, however Newman pointed out “Even these weak points are arguable.”

Newman says of the theory, “I feel that it is the best theory for going through the big bang. I’m not a firm believer in it, but I do like it very much.”

The session ended with a several questions from the audience.

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