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The Big Bang Theory. Elizabeth Walsh. A Static Universe. In the early 1900s, the accepted view held was that the universe was static, which never changes; it has always been the same and always will Albert Einstein was one of the largest supporters of this belief

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the big bang theory

The Big Bang Theory

Elizabeth Walsh

a static universe
A Static Universe
  • In the early 1900s, the accepted view held was that the universe was static, which never changes; it has always been the same and always will
  • Albert Einstein was one of the largest supporters of this belief
  • When the idea of an expanding universe was proposed, Einstein spoke out: “This circumstance irritates me. To admit such possibilities seems senseless.”
hubble s discoveries
Hubble’s Discoveries
  • However, not everyone was convinced that the universe was never changing
  • In 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble, at the Mt. Wilson Observatory in California, found that the velocity of a star appeared to be proportional to its distance from the Earth
    • The further the star from the Earth, the faster it appeared to move away from the Earth
    • This concluded that the universe is expanding and the galaxies are moving away at high speeds
einstein s mistake
Einstein’s Mistake
  • Looking to gain a greater understanding of the universe, Einstein turned to his theory of general relativity- the current description of gravitation in physics
    • His surprising discovery found that the universe would have to be expanding and contracting
  • Hubble’s findings, paired with Einstein’s theory supported the idea of an expanding universe
georges lemaitre
Georges Lemaitre
  • Georges Lemaitre was a Belgian Cosmologist and Catholic priest
  • Used Einstein’s laws of gravitation as a basis to claim that the universe must be expanding
  • He published a solution to equations of general relativity in 1927 in regards to the expanding universe
  • Stated that the expanding universe was not static – but without evidence he had little support
  • His model soon became known as the “Big Bang Theory”
the big bang theory1
The Big Bang Theory
  • Combination of two approaches to the universe: astronomical and cosmological
  • Describes the development of the universe prior to its current existence
  • All matter and space in the universe was originally compressed into a tiny dot, called the singularity, which expanded and all the matter instantly filled what is now our universe
evidence for the big bang
Evidence for the Big Bang
  • Lemaitre used Hubble’s findings to support his theory
    • If the galaxies are currently moving forward, at one point they must have been all together
    • Once there was a primordial atom that contained all the matter in the universe
  • Lemaitre also used the concept of entropy - everything is moving towards greater disorder – to support his theory
following the discovery
Following the Discovery
  • Much debate followed his theory - some supported the idea while others chose to take on a “steady state” theory
    • The universe is constantly expanding, but the average density remains constant
  • Debate ended when Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson found evidence for cosmic background radiation – residue of the big bang
  • The expansion of the universe is now viewed as one of the greatest scientific discoveries
impact of the big bang theory
Impact of the Big Bang Theory
  • The Big Bang Theory sparked discussion and encouraged further studied into the universe
  • This theory is used as a way to estimate the age of the universe (within a large range)
  • It also lead to questions relating to the universe expansion – Will it expand forever? What happened before the big bang?

“Never in all the history of science has there been a period when new theories and hypotheses arose, flourished, and were abandoned in so quick succession as in the last fifteen or twenty years.”

  • Willem de Sitter, 1931
  • Big Bang Theory is Introduced. (n.d.). PBS. Retrieved February 26, 2014, from
  • Georges Lemaitre, Father of the Big Bang. (n.d.). Georges Lemaitre, Father of the Big Bang. Retrieved February 26, 2014, from
  • Strickland, J. (2008, June 18). How the Big Bang Theory Works. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from
  • The Expanding Universe (Cosmology: Ideas). (n.d.). The Expanding Universe (Cosmology: Ideas). Retrieved February 26, 2014, from