Big Bang theory: Could ’Big Bounce’ simulations explain origins of the Universe?
The scientific consensus is an almost impossible amount of energy materialised apparently from nowhere approximately 13.8 billion years ago – the Big Bang. In an instant of speedy expansion, this energy burst inflated the Universe like a balloon.
The expansion flattened any large-scale curvature and created a Universe that appears to be flat.
Inflation doesn’t work as it was intended to work
Professor Paul Steinhardt
Matter mixed during this time, and formed a Universe that is mostly featureless.
And although clusters of matter have created the galaxies and stars, these remain a fairly small piece of the larger, cosmic puzzle.
The resulting inflation theory corresponds with all scientific observations made to date and is supported by the overwhelming majority of astrophysicists.
However, some researchers have found inflation problematic as it implies the rapid expansion of the Universe never ceases.
As a result, inflation is believed to produce a multiverse of universes, comprising an infinite number of cosmoses.
But there are some scientists who have come to criticise the theory, instead looking for alternate explanations.
Professor Paul Steinhardt, an original architect of inflation who swerved to become one of its most prominent critics, said: “Inflation doesn’t work as it was intended to work.”
Professor Steinhardt has been developing a different story of how our Universe arrived into existence.
Together with a host of other scientists, he has revived the idea of a cyclical Universe occasionally growing and contracting.
The researchers intend to replicate the flat and smooth Universe we see, without the issues associated with the Big Bang.
The researchers worked with scientists specialising in computational models of gravity.
After analysing how a collapsing Universe would transform its own structure, they found contraction can beat inflation.
And no matter how unusual the Universe may have appeared before it contracted, its collapse would have wiped out any primordial kinks.
Professor Steinhardt’s team imagine a Universe that expands for a trillion years, driven by elusive dark energy.
When this energy field eventually grows sparse, the cosmos starts to gently deflate.
Over billions of years, a contracting scale factor brings everything closer together, but not all the way down to a singularity.
The dramatic change comes from the Hubble radius – a spherical region of the Universe that we can observe – which rushes in and eventually becomes microscopic.
The Universe’s contraction recharges the energy field, which heats up the cosmos and vaporises its atoms.
A bounce then occurs, and scientists speculate it keeps the cosmic cycle starting over, and over again.
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