The Big Bang
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 93 15:44:24 PST
Subject: The Big Bang
From: dss@Eng.Sun.COM (Daniel Steinberg)
From: elvis (M. Burtch--Zealot)
> Hate to bring up this sore subject again, after the way I was
> ridiculed, castigated, and excoriated last time I asked this question
> (remember the grooves in a record?), but some of you scientist types
> tell me: does the following statement (more or less quoted from a
> Mercury News item yesterday) not contain a physical impossibility?:
> Within a fraction of a second of the Big Bang the universe was [x]
> light years across.
> I mean, a light year is the distance light travels in a year, isn't
> it? So how could anything, let alone the whole universe, expand
> faster than light?
> Or am I missing something basic here, again?
No, Dave, you're not crazy at all, although you do have a piece of
pastrami hanging off your beard. (This is normal for men in your age
What you have to remember is that the universe of the first few
microseconds after the Big Bang was as different from the world we know
as the last Republican National Convention. Very simply, the basic
fabric of the universe -- rayon -- did not exist!
During the first few seconds after the creation of the universe, the
normal laws of physics did not obtain. (By "obtain," we mean "hold,"
but "obtain" has more letters.) In the superdense, infinitely small
universe, there were no subatomic particles, such as protons, gluons,
tetons, sprayons, and the like. In fact, the very laws of nature such
as Newton's laws of motion, Boyle's Law, and the Right-On-Red rule did
not exist either, because sufficient time had not passed for the
universe to cool to the point that particles could group themselves to
form the scientists necessary to formulate these laws.
Consequently, in the first few seconds of the universe, anyone around
to do the viewing would have seen fish flying through acetone, water
flowing uphill, moss growing on rolling stones, and attractive golf
clothes. Plus, one could have witnessed light travelling faster than
the speed of light -- because there was no light back then, and, in
fact, no such thing as "speed," "distance," "velocity," "ATMs,"
"Nintendo," or "MTV." The universe consisted entirely of a barren
wasteland of Pet Rocks and AMC Pacers.
So, it is possible for the universe to have expanded at a rate that is
conceptually impossible today for anyone but Jose Canseco. This
phenomenon, known to physicists as Bluggner's Effect, does not occur in
nature (that is to say, on "Mutual of Omaha's 'Wild Kingdom'") but we
see traces of its existence in the rings patterns of certain species of
coral. Either that, or my dive instructor owes me $65.
© 1993 Peter Langston