In the beginning…

The Big Bang is stupid.

No, no, I’m not one of those religious fanatics who thinks the universe was “intelligently designed.” The Big Bang theory is great. The universe was nothing, then—bang!—suddenly it was something.

But who came up with that silly name?

As I learned this quarter, cosmology (the study of the universe) is full of unique terms. Redshift. Supernovae. Globular clusters. Singularity. These concepts are simple enough for English majors to understand, but they sound scientific enough fascinate the physicists.

The “Big Bang” sounds like it was invented by a fourth grader.

“Use your best imaginations, children. How do you think the universe came about?” “Ooh, ooh, was it a little spark?” “Nuh uh, it was a huge pop.” “Pick me, Ms. Frizzle—it was a BIG BANG!”

Much in the field of cosmology remains a mystery because, well, professors aren’t paid enough to travel to the Andromeda galaxy or the next one over. So maybe the concept of the Big Bang was initially just speculation.

“We know a lot happened all at once when the universe was formed. So…we think it made a rather loud noise. Perhaps a banging sound. And we think it was huge. Gigantic. Colossal. So really, it was a just a Big Bang.”

Maybe when the astronomers were naming cosmological objects, the stars and the planets weren’t the only things that were high.

“Yeah, I have this crazy idea. It’s wiiiiild. The universe started with a bang. And it was big. Reallyyy big, mannnnn.”

But the theory is valid. It makes sense, and if I was more interested in the history of the universe, I’d probably like to explore it further. But come on, astronomers. You came up with names like nebulae and fermions and the Schwartzchild radius. For an event as important as the beginning of time and space, you can’t come up with anything better?

If you’re so smart, clever scientists, tell me how the universe will end. If it had a beginning, it must have an ending. The universe will collapse into a state of high density and temperature, my textbook says, in an event astronomers call the “Big Crunch.” Okay, guys, you have approximately 42 billion years to come up with something better. Ready, go.

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2 thoughts on “In the beginning…

  1. Trying to resist…but can’t 🙂
    Most scientific names are either descriptive or named after the person who discovered them. Evolution is just that…evolution. And a word like EMSA sounds cool, but all it means is electrophoretic mobility shift assay, which believe it or not, is an exact description of what it’s supposed to do. And the Schwartzchild radius is named after Schwartzchild. Honestly? We just don’t care. Unlike journalists, we’re not looking to come up with fancy terms, we’re trying to describe what’s going on and make things easy to remember. We don’t care much for style points until after we’ve worked out the rest. Sooooo, by all means, come up with a cool-sounding term for the Big Bang, but we’ll stick with what works 😉
    Well, until we’ve discovered everything, then we’ll come back and give it all science-y names.

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