Nautilus

Do We Have the Big Bang Theory All Wrong?

All that Hans-Jörg Fahr wants is for someone to prove him wrong. A professor of astrophysics at the University of Bonn in Germany, he has taken a stand against nearly the entire field of cosmology by claiming that the diffuse glow of background microwave radiation which bathes the sky is not, as is commonly believed, a distant echo of the Big Bang, the universe’s fiery moment of creation. The idea held by the cosmology community that tiny temperature fluctuations in this microwave background tell us about the clumpiness of the early universe, he says, is wrong. The rank and file cosmologist may as well be doing Rorschach tests.

Understandably, his ideas have met with skepticism among many. Glenn Starkman, a professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, puts it this way: “If you seek to replace a successful theory with an alternative, then [you] must demonstrate that your alternative explains a similarly full range of phenomena… In this task [Fahr and his colleagues] have not done due diligence.” But at the same time, Fahr’s ideas are rooted in physics that has already been proven in other systems, and they make falsifiable predictions. Pressed to defend his controversial position, the

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