You are on page 1of 2

Physical Science

Important Terms:

Cosmology- is a branch of astronomy that involves the origin and evolution of the
universe, from the Big Bang to today and on into the future. According to NASA,
the definition of cosmology is "the scientific study of the large scale properties of
the universe as a whole."Cosmologists puzzle over exotic concepts like string
theory, dark matter and dark energy and whether there is one universe or many
(sometimes called the multiverse). While other aspects astronomy deal with
individual objects and phenomena or collections of objects, cosmology spans the
entire universe from birth to death, with a wealth of mysteries at every stage.
Bigbang Theory- the Big Bang Theory is the leading explanation about how the
universe began. At its simplest, it says the universe as we know it started with a
small singularity, then inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos that
we know today.Because current instruments don't allow astronomers to peer
back at the universe's birth, much of what we understand about the Big Bang
Theory comes from mathematical formulas and models. Astronomers can,
however, see the "echo" of the expansion through a phenomenon known as
the cosmic microwave background.
Singularity- a singularity means a point where some property is infinite. For
example, at the center of a black hole, according to classical theory, the density
is infinite (because a finite mass is compressed to a zero volume). Hence it is a
singularity. Similarly, if you extrapolate the properties of the universe to the
instant of the Big Bang, you will find that both the density and the temperature go
to infinity, and so that also is a singularity. It must be stated that these come due
to the breaking down of the classical theory. As yet, there is no theory of
quantum gravity, but it is entirely possible that the singularities may be avoided
with a theory of quantum gravity.
Inflation- is a period of exponential expansion thought to have occurred around
10-36 seconds after the universe began. During this period, which lasted for a few
million Planck times, the universe expanded by a factor of at least 1025,
smoothing out temperature and density fluctuations to produce the nearly uniform
universe we observe today. Although the mechanism driving inflation is still not
understood, evidence from the cosmic microwave background supports its

Annihilation- in physics, reaction in which a particle and its antiparticle collide

and disappear, releasing energy. The most common annihilation on Earth occurs
between an electron and its antiparticle, a positron. A positron, which may
originate in radioactive decay or, more commonly, in the interactions of cosmic
rays in matter, usually combines briefly with an electron to form a quasi-atom
called positronium. The quasi-atom is composed of the two particles spinning
around each other before they annihilate. After the annihilation, two or
three gamma rays radiate from the point of collision.The amount of energy (E)
produced by annihilation is equal to the mass (m) that disappears multiplied by
the square of the speed of light in a vacuum (c)i.e., E = mc2. Thus, annihilation
is an example of the equivalence of mass and energy and a confirmation of the
theory of special relativity, which predicts this equivalence.
Recombinationtion- in the context of cosmology, the term recombination refers to
electrons combining with atomic nuclei to form atoms. In our standard model of
cosmology, this took place around 390,000 years after the Big Bang. Prior to the
time of recombination, the universe was filled with a plasma of electrically
charged particles. Afterward, it was full of neutral atoms.
Red Shift- the light from distant stars and more distant galaxies is not
featureless, but has distinct spectral features characteristic of the atoms in the
gases around the stars. When these spectra are examined, they are found to be
shifted toward the red end of the spectrum. This shift is apparently a Doppler shift
and indicates that essentially all of the galaxies are moving away from us. Using
the results from the nearer ones, it becomes evident that the more distant
galaxies are moving away from us faster. This is the kind of result one would
expect for an expanding universe. The red line of the spectrum below is the
transition from n=3 to n=2 of hydrogen and is famous as the H-alpha line seen
throughout all the universe.
Relative Abundance- is the percentage (thats why it is called relative) of a certain
isotope occuring in a natural mixture of all the isotopes of that element. It has
nothing to do with Relativity.
Cosmic Microwave Background- he Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB, is radiation
that fills the universe and can be detected in every direction. Microwaves are invisible to
the naked eye so they cannot be seen without instruments. Created shortly after the
universe came into being in the Big Bang, the CMB represents the earliest radiation that
can be detected. Astronomers have likened the CMB to seeing sunlight penetrating an
overcast sky.Looking out into deep space, and therefore back into deep time,
astronomers see the CMB radiation saturating space beginning at about 378,000
years after the Big Bang. Before the creation of the CMB, the universe was a hot,
dense and opaque plasma containing both matter and energy. Photons could not
travel freely, so no light escaped from those earlier times.