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Earth Science Microwave Background Radiation Problems

Microwave Background Radiation Problems

What is Microwave Background Radiation (MBR)? Our universe according to the BB theory, began with what George Gamow called the “primeval fireball.” During the first second of existence, the universe went through various changes. Over several thousand years, matter changed as space expanded and cooled. The universe remained too hot for electromagnetic forces to take hold and bond electrons to their parent nuclei. This continued for approximately three to four hundred thousand years after the BB, so the theory goes, until electrons were captured by the nuclei to form neutral atomic structures. At this time, light took the form of ultra-high-energy gamma rays. After some fourteen billion years these once intense gamma rays; has now been stretched or red-shifted, by a factor of a thousand to produce what we observe today as Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.

This radiation has a heat signature. Gamow, along with Ralph Alper and Robert Hermon, attempted to calculate the temperature of this leftover heat. These early calculations came out on the high side due to the level of technology at the time. Nevertheless, by measuring a temperature in the universe, the work was considered monumental.

Around twenty years later, Robert Dicke, a Princeton astronomer known for building good antennas, and P.J.E. Peebles, an astrophysicist, were making progress in measuring the temperature more accurately. At nearly the same time, there were two engineers working for Bell Laboratories, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, were building antennas to communicate with orbiting satellites. They ran into problems with a constant static that interfered with their work. After eliminating technical problems, they looked to the sky for answers. No matter which way they pointed their antennas, the signal was the same leading to the conclusion that this radiation was coming from outside the atmosphere. It became apparent that the radiation was coming from outside the solar system and even perhaps from outside the galaxy. This radiation was extremely uniform, having variations of less than one part in 10,000.

In 1965 Penzias and Wilson heard about the Princeton project and met with Dicke and Peebles. In 1978, the two men Penzias and Wilson won the Nobel Prize for discovering the energy that saturates everything in existence notably the Microwave Background Radiation.

Microwave radiation is believed to have originated sometime in the range of 100,000 to one million years after the BB. It was called by George Gamow in 1954, the “great event” – a time when matter took over from radiation. The universe was “radiation dominated” before decoupling and “matter dominated” after it. At that point the previously opaque universe became clear, and radiation is said to have traveled un-scattered through space to become the MBR received today. So what are the problems? It is far from a proven fact, that this radiation measured today arose from this event, whether the event took place at all, or the radiation comes from some other source entirely. (1)

The COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite was put into orbit. Its purpose was to measure more accurately the temperature of the MBR. Each wavelength of light has what is called a blackbody temperature. A blackbody is a theoretical, hypothetical body that absorbs all radiation falling on it. When heated it emits radiation at characteristic energies or wavelengths that correspond to its temperature alone. From this, the average temperature of the MBR was established as being 2.7 degrees Kelvin.

Is there a temperature problem associated with the MBR?

The MBR is considered by many to be the most important evidence in support of the BB theory. However the 2.7 degree K. temperature is in disagreement with predictions made by various BB theorists. Predictions vary over a range of 5 to 50 K. Some BB cosmologist’s predictions of MBR temperature have been “adjusted” after-the-fact to agree with observed temperatures. (2) Kragh has said that Dicke had predicted an MBR temperature of about 20 K in 1946 and had re-estimated that to be 40 K in the 1960’s. Others include Stephen G. Brush who has stated that Dicke had estimated “less than 20 K” in 1946 but, later on, revised that to 45 K. As already stated, Gamow predicted a temperature of about 50 K, but in 1948 his students Alpher and Herman re-estimated Gamow’s prediction to 5 K. A year later they changed their prediction to 28 K. (3) When is the next prediction coming? We seem to think that we have always reached the “state of the art” ability to understand the truth about things at our particular time in history. Ten years from now, we will look back and see that we were wrong about so many things “scientific”. Why are we so sure about our understanding today, regarding scientific things, when we know that history demonstrates that most of what we “know now” is rubbish? When it comes to the universe, our knowledge is considerably hindered because it is “out there” and we are “not out there” and our technology is still primitive, at least primitive in respects to what it will be fifty years from now. What arrogance we have to be so sure about what we know so little about. How many intelligent men and women (seemingly more men), devote their lives, and careers to something that is more likely to be wrong than right as time passes by. This arrogance is even compounded by the fact that scientific endeavors are limited to naturalistic belief criteria. What if there really is a God. Whoops, sorry about that.

Where has all the energy gone?

According to Michell, MBR photons from the decoupling are said to have cooled by a factor of about 1,000 from 3,000 K to about 3 K. These photons have lost 99.9 percent of their original energy, which is almost twice the equivalent energy of the present observable universe. The question arises, “What happened to that enormous amount of energy?” The only answers to that question received from a BB source, “that it disappears into the ‘fine structure of space’ (whatever that means) and eventually reappears in the structures of atoms.” (4)

I can see that if one loses a few percentage points in the variability of a measurement, it might be acceptable, considering our “primitive” way of measuring things. However, not being able to account for 99.9 percent of it, is essentially admitting you don’t know where any of it went – assuming of course the original temperature was as stated, and assuming there was a decoupling, and assuming that the radiation being measured is coming from the MBR, and assuming there was a BB to begin with etc. Is there a Guiness record for the number of assumptions one can link together. I assume there might be.

Could there be a galaxy formation problem related to the MBR?

Secondly, there are large irregularities in the formation of galaxies, which might be expected to cause fairly large directional variations of the MBR. (5) The directional uniformity of the MBR cannot be reconciled with the observed non-uniformities of matter distribution in the universe. As radiation moved through space these non-uniformities would alter the radiation by absorption and reemission. Scattering would take place and movement towards us would be variable. Microwave radiation measurements should be non-uniform by the time they reach earth. (6)

Since the MBR is said to be “too perfect”, provides evidence which rules out any way of forming the large scale structures in the universe from the BB. The structures could not have formed before the time of the BB either. Any concentration of matter present at that time would show up as hotter and brighter spots in the intensity of the background radiation. Fluctuations at least a thousand times larger should have been observed. This “perfection” makes it impossible for the theory to explain how today’s’ clumpy universe could have come to be. (7)

Something is amiss here. Perhaps another assumption is needed to explain this problem. We are really not sure where this radiation is coming from. Scientists are proposing other alternatives for its origin. Of course we can be sure that these new theories are more accurate than the previous ones. The mental gymnastics are fine but should we be paying these people big salaries to continue dreaming up new theories? Should we be telling our young people that the universe is 15 billions of years old without them having been taught the limitations associated with these figures? Shouldn’t our youth be provided with some insight into what is verifiable – the simple fact that these scientists really have no clue as to what is going on out there or how it all got started in the first place? Can the MBR be accounted for by other processes?

In 1926 Sir Arthur Eddington argued that because everything is constantly bathed in distant starlight, interstellar space would have a black body temperature of about 3 degrees K. Could it be in fact, that this temperature is not caused by the MBR at all? Is it the natural temperature of the universe? Weaknesses in the understanding of the MBR add to the surmounting evidence that BB’ers have little idea what happened at anytime in the past – when it happened, how it happened, or if it happened. Technology is improving, but still is limited in measuring what exists out there and identifying what it is doing. So much speculation, assumptions, theories based on other theories and assumptions leave us at odds as to what to believe and what is the truth.

More Chronology Problems.

Is our universe at 15 billions of years of age, too young? Well, it depends on how you look at it. If you are a BB’r, it’s just right. However, what are observations telling us? First, let us look at the most accepted way of measuring the age of the universe. As described earlier, as objects move away from us they become red-shifted. The amount of red-shift can provide some evidence of the velocity and distance objects are in space and thus how long their activity has progressed through time.

Edwin Hubble was born in Missouri, attended the University of Chicago, went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and received a PhD degree at the University of Chicago. Much of his work was done in the 1920’s and 1930’s. In Hubble’s day measurements of red-shifts was not an easy task, nor is it much easier today. Based on the assumption of Doppler red-shift, the Hubble constant can be determined. This constant is expressed as velocity as a function of distance in units of either kilometers per second per megaparsec (km/sec/Mpc), or in units of kilometers per second per million light year (km/sec/MLYs). A megaparsec is a million parsecs. One parsec equals 3.26 light years, or the distance light will travel in a year.

Before we look at the Hubble constant, which is used to measure the age of the universe, we need to understand that the Hubble constant is “not constant”. How is that for a good start? Anyway, the exact value of the constant has not been established. Early estimates were as high as several hundred km/sec/Mpc. Today, “according to improved methods, good for today only,” have narrowed that down to the range of 50 to 80 km/sec/Mpc, or roughly 15 to 25 km/sec/MLYs. Also, only for a fixed-rate universe would the Hubble constant be constant “or at least as constant as scientists wish it to be constant.” (8)

Based upon this Hubble constant, we have a universe that is measured around 15 to 20 billions of years. According to Lerner, some crucial observations have flatly contradicted the assumptions and predictions of the BB. Because the BB supposedly occurred only about twenty billion years ago, nothing in the cosmos can be older than this. Yet in 1986 astronomers discovered that galaxies compose huge agglomerations a billion light-years across; such mammoth clustering’s of matter must have taken a hundred billion years to form. (9)

Let us take a further look at some of these large agglomerations that exist in the universe. It may take only a few million years to form stars according to star formation theorists. For galaxies to form, perhaps one or two billion years are needed. Clusters take even longer. When we arrive at supercluster formation we begin to run into problems. Tully’s objects begin to boggle the mind. What are Tully’s objects? These are superclusters that are so huge, it would have taken around eighty billion years to have formed; four or five times longer than the present estimate of the big bang.

How is this determined? Astronomers can measure velocity and distance with red-shifting. Galaxies never move much faster than a thousand kilometers per second. Since the beginning of the BB, a galaxy could have moved only about sixty-five million light years. If you start out with matter spread evenly through space, you can’t build up objects as vast and dense as Tully’s objects based on that time period. Matter would have had to move much further than sixty-five million light-years – more like 270 million light-years. (10)

Furthermore, according to Lerner in an internet article, in 1989 the work of Margaret J. Geller and John P. Huchra of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who mapped all galaxies within about six hundred million light-years of earth, announced their latest results, revealing what they called the “Great Wall,” a huge sheet of galaxies stretching in every direction off the region mapped. The sheet, more than two hundred million light-years across and seven hundred million light-years long, but only about twenty million light-years thick, coincides exactly with the supercluster complex mapped by Tully. (11) Still Larger structures were uncovered by an international team of American, British, and Hungarian observers including David Koo of Lick Observatory and T.J. Broadhurst of the University of Durham, in England. These objects appear to have taken at least 150 billion years to form, which is seven to ten times the number of years since the BB allegedly took place. (12)

So, it would appear that the universe may be too young. Can the universe be younger than its galaxies? BB theorists are set on the universe being young, but evidence appears to make the universe much older. On the other hand, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to see farther than ever before have said that, “even at early times there already were galaxies with huge families of stars,” and astronomer Marcia Bartusiak has agreed, saying, “This seems to suggest that the major galactic components were in place within a couple of billions of years after the Big Bang.” (13) One group says we need more time; another group says we have enough. How can we tell who is right? Who knows how long it takes for a galaxy to form, let alone a supercluster? Are we measuring the speed of galaxies correctly? Has their speed changed over time? Were they faster at some time in the past, and have slowed down? The speculative nature of all our present observations is but guesswork. Even our application of mathematical formulas to try and rein in some measure of truth in these areas is suspect. We already know that math and physics applied to earthly domains, is not fully applicable to domains in outer space. Time references are relative as well as what happens to objects as they increase in speed.

Other theories explain some aspects of what is observed better than the big bang. All theories have serious limitations. Also, every scientist has his or her own biases. If you have spent thirty years promoting one theory, how likely are you to change and promote another; particularly when your theory sounds as good as the next one? One thing we do know about all this; is that we don’t know.


1. Mitchell, p. 103
2. p. 25
3. Mitchell, p. 104
4. Ibid., p. 109
5. p. 26
6. Mitchell, p. 110
7. Lerner, p. 31
8. Mitchell, p. 74
9. Lerner, p. 12
11. Ibid., p. 2
12. Ibid., p. 2
13. Mitchell, p. 86