Did the Big Bang actually happen?

An interesting article in Asia Times, which increasingly seems to be on the outside of the Swamp Bubble:
Saying goodbye to the Big Bang - Asia Times

… Now, it is hardly news that there is a crisis in cosmology. Researchers have been discussing that for nearly 30 years and it has been big in the mass media since 2019.

But what is new and important is the admission by well-known cosmologists such as Frank and Gleiser that new observations mean we may need “a radical departure from the standard model” of cosmology, one that requires us “to change how we think of the elemental components of the universe, possibly even the nature of space and time.” …

As I wrote then [30 years ago], a highly centralized structure for funding cosmology research and a tight competition for such funds ensured that if you wrote that the Big Bang did not happen, or if you even raised doubts about that, then you were deemed “either stupid or not fit for your job” and you wouldn’t get any funding. …

But free and open debate is essential to obtaining scientific truth. It is long past time for cosmologists to throw off this self-censorship and say openly that the Big Bang/expansion theory may be entirely wrong. …

Whether Prof. Lerner’s ideas on the Universe are right or wrong is well above my pay grade. Nevertheless, with the travesty of “Climate Science” as a guide on the bastardization of science, it is worth giving some attention to ideas which are out of the government-funded scientific mainstream.


Well, I don’t have a pay grade, but you don’t need a paycheck or credentials to know that Eric Lerner is a crackpot and his theories complete nonsense.

First of all, he is not and has never been a professor. He got a B.A. in physics from Columbia and started the postgraduate physics program at University of Maryland but dropped out after one year to become a popular science writer. As far as I can find, this was his last association with academia.

In 1984, he started a fusion power company which secured grants from NASA, claiming to have a new approach to aneutronic fusion (which involves reactions much more difficult to achieve than the deuterium-tritium fusion nobody has yet succeeded in reaching break-even). He claimed he had reached a new temperature record, but as far as I can tell did not provide proof or specify density or confinement time, the other two components of the triple product Lawson criterion. In 2012, he announced an alliance with the fusion lab at the Islamic Azad University Central Tehran Branch in Iran.

In 1991 he published his book, The Big Bang Never Happened, in which he presented an alternative to Big Bang theory based upon the plasma cosmology of Hannes Alfvén, which claims plasma effects and magnetic fields explain the formation of structure in the universe. He presented as evidence for his theory the failure of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) spacecraft to find anisotropies in the cosmic background radiation, implying that his plasma model would not create them (and, implicitly, that more precise measurements would not find them). He rejected dark matter and claimed that the big bang model could not explain the large scale structures observed in the universe.

He further rejected the entire idea of an origin of the universe in the past and argued the universe was eternal. When it was pointed out that this would violate the second law of thermodynamics, of which no violation has ever been observed by experiment, he proposed a new version of the law (untested by experiment) which would permit his theory.

Lerner claims that the observed abundance of helium in the universe (around 25%) was made in stars, not mostly synthesised in the early universe after the big bang.

More than thirty years have passed since Lerner’s book was published, and subsequent space missions and ground-based observations have dramatically improved the precision of essentially every item Lerner cited. In every single case, the results have strengthened the case for the standard big bang model and falsified Lerner’s speculations. In particular, the Planck and WMAP spacecraft have mapped the cosmic background radiation with a precision many times greater than COBE and not only found the anisotropies in the cosmic background radiation, but precisely the scale-independent structure which the big bang theory predicted many years before. This structure fits the composition model of baryonic and dark matter plus dark energy very accurately, again confirming a prediction made long before the data were taken. Further, that confirms the model of big bang nucleosynthesis, which is also confirmed by measurements of the composition of stars in distant galaxies much farther back in time than had been observed in 1991.

On top of all of that, deep observations of the universe by the new generation of large ground based telescopes and space telescopes in visible and infrared light have captured galaxies much closer to the big bang than had been observed in 1991, and their measurements show that these galaxies look nothing like those we see closer to the present, demonstrating that the universe is evolving, which Lerner’s theory, positing an eternal universe, rejects.

Lerner, like a typical crackpot, either rejects these data through increasingly baroque rationalisations and/or spews word salad to “re-interpret” his falsified theory to “explain” them. Essentially every prediction Lerner made in 1991 has been falsified and none of the predictions which would support his theory has been confirmed. I don’t know if he has yet invoked the “vast conspiracy of mainstream gatekeepers covering up the data” argument, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Lerner is not only a kook, he has become a boring an uninteresting kook, not worth wasting one’s time on.

Every time some new observation is made, the popular press proclaims “tension in cosmology” or, if that doesn’t get enough clicks, “crisis in cosmology”. Well, guess what? There have been tensions and crises in cosmology at least since the Great Debate between Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis in 1920. The universe is a complicated place, and we have only slowly come to observe it in more wavelength bands, deeper into the sky, and with greater angular precision. Frequently, as new data come in, it is surprising and doesn’t agree with the expectations from current theoretical models, and this creates “tension”. This is good—that’s why you collect such data in the first place. This allows models to be refined (or in some cases, the assumptions made in collecting and interpreting the data to be revised), and several years and thousands of scientific publications later, the “tension” is resolved, only to be replaced by new ones. This is how science works when it’s working properly.

Now there is a “tension” about how soon structure appears to have formed after the big bang, and crackpots such as Lerner are jumping on it to claim crisis in cosmology! First of all, the data in hand are very sparse and difficult to interpret at the moment, and researchers await a flood of data from the James Webb Space Telescope to provide a larger sample of the universe in those early days. Meanwhile theorists are trying to figure out how these observations might fit with other “tensions” such as the formation of the seeds of supermassive black holes in the early universe. Now, maybe we are on the threshold of a revolution which will throw out all of our cosmological models and provide a better explanation of the observations of the last sixty years, but that’s not the way to bet.

For what it’s worth, Eric Lerner is also a left-wing kook. From Wikipedia:

While at Columbia, Lerner participated in the 1965 Selma March and helped organize the 1968 Columbia Student Strike.

In the 1970s, Lerner became involved in the National Caucus of Labor Committees, an offshoot of the Columbia University Students for a Democratic Society. Lerner left the National Caucus in 1978, later stating in a lawsuit that he had resisted pressure from the U.S. Labor Party, an organization led by Lyndon LaRouche, to violate election law by channeling profits of an engineering firm to the organization.

More recently, Lerner sought civil rights protection for immigrants as a member and spokesman for the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee. He participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011.


The article resonated with me because I had recently seen one of Brian Greene’s World Science University videos where he interviewed a number of people working on “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”. The amount of money being spent on satellites and ground-based telescopes specifically to investigate those topics is staggering! That of course immediately brings to mind the ClimateScam and the legions of “climate scientists” who kiss the ring (willingly or unwillingly) to get their funding.

A healthy skepticism has its place – in science as in life!


I recently asked one of the physics forums for the current upper bounds on hypothesized dark matter particle di/para/magnetic dipole self-interaction by all of the various attempts to impute its properties. I was told in no uncertain terms that it was “crackpot” to ask that question because no hypothesized particles in the Standard Model or any of its speculated extensions had such a dipole.

So I suppose the word “crackpot” gets its fair share of abuse since such devotion to a “Standard” model is its own special kind of crack.

I’d say that, in general “standard” crackpottery is about a factor of 10 more damaging to science than all the loons running around trying to form quasi-religious cults if for no other reason than that the “standard” crackpottery creates an immune response to anything remotely approaching scientific “consensus.”

If serious scientists were really serious, they’d be drumming guys like the one I ran across out of the tenure track and, preferably, into working at convenience stores long before they went after the wanna be cult leaders.

PS: This is fresh in my mind because even more recently I ran across literature about “dipolar dark matter” that may be “fringe”, but at least there are number of “tensions” in cosmology related to if not resolved by positing such dipolarity outside the “standard” model.