In the realm of cosmology, there are two main theories as to how the universe was initially formed and what is continuing to happen since its creation. Today, the most popular of these theories suggests that all matter evolved from a gigantic ball of gas that decided to explode nearly 14 billion years ago. Since that event took place, the universe has continued to expand from that initial point of explosion. This is widely accepted today among physicists and astronomers and referred to as the Big Bang theory. On the other hand, there’s another less-embraced theory out there that most laypersons may not be familiar with, and this is known as the Steady State theory. How does this differ from the Big Bang?
The answer, in short, is quite a bit. The Steady State theory is based on a perfect cosmological principle. In simplest terms, this suggests that the universe will look the same from every location at every point in time. It must be noted here that this applies to a view from a great distance, because all objects such as planets, stars, and entire galaxies will each be different from the space that separates them. But, in regard to looking at the universe from afar, there’s a catch to seeing no changes in appearance, and that is as follows: The universe had no beginning and will have no end!
This raises some very basic questions. First of all, observations decidedly indicate that the universe is expanding, and therefore the contents within are getting thinner as they are dispersed. Those that supported the Steady State theory, proposed by Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold and Fred Hoyle back in 1948, explained this phenomenon by claiming that matter is continuously created from nothing and that only a few atoms per cubic mile were required to pull this off each year. In other words, it was suggested that the regeneration of matter was so slow that it would go unnoticed, especially since some parts of the universe are so distant that it would take the light from these occurences thousands or even millions of years to reach observers on Earth in the first place.
This was a fair enough idea. It sounded interesting, but by the 1960s, flaws began to unfold. As more advanced telescopes and observational techniques progressed, quasars were discovered. Quasars are highly luminous cores from vastly distant galaxies, and thus they were a part of a very ancient universe that was significantly different from the younger universe that one can see with the naked eye or even a decent pair of binoculars. This alone proves that the perfect cosmological principle is a false assumption. The Steady State theory all but died completely when radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang. Since those who favored the Steady State theory had no reasonable way to explain this background radiation, the theory became all but obsolete, while the Big Bang theory prevailed and continues to do so today.
Interestingly, there is one similarity between the old Steady State theory and that of the Big Bang. As stated above, Steady State followers believed that matter was continously created from nothing, and, despite protests from theological circles, many physicists now believe that nothing existed before the Big Bang. According to Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, objects with mass will slow time down. Therefore, if one could travel backward to a split second before the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe would once again be condensed into one giant singularity, and the passage of time in either direction would stop. Barring a belief in a Supreme Creator, others insist that a twin universe existed before this one and as it collapsed, the current universe was formed. And yet, a question remains:
If this were to ring true, then how did the previous twin universe start? Until the science of physics significantly evolves, it would appear that everything is back to square one.