Last weekend, we said — whatever the implications for the Big Bang — it was evident that the James Webb Space Telescope had shaken up astronomy. At Scientific American, science writer Jonathan O’Callaghan seems to agree:
In the weeks and months following JWST’s findings of surprisingly mature “early” galaxies, blindsided theorists and observers alike have been scrambling to explain them. Could the bevy of anomalously big and bright early galaxies be illusory, perhaps because of flaws in analysis of the telescope’s initial observations? If genuine, could they somehow be explained by standard cosmological models? Or, just maybe, were they the first hints that the universe is more strange and complex than even our boldest theories had supposed?
At stake is nothing less than our very understanding of how the orderly universe we know emerged from primordial chaos. JWST’s early revelations could be poised to rewrite the opening chapters of cosmic history, which concern not only distant epochs and faraway galaxies but also our own existence here, in the familiar Milky Way. “You build these machines not to confirm the paradigm, but to break it,” says JWST scientist Mark McCaughrean, a senior advisor for science and exploration at the European Space Agency. “You just don’t know how it will break.”JONATHAN O’CALLAGHAN, “JWST’S FIRST GLIMPSES OF EARLY GALAXIES COULD BREAK COSMOLOGY” AT SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (SEPTEMBER 14, 2022)
McCaughrean may not be exaggerating:
The most startling explanation is that the canonical LCDM cosmological model is wrong and requires revision. “These results are very surprising and hard to get in our standard model of cosmology,” [Michael] Boylan-Kolchin says. “And it’s probably not a small change. We’d have to go back to the drawing board.”JONATHAN O’CALLAGHAN, “JWST’S FIRST GLIMPSES OF EARLY GALAXIES COULD BREAK COSMOLOGY” AT SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (SEPTEMBER 14, 2022)
“Revolutionary Changes” Ahead?
That’s why those who had always doubted the Big Bang were suddenly heard from. Others rushed to defend it, pointing out that — as an origin theory — it depends on a good deal of evidence that the JWST is not designed to evaluate. At the very least, we are promised “revolutionary changes.”
Those changes are not only about science. There is a lot of culture and philosophy built into the Big Bang Theory as we understand it. Yes, we are thinking of the popular sitcom (2007–2019) of that name:
On a more serious note, though, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor disputes with philosopher David Papineau as to whether the Big Bang is a natural event. Robert J. Marks considers the mathematics behind Sheldon’s theory that in no universe would he dance with Penny — and concludes that Sheldon may well be right. And astrobiologist Caleb Scharf offers an argument based on the Big Bang for free will.
Read the rest at Mind Matters News, published by Discovery Institute’s Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.