(CN) – A tenet of the Big Bang theory, particularly that it produced conditions for certain elements to develop, is on the verge of being dramatically overturned by a scientist who claims evidence shows the event never happened, according to a study released Wednesday.
Under the Big Bang scenario, an explosion occurred at the dawn of our universe 13.8 billion years ago that dispersed chemical elements across space which cooled and formed the galaxies and stars in our cosmos. Modern astronomy’s study of the origin and ongoing development of our universe is built largely on the dominant theory’s central hypothesis.
But three critical fusion events believed to have been created by the Big Bang are under intense scrutiny by scientist Eric J. Lerner of the nuclear fusion research company LPPFusion.
Scientists believe that precise amounts of helium, deuterium and lithium were produced by fusion reactions in the dense, extremely hot cloud of chemical elements that emerged after the Big Bang.
Lerner, who has spent decades making detailed observations of such reactions, says his and other scientists’ findings don’t match up with longstanding theories based on observations of older stars. He found that old stars had less than half the helium and less than one tenth the lithium than is predicted by the Big Bang nucleosynthesis theory, which posits that a quarter of the universe’s mass is comprised of helium.
According to Lerner – who wrote the book “The Big Bang Never Happened” – no helium or lithium was created before the development of the first stars in our galaxy.
In a statement, Lerner said the mismatch of evidence on the presence of lithium in the cosmos has been well-known for some time among astronomers. But he says challenges to the dominant Big Bang theory – such as the closed-universe and Hubble-constant problems and the failure to find evidence of dark matter – have been dismissed by scientists.
“The Big Bang should have resulted in the annihilation of matter and antimatter, leaving a surviving density of matter that would be a hundred billion times less than that observed,” Lerner said in the statement. “To avoid that outcome, Big Bang theory requires an asymmetry of matter and antimatter with consequences, such as the decay of the proton, which have been contradicted by extensive experiments.”
In another example, Lerner claims that in a galaxy that is expanding, as the Big Bang theory posits, the surface brightness of distant galaxies should decline over time.
But evidence of that effect has yet to surface, according to Lerner’s study which was unveiled Wednesday at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“For cosmology to advance, the basic hypothesis of the Big Bang has to be abandoned,” Lerner said in the statement. “The real crisis in cosmology is that the Big Bang never happened.”
Lerner says the Galactic Origin of Light Elements, or GOLE, hypothesis, rightly holds that the first generation of stars to form in the cosmos were stars of intermediate mass roughly four to 12 times the size of our sun.
Under the GOLE theory, helium, deuterium and lithium were produced by these stars after they burned hydrogen at faster rates than our sun and dispersed elements across the cosmos through stellar winds.
New observations based on the GOLE hypothesis show that the early stars also produce carbon, boron and beryllium in the amounts observed in the oldest stars.
Lerner said his findings are buttressed by his recent observations of newly formed, more luminous galaxies.
“The correct predictions of the GOLE model not only fit the observations far better than does the Big Bang model” Lerner said in the statement. “The production of the light elements by stars must occur – and if there was also production by a Big Bang, we would observe far more of these light elements than we do.”
Not everyone who studies space and the cosmos is ready to get on board with Lerner’s theory, however. A Los Angeles-based astronomy and physics professor said longstanding scientific evidence refutes Lerner’s claims.
“Many of his arguments don’t hold water,” University of Southern California professor Vahé Peroomian said in an interview, noting Lerner seldom links to peer-reviewed articles. “My general impression would be to take things he argues with a grain of salt.”
Peroomian said that cosmic microwave background, for example, which is evidence of radiation stemming from the Big Bang, is a pillar of the cosmological theory and one that Lerner cannot dispute.
Also, if there were major flaws with the Big Bang theory, Lerner wouldn’t be the only critical voice rising from the scientific community, Peroomian said.
Peroomian – who is not a cosmologist – pointed to astrophysicist Edward L. Wright’s extensive critique of Lerner’s 1991 book, which Peroomian said is part of a chorus of scientific voices taking down Lerner’s theories.
Wright, who taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, published an article refuting Lerner’s claims that dark matter doesn’t exist or that stars contain less helium than the Big Bang predicted.
“Lerner wants to make helium in stars,” Wright said in the article. “This presents a problem because the stars that actually release helium back into the interstellar medium make a lot of heavier elements too.”
On dark matter, Wright said the evidence for its existence lies in the orbital motions, bending of light and behavior of gases trapped in clusters of galaxies.
Any doubts about dark matter may have vanished Wednesday, when NASA scientists announced astronomers have confirmed a fundamental prediction of the cold dark matter theory which posits that all galaxies form and exist within clouds of dark matter, the mysterious form that makes up most of the universe’s mass.
Although scientists cannot see dark matter, they can detect it by measuring how its gravity affects stars and galaxies embedded within it.
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers learned dark matter forms in much smaller clumps around large and medium-size galaxies than previously known.