Space and life, questions about the Big Bang ! Part 2



Wolfgang Korsus Dipl.-Ing.NT, Astrophysiker

Klingenberg 40

D-25451 Quickborn

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I have to look as a really and thus actually „godless“, better said „atheist“ with great respect on the mentioned man.

Georges Edouard Lemaître (* 17. 1894 in Charleroi, Belgium† 20. June 1966 in Leuven, Belgium) he was, yes…..You hear right, a Belgian theologian, Catholic priest and ….. ? Astrophysicist.

It is he who is considered by many of us as the founder of the „big bang theory“.

This man once said: „Standing on a very cooled pile of ashes, we observe the gradual extinction of the suns, and we try to remember the disappeared splendor of the origin of the worlds.

A very thought-provoking sentence

This planet Earth has been around for an eternity, meanwhile it has cooled down enormously…..and I state:

„Life on earth is expensive, but it includes after all a yearly round trip around the sun“….ha,ha,ha !…..and that for free !

More beautifully we could not describe the earth and the life on this wonderful planet.

But unfortunately, and irrevocably we „people“ have become the biggest plague of this planet „earth „and that, since there is this object, on which the interest, the thinking, the acting is directed, therefore this „object“!!!!

The human being I say was and is called a classical representative of a certain category of living beings. Most of them are interestingly designed, strongly stylized, without reason and intellect no individual traits. They destroy, clear, overfish, breed, burn, wage wars, murder immoderately and, out of greed and stupidity, cause numerous species of animals to become extinct every year. Animals and plants, which have previously defeated every natural enemy for thousands of years, are helpless and without a chance against us humans, against our stupidity, weapons and tools.

Why don’t we treat the planet earth, which ultimately a human being needs to be able to live, nature and every living being on this planet with more humility and respect? Because we all have one thing in common: We sit on the same planet with which we fly, as already said, laughing and amused once a year around the sun…….unfortunately only a few of the living beings who have been given the name „man“ notice this.

Dear readers, in the above sentence of Georges Lemaître, do you also feel the deep longing in these words? I simply say, it is this longing that has motivated so few people to this day to pursue the sunny subjects of astronomy and cosmology. I myself, am only a trifle, it is my very own desire to understand the world in which I live, yet only….Basta…. !

Also I say, already in my childhood I asked myself almost daily : “ tell me, where does all this come from, how did this come into being ?“ one is born, very understandable, one begins to think so with four years, yes this world is already there !!!! When my grandfather saw me so brooding, he always said to the family: „Wolfgang is researching again !“

For me then already as a youth a big riddle opened and the everlasting desire for knowledge!!!!
The universe originated in a big bang then suddenly changed in a transformation or metamorphosis from dead matter to living organisms. How so ? That was for already „having lived“ and is for today’s „living people“ and also for still living and also for me, a marvelous riddle……and so approximately it will always be.

A universe which carries all conditions in itself in a big bang to carry out the unbelievable transformation, better still transformation of dead matter to living organisms after billions of years, is for me a very remarkable result of our research.

A result that I will only stop accepting when I have already died.

I have already emphasized many times in many of my contributions, the people of the prehistoric times up to the antiquity, believed, or saw the existence and the functioning of all today known cosmic processes, – speak, as the existence of gods and myths.

But, think, this conception was simply wrong. There were no beings, which could carry out similar to Klabautermännchen or Götterchen, all this.

Our world has developed finally from the nothing or differently expressed, a completely disordered chaos into a very ordered cosmos. But this thought was not conceivable for a long time in a nevertheless very open-minded part of mankind and if one is honest, basically not until today. However, for those who wanted to know a lot and were constantly inquiring, the so-called eternal or static universe was already at that time a violent provocation. Those with the less critical mind saw it surely nevertheless as a big reassurance.

Of course it is known that the long ago mankind was interested in everything what was out there. Many things were indeed considered to be explored and sometimes already explored.

For the interest of mankind in the processes in the sky there are even several archaeological proofs, only exactly known are the fewest…..and I consider still whether I take perhaps nevertheless times to it extra position.

Actually, it is superfluous for me to say something to this topic. Because philosophers and quiet discoverers have always made themselves smarter to become. Whether with or little success……

I often couldn’t get out of the amazement when I read comments of already known colleagues. It was often difficult for me to understand.

Differently it happened at the beginning of the modern times !!!

The modern age is in the European historiographic classification scheme after early history, antiquity and Middle Ages the fourth historical major epoch. Its beginning is often simplified with the year 1500, it reaches up to the present.

But now let’s go. So it is clear, the “ understanding“ came only with the beginning of this fourth historical great epoch. The empirical natural sciences developed „finally“. Even the cosmos as a whole was „inspired“.

The success of many development processes comes slowly, slowly to bear !

Very simply I say: „Lines of development gained more and more clarity, they became more understandable within the science. The static cosmos which was also called eternal, lost slowly but steadily a certain scientific seriousness.

Let’s look a little bit back into the 20’s of the last century. There was enormously much research and this research pointed clearly to an expanding cosmos. Nevertheless the list of the expansion critics was damn big and the names of those read like written with precious metal letters. I enumerate some times :

Max Born, Louis de Broglie, Walther Nernst, Fred Hoyle, Robert Millikan, Erwin Freundlich up to the always very loud discussing of Switzerland, Fritz Zwicky. I am sure there were certainly some more research greats. The question reared up to a surely political process or better object. Even a pope Pius XII had to give his mustard to it…..and that was already spoiled mustard.

But something came to the expanding U. Entgegen ! Because naturally some physical improvements followed, e.g. , the determination of the age of the universe was improved and at the same time also the distance measurement of the universe could come a step forward. Worth mentioning is also the improved radio astronomy, it contributed in addition to the direct proof that the galaxies stood in former times denser than today!!!!!!!!

……..And this last sentence has a unique meaning, it points to a solution in, and I, will pronounce it! To this subject I will therefore still take a very clear stand. He will yield an explanation not seen before for a so far unsolved „Astronomical ( Astrophysical problem or better riddle !

Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 – 2001)

Strangely even an involuntary eponym for the word Big Bang so common today was found, Sir Fred Hoyle. He was unbelievably long main representative of the static universe, he dismissed in a radio broadcast the model of a dynamically developing, expanding cosmos with the disparagingly meant designation „Big Bang“ and became so involuntarily the eponym of this theory valid up to the today’s day. The model of the big bang has asserted itself……and as from many experts afterwards, it has become the recognized standard model of the cosmology.

Now, therefore, he who still defended the static universe for decades, has himself quite unconsciously put the brand (big bang) into operation.

Certainly one thing can be said, the reservations of Fred Hoyle and his colleagues have been quite well comprehensible from knowledge of them at that time.

…simply with big steps thought further, a universe which expands continuously was obviously yesterday smaller and warmer than today and one billion years ago still smaller and still warmer. Thought back completely consistently always further (rising temperatures and densities) then one can assume certainly from an unimaginably hot and dense big bang.

That was the theoretical beginning and now follows guaranteed from every reader the certain question: „And what was before the big bang?“, ……the question is justified, isn’t it?

But this does not remain the only question, with it was still far not end, relatively many, the nerve and the curiosity attacking questions come or came up or will still come up.

Some very simple and yet scientific, almost philosophical questions are certainly the following:

-how can anything at all come into being from nothing, and then also something so incomprehensibly big? ……After all, it is to be observed nowadays…….!

-and where does the necessary energy come from?

-What is it with the expansion of the universe! expand eternally or collapse again sometime?

Before I finish the enumeration still the most deeply shattering question, …., how could atoms organize themselves so to living organisms?

This certainly very reduced question complex comes up in all the conversations with highly curious friends and acquaintances, and colleagues. Always then comes for me my appearance as an astrophysicist. I never shy away from these justified questions. On the contrary, then it goes into the high points of a discussion with several rounds.

I would have preferred to say now, „boxing match“ over twelve rounds……and here it is really not about a premature fight end, but about the attempt to bring everything very generally understandably across.

It is a matter of finding answers – generally understandable…….and of course without a highly scientific basic attitude built, acquired appearance; or an attitude, a behavior, or a demeanor.

Remain calmly a very simple person –
But do not forget – simplify yes, but remain scientifically correct and knowledgeable.

Before I immediately start with my explanation to the current model of the cosmology so some of you will ask again a question to be expected:

How do you know or more neutrally expressed, do you know all this actually, how can you be so sure with the very hot big bang ? !

For it we make temporally a hundred years long backward step into the 20th century. Very simple if one knows where to…..

It is the again and again described „golden twenties“ ?…..and as it often occurs in movies, a boxer and lawyer and astronomer made a name for himself. With name „Edwin Hubble!

He became quite suddenly the successful fighter for the laws of nature…..

…and slowly to another question.

How do we actually know all this?

I begin times in the explored order. They were already very memorable days. Few, but they really brought down a long known world view. In addition, it was a very ironic event. For it was a former prizefighter who delivered the decisive knockout blow.

……and now to the thing, butter with the fishes !!!…..(like the Westphalian) would say.

This Edwin Hubble mentioned before by me, had observed a special class of giant stars over a not insignificant time away, today better known as Cepheids.

These, in fact, change their enormous luminosity periodically – typically within a few days – for this reason Hubble tracked them over millions of light years to the interior of our neighboring galaxies.

Variable luminosity was an underlying theory, and he was now able to compile the distance and velocity of these objects into a diagram.

Edwin Powell Hubble (1898 – 1953)

Why did Hubble choose very luminous objects? Because they are observable over long distances. The Cepheids are very bright, and they also have another extremely useful property: Their luminosity can be theoretically calculated.

If something can be calculated, we always ask ourselves, who is behind it. Who has provided quasi for the calculation? ….the suitable theory and the untiring research we owe Henrietta Leavitt.

Ever heard of her ? I like to say with pride, I go down completely warm when finally a woman appears in the solution of a theory.

I can’t help but tell you a little more about this woman’s life and work, so I’m putting this post about her under the following heading:

Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the Key to Measuring the Universe !!!!

Henrietta Leavitt was a more or less extremely tragic figure. She suffered from a strange disease. Her sense of hearing deteriorated at a young age, so much so that her career goal – to become a concert pianist – literally burst at an early age. While studying music, this woman had taken „astronomy“ as a minor, because quite incidentally, this study fit ideally into her self-chosen weekly schedule. …just incredibly perky, just astronomy and music paired. But her disability was getting worse, and what did she do? Yes, of course, she made a virtue of her need and earned her living at the Harvard Observatory by evaluating photographic plates. You hear it right, from photoplates!!!!!!!!!

But her highest accuracy in her work, and diligence in the execution of something quite certain, namely meticulousness and power of concentration were simply legendary and not to be surpassed ( today one would say „topping“) 1912 – thus after thousands of evaluated photo plates – she had discovered a relationship between the periodicity of the Cepheid radiation and its absolute luminosity.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 – 1921)

So I assume that a few years later Edwin Hubble knew how strong these stars radiate where they are. He compared this then with the radiation which arrives with us on the earth. It is surely difficult for you to understand now, that he could determine the distance from the before mentioned ratio….naturally too scientifically !

But therefore something easier to understand, this principle knows everyone of you from „a burning fire“. So the further you go away from the fire, the less heat radiation hits your body, but closer to the fire you will be pleasantly warmer.

So, according to the experiment, in double distance of a radiating body I get only 1/4 of the radiation. In triple distance 1/9. From this results very simply the following theorem:

The intensity decreases with the square of the distance and thus the distance can be calculated.

Let us consider the intensity curve of a light source. For example, if we measure at a distance r the number of photons falling per second on a screen of the size 1m², then for the same number at double distance four times the area and at triple distance nine times the area is needed. Imagine this experiment vividly.

Now I simply presuppose that we know how strong the radiation is directly at the fire shock or directly at a certain star surface. Henrietta Leavitt succeeded in the breakthrough. With the calculation of the Cepheid luminosity standardized beacons in up to ten million light years distance were available to her. But what must also be said for quicker comprehension, even before she had developed her own theory, distance measurements were limited to a hundred light years. What a difference! At that time one was not even sure whether the Magellanic Clouds or the Andromeda galaxy are to be counted to the Milky Way

or not.

To her praise it must be added, she had specially developed a new measuring method, but as always in this man’s world, it was unfortunately not named after her, but it received the designation Harvard standard. Women had at the beginning of the last century still a very heavy state, or better said, not the trace of an equal state in the science.( typical for the man’s world)

……….and today ?????

What comes next is almost beyond my comprehension.It was not until a few years later that the Nobel Prize Committee wanted to honor her groundbreaking achievements; for at the end of her noble work she had discovered more than 2,400 variable stars and observed four supernovae. However, and unfortunately, Henrietta Swan Leavitt had already died four years before her „planned“ nomination at the age of 53 from the still incurable disease „cancer“ and, as is well known, the award is not given after the death of an outstanding scientist or -in. As I said, she was a truly tragic figure in every sense of the word. In view of the radiant discoverers in the natural sciences, it is all too easy to forget the many individual fates in the background.

I truly cannot stop talking about these admirable people now. They remained scientifically very persevering during their lifetime and what was always present with them, …the perpetual „curiosity“. Because this characteristic makes us the almost perfect living being ( human being )….which is always looking for the( „Why is this so and not different“ ).

So if we look for curiosity, then the next „discoverer“ – Edwin Hubble – immediately comes to my mind again. What else is there to say about this person ?

He has discovered not only the distance of astronomical objects, in addition to the distance also their escape speed determined.

Now I make, or must even make a detour into the spectral analysis. Atoms of the most different chemical elements have the property to emit radiation in quite certain portions. These energy levels are exactly defined in the electron shell and one speaks then of spectral lines. These spectral lines are called in the physical jargon also often their fingerprint and what still facilitate added, they can be measured in every laboratory designed for it also……this of course for every atom type.

Let us consider an atom with its orbits. It is an atom before and after the transition of an electron from one (the third) to another (the second) orbit around the atomic nucleus. Many of you can remember now surely still several school lessons !…..

Let’s go back to school for a moment, can’t hurt…..But first briefly this description of the interesting material.

Spectral analysis is a method of investigation in which one can conclude from an examination of the spectrum which substances were involved in the formation of the spectrum.

….very dry isn’t it? …and now differently…

As early as 1814, Joseph von Fraunhofer, observing our solar spectrum at the time, found that dark lines could be seen at certain points. From this, Robert Wilhelm Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhof developed spectral analysis years later. Thanks to this important „analytical instrument“, it is possible to recognize the chemical composition of objects without having to physically examine them. This usable possibility is today straight and naturally for astronomers an important procedure, if one considers that celestial bodies, due to their immense distance or high temperature, are not touchable. With this method, it is nevertheless possible to gather information about the chemical substances that make up stars. The progressive development of spectral analysis made the leap from classical astronomy to astrophysics. Edwin Hubble did not have it so easily in his time in his work, it lacked the today’s scientific tool.

Nevertheless, his explored has entered seamlessly into the astronomy and astrophysics.

New topic but still belong to spectral analysis :

– Absorption lines and emission lines-

Now we look a little more intensively into the physics of atoms. Objects consist of elements. Elements basically react in a unique way to light. Thereupon you can analyze their spectrum and when you have done that, you find out, some of them absorb!!!! even light particles……and it happens with every element that we know, for example, always only at a very specific point. It is also always only very specific wavelengths. It appears in the corresponding spectrum in the form of a dark line.

This line is called the absorption line.

There are other elements, they emit light particles only in a very specific place and of course again only in a very specific wavelength!!! – one calls them emission lines, which are visible however again as bright line. One applies this principle and thus recognizes the elements of which an object is composed by the absorption or emission lines appearing in the spectral analysis.

I will go into more detail and hopefully become clearer…….

Electrons which are just on higher orbits possess a little bit more energy, accordingly the difference is released at the transition in form of a photon (emission line). Thereby each wavelength corresponds to a certain energy. Short wavelength means high energy, long wavelength means low energy.

The reverse process, in which atoms take energy from a given spectrum to distribute it in their internal structure, is called absorption. In this process, for example, an electron is deflected to a higher orbit. The corresponding energy is subsequently missing from the initial spectrum. These characteristic black lines are called absorption lines. Emission and absorption lines are thus combined under the generic term „spectral lines“.

What are the practical applications of spectral analysis ?

Here it becomes now completely interesting !!! Because you read already I speak of the plural „applications“.

Application 1.)

Initially, the spectral analysis was applied to visible light, which was directed through a prism or a grating…and this application is also often found with ultraviolet and infrared light. In fact, the thermal effect of an arc causes a reaction of the chemical elements of an object, which either absorb or reflect them. This behavior allows the user to determine the chemical composition of an object.

Application 2)

As you know, it is not so easy to explore and above all to judge something that is so damn far away from our planet !!!!!!.

….and this is what the world of astronomy and astrophysics has written under its nails. The „spectral analysis“ finds „here“ or better „there“ its strongest application. It is quite simply expressed the best means to explore strange and distant stars, suns or if you will objects.
The science explores and analyzes with the help of the spectral analysis the surfaces and the chemical substances of far distant stars. One knows thus from what substances they consist, what is in their immediate atmosphere. This is not all. By the shift of the absorption lines, one receives also information about the speed, with which stars move to the earth or away from it.  Also about temperature and density of the elements, whose spectrum is analyzed, important data are obtained.

Now I have given myself very extensively to this subject, and always find I can not only take off my hat, (am not a hat wearer), but I can only admire it…!!!!! whom you may ask ?


He already made use of all this back in the twenties of the 19th century and was able to enlighten the astronomy of that time, to make it more usable for those who came after and will still come.

A still remarkable statement to the end of part 2……

These „researched“ wavelengths of the spectral lines of far distant objects are shifted in contrast to our laboratory values, however!!!
This indicates a so-called escape velocity, or better we derive from it :

Caution, the term „velocity“ is to be treated separately ! ….aber more about this in part 3 !!! follows soon…

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