Conversations Beyond Science and Religion – Beyond the Inflationary Big Bang
The universe began with the Big Bang, right? But how did this chaotic, random event lead to an ordered, balanced universe? Recognizing this problem, in the 1980’s, cosmologists developed a new theory called the inflationary Big Bang. This new model called for the early universe to inflate at super-warp speed in the blink of an eye; if this occurred, cosmologists said, it would be possible for the Big Bang to have produced the universe we live in without needing finely-tuned initial conditions. So the inflationary Big Bang made its way into college textbooks, television documentaries, and popular science books. Professor Paul Steinhardt, of Princeton University, is one of the leading theorists who refined the inflationary model into the form it appears today. In a recent Scientific American article, however, Professor Steinhardt raises serious doubts over the inflationary model, showing that it actually requires more fine-tuning than the original Big Bang theory. So where does cosmology go from here? On this show, Professor Steinhardt, along with host Philip Mereton, traces the development of the Big Bang theory and discusses what lies ahead for cosmology.