The Universe

Origin of the Universe

Who developed the idea of a “hot” Big Bang?

The Russian-born American physicist George Gamow (1904–1968) furthered the Big Bang model by including the distribution of energy in the universe. If such a bang had occurred, he argued, the universe would have been incredibly hot very soon after the bang—somewhere in the area of trillions upon trillions of degrees. As the universe expanded, the heat in the universe would become distributed over a larger volume, and the temperature would go down. After one second, the average cosmic temperature would drop to about a billion degrees; after half a million years, the average temperature would be a few thousand degrees; and so on. Gamow showed, however, that even after billions of years had passed, this background heat would persist. After about 13.7 billion years—the current age of the universe—it would appear as a background radiation field that would be just a few degrees above absolute zero. Gamow predicted that this cosmic background radiation could be detected by its microwave radiation. In 1967 the cosmic microwave background radiation was indeed discovered.


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