Finding the Big Bang by Lyman A. Page Jr., P. James E. Peebles, and R. Bruce Partridge


04589427ea0bf37-261x361.jpeg Author Lyman A. Page Jr., P. James E. Peebles, and R. Bruce Partridge
Isbn 9780521519823
File size 6MB
Year 2009
Pages 596
Language English
File format PDF
Category astronomy



 

This page intentionally left blank FINDING THE BIG BANG Cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole, has become a precise physical science, the foundation of which is our understanding of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) left from the big bang. The story of the discovery and exploration of the CMBR in the 1960s is recalled for the first time in this collection of 44 essays by eminent scientists who pioneered the work. Two introductory chapters put the essays in context, explaining the general ideas behind the expanding universe and fossil remnants from the early stages of the expanding universe. The last chapter describes how the confusion of ideas and measurements in the 1960s grew into the present tight network of tests that demonstrate the accuracy of the big bang theory. This book is valuable to anyone interested in how science is done, and what it has taught us about the large-scale nature of the physical universe. P. James E. Peebles is Albert Einstein Professor of Science Emeritus in the Department of Physics at Princeton University, New Jersey. Lyman A. Page, Jr. is Henry DeWolf Smyth Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics at Princeton University, New Jersey. R. Bruce Partridge is Marshall Professor of Natural Sciences at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. FINDING THE BIG BANG P. JAMES E. PEEBLES, Princeton University, New Jersey LYMAN A. PAGE JR. Princeton University, New Jersey and R. BRUCE PARTRIDGE Haverford College, Pennsylvania CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521519823 © Cambridge University Press 2009 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published in print format 2009 ISBN-13 978-0-511-51655-9 eBook (EBL) ISBN-13 978-0-521-51982-3 hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urls for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. To the memory of Dave Wilkinson for his leadership in measuring the fossil radiation Contents Preface page xi List of contributors xiv 1 Introduction 1 2 A guide to modern cosmology 9 2.1 The expanding universe 10 2.2 The thermal cosmic microwave background radiation 16 2.3 What is the universe made of? 18 3 Origins of the cosmology of the 1960s 23 3.1 Nucleosynthesis in a hot big bang 23 3.2 Nucleosynthesis in alternative cosmologies 34 3.3 Thermal radiation from a bouncing universe 40 3.4 Interstellar molecules and the sea of microwave radiation 42 3.5 Direct detection of the microwave radiation 44 3.6 Cosmology in the early 1960s 51 3.6.1 The steady state cosmology and the cosmological tests 53 3.6.2 Light elements from the big bang 58 3.6.3 Radiation from the big bang 60 3.6.4 Galaxy formation 66 3.6.5 The situation in the early 1960s 67 4 Recollections of the 1960s 69 4.1 Precursor evidence from communications experiments 70 4.1.1 David C. Hogg: Early low-noise and related studies at Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, NJ 70 4.2 Precursor evidence from interstellar molecules 74 4.2.1 Neville J. Woolf: Conversations with Dicke 74 4.2.2 George B. Field: Cyanogen and the CMBR 75 vii viii Contents 4.2.3 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Patrick Thaddeus: Measuring the cosmic microwave background with interstellar molecules Precursor evidence from element abundances 4.3.1 Donald E. Osterbrock: The helium content of the universe The path to the hot big bang in the Soviet Union 4.4.1 Yuri Nikolaevich Smirnov: Unforgettable Yakov Zel’dovich 4.4.2 Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov: Cosmology in the Soviet Union in the 1960s 4.4.3 Andrei Georgievich Doroshkevich: Cosmology in the 1960s 4.4.4 Rashid Sunyaev: When we were young ... 4.4.5 Malcolm S. Longair: Moscow 1968–1969 Detection at Bell Laboratories 4.5.1 Arno Penzias: Encountering cosmology 4.5.2 Robert W. Wilson: Two astronomical discoveries The Bell Laboratories–Princeton connection 4.6.1 Bernard F. Burke: Radio astronomy from first contacts to the CMBR 4.6.2 Kenneth C. Turner: Spreading the word – or how the news went from Princeton to Holmdel Developments at Princeton 4.7.1 P. James E. Peebles: How I learned physical cosmology 4.7.2 David T. Wilkinson: Measuring the cosmic microwave background radiation 4.7.3 Peter G. Roll: Recollections of the second measurement of the CMBR at Princeton University in 1965 4.7.4 R. Bruce Partridge: Early days of the primeval fireball Developments at Cambridge 4.8.1 Malcolm S. Longair: Cambridge cosmology in the 1960s 4.8.2 John Faulkner: The day Fred Hoyle thought he had disproved the big bang theory 4.8.3 Robert V. Wagoner: An initial impact of the CMBR on nucleosynthesis in big and little bangs 78 86 86 92 92 99 107 108 132 144 144 157 176 176 184 185 185 200 213 221 238 238 244 258 Contents Martin Rees: Cosmology and relativistic astrophysics in Cambridge 4.9 Critical reactions to the hot big bang interpretation 4.9.1 Geoffrey R. Burbidge and Jayant V. Narlikar: Some comments on the early history of the CMBR 4.9.2 David Layzer: My reaction to the discovery of the CMBR 4.9.3 Michele Kaufman: Not the correct explanation for the CMBR 4.10 Measuring the CMBR energy spectrum 4.10.1 Jasper V. Wall: The CMB – how to observe and not see 4.10.2 John R. Shakeshaft: Early CMBR observations at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory 4.10.3 William “Jack” Welch: Experiments with the CMBR 4.10.4 Kazimir S. Stankevich: Investigation of the background radiation in the early years of its discovery 4.10.5 Paul Boynton: Testing the fireball hypothesis 4.10.6 Robert A. Stokes: Early spectral measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation 4.10.7 Martin Harwit: An attempt at detecting the cosmic background radiation in the early 1960s 4.10.8 Judith L. Pipher: Being a young graduate student in interesting times – Ignoring the forest for the trees 4.10.9 Kandiah Shivanandan: The big bang, brighter than a thousand suns 4.10.10 Rainer Weiss: CMBR research at MIT shortly after the discovery – is there a blackbody peak? 4.11 Structure in the distributions of matter and radiation 4.11.1 Yu Jer-tsang: Clusters and superclusters of galaxies 4.11.2 Rainer K. Sachs: The synergy of mathematics and physics 4.11.3 Arthur M. Wolfe: CMBR reminiscences 4.11.4 Joe Silk: A journey through time 4.11.5 George F. R. Ellis: The cosmic background radiation and the initial singularity ix 4.8.4 261 267 267 275 279 280 280 288 293 296 302 323 329 339 340 342 361 361 364 368 371 379 x Contents 4.12 Measuring the CMBR anisotropy 4.12.1 Ronald N. Bracewell and Edward K. Conklin: Early cosmic background studies at Stanford Radio Astronomy Institute 4.12.2 Stephen Boughn: The early days of the CMBR – An undergraduate’s perspective 4.12.3 Karl C. Davis: Going the “easy” direction – and finding a lot of the wrong thing 4.12.4 Paul S. Henry: Driven to drink – pursuit of the cosmic microwave background radiation 5 Cosmology and the CMBR since the 1960s 5.1 The CMBR energy spectrum 5.2 The aether drift 5.3 The CMBR intrinsic anisotropy spectrum 5.3.1 Theoretical concepts 5.3.2 Advances in the anisotropy measurements and analysis 5.4 The cosmological tests 5.5 Lessons Appendix Glossary References Index 385 385 393 397 401 408 412 424 434 434 447 465 475 478 510 531 561 Preface This is the story of a major advance in science, the discovery of fossil radiation left from the early stages of expansion of the universe – the big bang. Colleagues in informal conversations now only vaguely recalled led us to realize that this story is particularly worth examining because it happened in what was then a small line of research, and one that still is relatively simple compared to many other branches of physical science. That makes it well suited for an examination of how science actually is done, warts and all, in all the details – usually too numerous to mention – recalled by many of the people who did the work. All the main steps in this story – the prediction, detection, identification, and exploration of the properties of the fossil radiation from the big bang – have been presented in histories of science. But these histories do not have the space (or the aim) to give an impression of what it was like to live through those times. We sense a similar feeling of incompleteness in many histories of science written by physicists, as well as by professional historians and sociologists. And there is a well-established remedy: assemble recollections from those who were involved in the work. An example in the broader field of cosmology – the study of the large-scale structure of the universe – is the collection of interviews in Origins: the Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists (Lightman and Brawer 1990). We follow that path, but in more detail in a more limited line of research. Early studies of the fossil radiation involved a relatively small number of people in what has proved to be a considerable advance in establishing the physical nature of the universe. This means we could aim for complete coverage of recollections from everyone involved in the early work who is still with us. We did not reach completeness: we suppose it is inevitable that a few colleagues would have reasons not to want to take part. We are fortunate, however, that almost everyone we could contact was willing to xi xii Preface contribute recollections. All are well along in life now, but they have not slowed down; all had to break away from other commitments to complete their assignments. We are deeply indebted to the contributors for taking the time and trouble to make this collection possible, and for their patience in enduring the lengthy assembly of the book. We are grateful to participants also for help in weeding out flaws in the introductory chapters, the collection of essays, the concluding chapter and Appendix which both treat what has grown out of the early work, and the Glossary that is meant to guide the reader through the story. We have also benefited from advice from those who started working in this subject more recently and have taken part in its growth into the present large and active science we outline in the concluding chapter. Their stories are important, but to keep the numbers manageable in the style of this book we had to impose a limit to recollections from people who were involved in this subject before 1970. That is when activity started gathering strength for the next leaps of technology and theory in increasingly large research groups. Rashid Sunyaev was an invaluable guide to contacting contributors in Russia. We are grateful for help in the discussion in Chapter 3 of early measurements of the microwave radiation background from Eiichiro Komatsu and Tsuneaki Daishido, who led us to Haruo Tanaka’s recollections of his work in Japan, from James Lequeux, who recalls early work in France, Virginia Trimble, who gives a picture of Gamow’s thinking, and Jasper Wall, who led us to Covington’s work in Canada. We have descriptions of the origins of the critical radiation energy spectrum measurements from Mark Halpern, Michael Hauser, and Ed Wishnow, and of the development of ideas on the distortion of the radiation spectrum from Ray Weymann. Ed Cheng helped us trace the origins of the WMAP satellite mission. We thank Steve Boughn, Josh Gundersen, Shaul Hanany, Gary Hinshaw, Norm Jarosik, Al Kogut, Paul Richards, John Ruhl, Suzanne Staggs, and Juan Uson for their help in entering and correcting the tabulation of experiments in Table A.3 in the Appendix, though of course all remaining errors are of our doing. We are grateful to Neta Bahcall, Joanna Dunkley, Brian Gerke, Toby Marriage, Jerry Ostriker, Will Percival, Bharat Ratra, David Spergel, Paul Steinhardt, and Ned Wright for help and advice on the cosmological tests; Michael Gordin for his instructions on similar collections of personal histories in other fields of science and on the lessons to be drawn from them; Mike Lemonick for help with his interview of David Wilkinson and his guidance to the art of communicating science; and Tatiana Medvedeva and Marina Anderson for their translations. Ned Conklin, Michael Fall, Masataka Fukugita, Martin Harwit, Michael Hauser, Malcolm Longair, Alison Peebles, Preface xiii Bharat Ratra, and John Shakeshaft were particularly helpful guides to the presentation of the science and history of this subject, and to a substantial reduction of the error rate. They certainly do not share the blame for our remaining flaws of commission and omission. Some steps toward the organization of this project ought to be recorded. Bernie Burke, Lyman Page, Jim Peebles, Alison Peebles, Tony Tyson, Dave Wilkinson, Eunice Wilkinson, and Bob Wilson met in Princeton on 9 February 2001, for an informal discussion over dinner of the story of the detection and identification of the fossil radiation. Wilson’s written notes agree with Peebles’ undocumented recollection of the general consensus that the story is worth telling. But we all returned to other interests. In a second attempt to get the project started, George Field, Jim Peebles, Pat Thaddeus, and Bob Wilson met at Harvard on 8 August 2003. This led to a proposal that was circulated to some 12 proposed contributors. (The number is uncertain because we did not keep records.) It yielded three essays – they are in this collection – but attention again drifted to other things. The third attempt commenced with a discussion between Bruce Partridge and Jim Peebles in September 2005 at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. That discussion led to a blunt actuarial assessment: if the story were to be told in a close to complete way it would have to be done before too many more years had passed. That generated the momentum that led to completion of the project. We sent a proposed outline of the book with an invitation to contribute to 28 people on 7 December 2005. As one might expect, the outline for the book continued to change after that as we better understood what we were attempting to do. A more unsettling change is that although we had given the list of contributors careful thought, we continued to identify people who ought to contribute: we have in this book some dozen additions to the December 2005 list. A simple extrapolation suggests we have forgotten still others: we likely have not been as complete as we ought to have been. We hope those we inadvertently did not include will accept our regrets for our inefficiency. We hope all who did contribute to this book, in many ways, are aware of our gratitude. Many of the figures were made for this book, whereas some were made by the contributors many years ago. Where we have reason to think a figure was published elsewhere and the rightsholder is not the contributor we have obtained permission to reproduce. We apologize in advance for any omissions in this procedure. List of contributors J. Richard Bond Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics University of Toronto Ontario, Canada Edward K. Conklin Honolulu, HI, USA Stephen Boughn Department of Astronomy Haverford College Haverford, PA, USA Andrei Georgievich Doroshkevich Astro Space Center Moscow, Russia Karl C. Davis Richland, WA, USA George F. R. Ellis Mathematics Department University of Cape Town Cape Town, South Africa Paul Boynton Department of Physics University of Washington Seattle, WA, USA John Faulkner Astronomy and Astrophysics Department University of California Santa Cruz, CA, USA Ronald N. Bracewell STAR Lab, Stanford University Stanford, CA, USA Geoffrey R. Burbidge Department of Physics University of California San Diego, CA, USA George B. Field Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University Cambridge, MA, USA Bernard F. Burke MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research Cambridge, MA, USA Martin Harwit Cornell University Washington, DC, USA xiv List of contributors Paul S. Henry AT&T Laboratories Middletown, NJ, USA David C. Hogg Boulder, CO, USA Michele Kaufman Department of Physics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA David Layzer Belmont, MA, USA Malcolm S. Longair Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK Jayant V. Narlikar IUCAA, Pune, India Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov Astro Space Center, P.N. Lebedev Physics Institute, Moscow, Russia Donald E. Osterbrock Lick Observatory University of California Santa Cruz, CA, USA R. Bruce Partridge Department of Astronomy Haverford College Haverford, PA, USA xv Judith L. Pipher Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA Martin Rees Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK Peter G. Roll Georgetown, TX, USA Rainer K. Sachs Department of Mathematics University of California Berkeley, CA, USA John R. Shakeshaft St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK Kandiah Shivanandan Bethesda, MA, USA Joe Silk Department of Physics University of Oxford Oxford, UK Yuri Nikolaevich Smirnov Russian Research Center “Kurchatov Institute” Moscow, Russia P. James E. Peebles Department of Physics Princeton University Princeton, NJ, USA Kazimir S. Stankevich Radiophysical Research Institute Nizhny Novgorod, Russia Arno Penzias New Enterprise Associates Menlo Park, CA, USA Robert A. Stokes Versa Power Systems, Inc. Littleton, Colorado, USA xvi List of contributors Rashid Sunyaev Max-Planck-Institut f¨ ur Astrophysik, Garching Germany, and Space Research Institute Moscow, Russia Patrick Thaddeus Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University Cambridge, MA, USA Kenneth C. Turner Carrollton, GA, USA Robert V. Wagoner Department of Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA Jasper V. Wall Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Rainer Weiss LIGO Group, MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research Cambridge, MA, USA William “Jack” Welch Department of Astronomy University of California Berkeley, CA, USA David T. Wilkinson Department of Physics Princeton University Princeton, NJ, USA Robert W. Wilson Harvard-Smithsonion Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University Cambridge, MA, USA Arthur M. Wolfe Department of Physics, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA Neville J. Woolf Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA Jer-tsang Yu Office of the CIO, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR China 1 Introduction This is an account of the discovery and exploration of a sea of thermal radiation that smoothly fills space. The properties of this radiation (which we describe beginning on page 16) show that it is a fossil, a remnant from a time when our universe was denser and hotter and vastly simpler, a very nearly uniform sea of matter and radiation. The discovery of the radiation left from this early time is memorable because, as is often true of fossils, measurements of its properties give insights into the past. The study of this fossil radiation has proved to be exceedingly informative for cosmology, the study of how our universe expanded, cooled, and evolved to its present complicated condition. The discovery of the fossil radiation grew out of a mix of lines of evidence that were sometimes misinterpreted or overlooked, and of ideas that were in some cases perceptive but ignored and in other cases misleading but entrenched. In the 1960s, it was at last generally recognized that the pieces might fit together and teach us something about the large-scale nature of the universe. We introduce the accounts of how this happened by explaining the lines of research that led up to the situation then. The story of what happened when the pieces were put together in the 1960s is told through the recollections of the people in the best position to know – those involved in the research. We have essays by most who took part in the recognition that this fossil exists, its properties may be measured, and what is measured may inform us about the nature of the physical universe. This did not happen all at once; nor was it done by a single person; nor was it always done knowingly. The collection of essays tell what happened in all the richness and complexity we suppose is typical of any activity that people take seriously. The last part of this book describes how the developments in the 1960s led to the search and discovery of methods of accurate measurement of the properties of the fossil radiation and of methods of interpreting what 1 2 Introduction is measured. This part of the story is told in a more orderly way – it is concerned with research directed to the solution of relatively well-posed problems – but it is no less rich. It shows how advances in technology and in the strategies of its application can dramatically increase our understanding of the world around us. Look into the details of any other significant development in science and you are likely to find a story as rich and complicated as the discovery and exploration of the fossil radiation. Thus we offer this example of a particular advance of science as a lesson on the nature of the scientific enterprise. We can tell the story of the fossil radiation in finer detail than is usually done because this is a small slice of science, much of which played out not that long ago, with a relatively small number of actors. And because cosmology still is a relatively new science, it has not yet become exceedingly technical: we can explain the developments in words accessible to a nonspecialist who is willing to read carefully.1 We believe this account is an instructive example for anyone who takes an interest in the nature of science and how it has led to our present understanding of the physical world. The stories of search and discovery that scientists usually tell each other in books and scientific journals are much more schematic than what is presented here. Scientists as well as historians and sociologists complain about the distortions and simplifications that slight the wrong paths taken and understate the painstaking learning curves that experimentalists, observers, and theorists follow as they sometimes find better paths. But “tidied up” stories do serve a purpose in helping us keep track of the central ideas as well as reminding us that our subject does have a history. As a practical matter this is about the best scientists generally can do. Those who know what actually happened seldom are willing to take the time from research to tell it in detail; even if they did the rest of us would have little time to spare to read about it; and when we did we would find it difficult to pick out the threads that led to advances rather than dead ends. But it is important to have some examples that take the opposite tack: explore what happened in detail. This is our purpose in describing the discovery and exploration of the properties of the fossil radiation left from what we will term the “hot big bang.” The contributors to our set of recollections of what happened when the clues to the fossil radiation were put together in the 1960s have had a broad 1 There are equations, for the pleasure of those who like them, but the equations that appear in the main text are not needed to understand the situation: the accompanying words are meant to convey the sense of the ideas. The more specialized mathematics and comments in footnotes and the Glossary are intended for specialists.

Author Lyman A. Page Jr., P. James E. Peebles, and R. Bruce Partridge Isbn 9780521519823 File size 6MB Year 2009 Pages 596 Language English File format PDF Category Astronomy Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole, has become a precise physical science, the foundation of which is our understanding of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) left from the big bang. The story of the discovery and exploration of the CMBR in the 1960s is recalled for the first time in this collection of 44 essays by eminent scientists who pioneered the work. Two introductory chapters put the essays in context, explaining the general ideas behind the expanding universe and fossil remnants from the early stages of the expanding universe. The last chapter describes how the confusion of ideas and measurements in the 1960s grew into the present tight network of tests that demonstrate the accuracy of the big bang theory. This book is valuable to anyone interested in how science is done, and what it has taught us about the large-scale nature of the physical universe.     Download (6MB) An Introduction to Modern Cosmology (3rd edition) The Shape of Space In Search of the Big Bang Theoretical Astrophysics: Volume 3, Galaxies And Cosmology Post-Planck Cosmology: Lecture Notes of the Les Houches Summer School: Volume 100, July 2013 Load more posts

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