Universe: Cold Big Bang


Published: January 13, 2008, 12:00 am
Revised: April 21, 2009, 8:42 pm Author(s): Sten Odenwald

Topics:Cosmology, The Universe


By 1927, Georges Lemaitre had attempted to understand the origin of atoms in nature by proposing that before the expansion of the universe started there existed a primeval atom consisting of all the matter in the universe crushed to nuclear densities. It formed a gigantic ball of nuclear liquid which existed in this state at very low temperature. The low temperatures were required to keep this cosmic atom from falling apart via thermal agitation. But this fluid broke-up anyway under mechanical instabilities, into a mist of microscopic particles. He estimated that only 260 binary divisions would be needed to convert the cosmic mass into atom-sized particles. This idea was pursued by Maria Meyer and Edwin Teller, but ultimately this idea couldn’t explain why the universe should expand, or where the light elements came from.

“…if matter existed as a single atomic nucleus, it makes no sense to speak of space and time in connection with this atom. Space and time are statistical notions that apply to an assembly of a great number of individual elements; they were meaningless notions, therefore, at the instant of first disintegration of the primeval atom…”   — Georges Lemaitre.

A variant on Lemaitre’s cosmology was proposed in 1966 by David Layzer, developed a short-lived alternate to Hot Big Bang cosmology by proposing that the initial state was near absolute zero. The  motivation for proposing such an initial state, reminiscent of Lemaitre’s initial state. Through thermodynamic arguments, Layzer argued that rather than the universe starting in a high entropy state, it began in a very low entropy state near Absolute Zero. It was matter-dominated with little free radiation, and the conditions were favorable for the formation of galaxies via fragmentation. The famous Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation discovered by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in 1965 was produced much later when galaxies were forming in a dusty environment.

Related Articles

External Links

  • Big bang theory is introduced, 1927 – People & Discoveries, PBS.
  • David Layzer is a Harvard astrophysicist who in the early 1970’s made it clear that in an expanding universe the entropy would increase, as required by the second law of thermodynamics, but that because the number of phase-space cells was also increasing, the maximum possible entropy of the universe might increase faster than the actual entropy increase… The Information Philosopher.
  • Georges Lemaitre – Wikipedia.
  • Tests of Big Bang: The Cosmic Microwave Background – Universe 101, Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), NASA.
  • The Universe is Born – This NASA video segment describes the origin of the universe and explains the formation of stars. Viewers learn that stars are formed by condensed hydrogen gas, that thermonuclear reactions within stars create new stars, and that most stars travel in clusters. Continuous color animation, supported by audio descriptions, illustrates these processes. (The information in this video was accurate as of the original publication date, 1976.) NASA Education, NASA.

Preview Image

Illustration of the primeval atom from which the universe may have originated from The Universe is Born – NASA Education, NASA.


Odenwald, Sten, Ph.D. (Contributing Author); Bernard Haisch (Topic Editor). 2009. “Universe: Cold Big Bang.” In: Encyclopedia of the Cosmos. Eds. Bernard Haisch and Joakim F. Lindblom (Redwood City, CA: Digital Universe Foundation). [First published January 13, 2008].

1 Comments Add Comment


  • Posted by Carol ingfield on April 21, 2011 3:53 pm Brazilian Physicist seems to have debunked de Hot Big Bang Cosmology:

    Brazilian physicist seems to have solved the cosmological problem. In a paper published by the american journal of Physics Progress in Physics [Assis, Armando V.D.B. On the Cold Big Bang Cosmology. Progress in Physics, 2011, v. 2, 58-63]:


    , the author seems to solve the Einstein field equations with one extra postulate in which he argues that the Dark erergy arises from an illusion due to a persistent Heisenberg uncertainty claiming that the energy content os the universe is totally due to Heisenberg fluctuation. With this, he obtains the correct value of the black body background temperature of 2.7 Kelvins as well the fitting of the cosmological data.

    Also, the author seems to go via an alternative route in which the conservetion of energy is weakened by a lack of application of the Noether’s theorem (in author’s words). Since the subject is important and connected to the entropy problem and to the energy problem, I think this claimed results should have some further comments within the Big Bang subject.