In the lecture, Dr. Mather said that the cosmic background radiation mapped via COBE is about 13 billion years old and was emitted from the big bang about 300,000 years after t-zero.
(Please don't hold me to the numbers, I don't remember exactly what Dr. Mather said, so these are just ballpark numbers ... but they are good enough for the discussion below.)
It was a good talk, but on the way home I began to think.
The next day, I was lucky enough to talk to an astronomer connected to the James Webb Space Telescope which Dr. Mather had mentioned in the previous night's talk. I asked this astronomer some of the questions repeated below and explained the implications of this paradox. His response was that he would be doing some reading .....
At any rate, this page is an attempt to capture my thoughts for further discussion.
The obvious answer is
Assuming that the size of the universe at that time was less than 300,000 light years, that light should have reached the current location of the Earth in less than 300,000 years.
The fact that it took over 10 billion years to get here means that the Earth is moving AWAY from that spot on the edge of the universe fast enough that it took a lot longer for it to get here.
This is the Big Bang creation paradox.
That's right, for the universe to expand 10 billion light years in only 300,000 years would require traveling more than 30,000 times the speed of light.
To expand to that size in only a few seconds ... add more zeroes. (I think I'll pass on this theory.)
in one theory
the period of inflation responsible for the observable universe probably lasted roughly 10-33 seconds.
That's right, one of the better theories works ONLY if the expansion was much faster
than the speed of light ... I'm still passing.
Variable speed of light
Yeah, I don't buy this one either.
Actually, I don't have a problem with the speed of light changing as the universe expands ... it actually makes sense, sort of (though it is just as logical for it to slow down).
However, for this to work, the edge of the universe would still have to travel faster than the speed of light ... because the speed of light was so much slower back then.
Creation Wave Expansion
The universe is infinite and has always existed at its current size ... but only as energy. At some point in this infinite expanse, there was a disturbance that expanded at many thousands of times the speed of light. The result of this super-lightspeed wave was to produce matter from energy (matter condensation).
If this theory is correct, then the Big Bang creation event is still happening (because the wave is still propagating).
There are a few problems with this theory
An obvious objection to this is that the space inside the universe's creation wave would have already had part of its energy converted to matter and that, therefore, its "pressure" would be equal to that at the surface of the surrounding sphere. However, there are ways to further modify the theory to account for this.
This provides a scenario with multiple creation events in different parts of the uniform energy cloud, and when residual waves that no longer have the power to condense matter pass through each other, smaller creation events can happen (like constructive interference).
One interesting consequence of this approach is that the creation wave does not have to travel faster than the speed of light - the cosmic background radiation was generated about 300,000 years after the creation wave passed those points in space. If the creation wave traveled at only one tenth the speed of light, then the visible universe could be over 100 billion years old. (Maybe a bigger telescope WILL be useful.)
Hey, I said that this idea was off the wall - but it would explain the Big Bang creation paradox.
It appears that the main problem with this is that the background radiation appears almost the same from every direction - exactly what you would expect from a spherical creation wave traveling through a uniform energy field. However, it is almost impossible for anything that large to be homogeneous (which is why the standard Big Bang theory requires a singularity). Thus, this theory disproves itself (or not).
For instance, if a black hole produced a smaller creation wave, it might actually produce the matter in its galaxy.
Most models are not clear on whether this process consumes energy, produces energy, or transforms energy between different types. I like the analogy to condensing water from vapor - this always releases heat (assumed to have a black body spectrum).
The current theories consider normal matter to be only a small part of the local universe - dark matter (unexplained gravity) and dark energy (unexplained expansion forces) account for 95% of the universe. If it is possible for matter to "condense" from say dark matter (catalyzed by the creation wave), then perhaps dark energy is released ... which could then cause the universe to expand (because, then the amount of dark energy inside the creation bubble would be greater than what's on the outside).
There are many ways to suggest something of this type. Maybe there are several types of dark matter. Maybe matter condensation consumes more energy than it releases, or it release a different type of energy. And so forth - we really don't know.
Most of the theories I've read don't discuss where dark energy and dark matter come from during the Big Bang - this theory says that they are a part of the initial conditions.