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James Peebles won this year's Nobel prize in physics for helping transform the field of cosmology into a respected science, but if there's one term he hates to hear, it's "Big Bang Theory."
The leading explanation for the universe in its earliest periods has held sway for decades, with Peebles' early work investigating cosmic background radiation helping to cement many of the details.
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But "the first thing to understand about my field is that its name, Big Bang Theory, is quite inappropriate," the 84-year-old told a rapt audience at an event honoring US-based Nobel Prize winners at a Swedish Embassy event in Washington on Wednesday.
"It connotes the notion of an event and a position, both of which are quite wrong," he continued, adding there is in fact no concrete evidence for a giant explosion.
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The Nobel committee last month honored Peebles for his work since the mid-1960s developing the now prevalent theoretical framework for the young universe.
But he is careful to note that he does not know about the "beginning."
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"It's very unfortunate that one thinks of the beginning whereas in fact, we have no good theory of such a thing as the beginning," he told AFP in an interview.
By contrast, we do have a "well-tested theory of evolution from an early state" to the present state, starting with "the first few seconds of expansion"—literally the first seconds of time, which have left cosmological signatures referred to as "fossils."
Fossils - Paleontology
Fossils in paleontology mean the...
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