Articles - Documentaries

The Universe Beyond the Big Bang

From Shaman to Scientist, this documentary attempts to piece together the starting point of every atom, star, and galaxy in our expanding universe. Exploring the cosmic evolution since 13.7 billion years ago.

In this Documentary professors of physics and astronomy explore questions of the origin of the universe. Historical, religious views to scientific discoveries, here are presented some points from the documentary.

Establishing a relationship to nature, primitive people attempted to connect to the heavens as the home of the gods, to make sense of the universe. Simple structures were created, instruments of observation such as stonehenge were made to connect and observe the movements of the heavens.

Astronomy predicted the movement of the stars, while Astrology predicted how those movements affected us and the natural world. These ideas merged in the ancient mind.

Astronomers divided the sections of the sky as early at 6th century B.C. in what we now know as the constellations.

Ancient Greeks recognized two types of stars. Most were fixed, small and moved together, while a few were larger and seemed to move haphazardly. Five were visible to the naked eye. These were re planets which they named after their gods. Today we’re more familiar with their Roman designations: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

Ancient astronomy assumed a concept of the universe proposed by 4th century BC philosopher, Aristotle that imagined a world at the center of the universe, with the Sun, Moon and planets all revolving around it elegantly in perfect, crystaline sphere in layers.

1st century astronomy Ptolemy’s system predicted the behavior of the planets. He attempted to accurately trace the paths of the planets using a measure of epicycles so he could predict their prescribed paths and changing velocities, reliably predicting the behaviour of the planets.

After the collapse of Rome in 476AD, Astronomy lost ground. Europe fragmented into smaller powers, and much of the wisdom of the Greeks was lost.

During the 15th century AD, the idea of Heliocentrism claimed the sun was actually at the center of the universe rather than the earth. This horrified Christian clergy who felt it contradicted the word of God. If “God created earth and man in his own image, then earth and it’s devout inhabitants, must be the center of everything”. Ironically Copernicus was a devout Church Deacon, but also worked on Astronomy. He was troubled by Ptolemy’s complex heavenly mechanics, but he found an elegant solution by removing the earth from the center of the system and instead replaced the center with the Sun.

Copernicus pointed out the size of the planets orbit directly correlated with its speed. Copernicus also insisted the earth rotated on an axis fully, every day creating the illusion of stars rotating around the earth. Afraid of Church reprisal, Copernicus refrained from publishing his theory until he was on his deathbed in 1543.

Copernicus’ book paved the way for Kepler, “The Champion of Observational Science”, who trumpeted to the world the Sun had to be the center of the universe.  Through his calculations he realized, that not only was the sun the center of the solar system, but the perfect circles were also a figment. Kepler improved on the Copernican system, hypothesizing that the planets traveled not in perfect circles but in elipses around the sun. He also noticed as planets approached the sun they sped up, and further away they slowed down. This data led to much more accurate predictions.

However, another riddle remained. How did the proximity to the sun influence the speed of the planets?

At the turn of the 17th century Galileo took the theories of Copernicus and Keplar, that the Sun was at the center, and proved them right with a revolutionary tool, The Telescope. With magnification of 30 times, he saw the heavens more clearly than anyone had before beyond the naked eye, seeing thousands more stars, a cratered moon, and phases of Venus like the Moon, proving it revolved around the Sun.

Centuries of Church dogma claiming the earth was the center of the universe was evidently wrong. Galileo’s discovery seemed to undermine scripture, thus dangerous to the Church and thus to Galileo who proposed it.

Galileo, a devout Catholic, published his findings in a book called “The Starry Messenger” in 1610. Surprisingly the Church welcomed Galileo’s findings at first. Ultimately, Galileo’s downfall was not his inability to sway the Church to his way of thinking but rather this attempt at interpreting scripture independent of the Church. The Church concerned with perceived threats to its own power, could not concede biblical interpretation to Galileo.

In 1633, after Galileo published a new book championing a sun centered system, the Pope summoned Galileo to stand trial for heresy and forced to give up all his Copernican ideas before the tribunal in house arrest outside Florence.

Shortly before his death in 1642, he stumbled upon a clue of why the Sun influenced the movement of the planets. His last published work dealt with properties of falling bodies which always accelerated at the same rate no matter what their mass. Isaac Newton later explained the mechanism by which the planets moved along with everything else, as gravity. Although he understood the laws that govern gravity, he never understood Why it works.

200 years later, Albert Einstein would rival Newton’s genius, not only creating new laws of physics, but reinventing the universe. Born in Germany in 1879, Albert Einstein may be the most famous scientist that ever lived because of his discoveries of relativity, linking space and time.

This is just the beginning of the documentary. Much more to watch and discover. Enjoy.


One thought on “The Universe Beyond the Big Bang

  1. Latest thinking is that our unverse is just one of many universes, with other universes out there beyond ours.

    My personal belief is that our universe (and others along with ours) are existing at this astonmical scale, with objects (planets, stars, asteroids, etc. all movng about in a basically concentric patersn.  When we scale down to the subatomic level, we see similar structures of “objects” moving in similar patterns.  So, I believe that our universe is possibly just some atom in the table leg of some gigantic piece of furniture in the scaled up continuum of universes and atoms and sub particles that extnds in both upscale deriction and downscale direction.  So, I expect that there is some civilization living on some electron or photon or other subatomic partcle at a much tynier scale and with a time lapse of nano seconds.  In other words, not only does the physical dimension scale up and down, but so does time.

    Let your mind soar and consider the possibilites which at this point may seem ludicrous, but that may be only because we simply don’t know yet.


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