Thirty-Three Famous Physicists Sign Angry Letter About the Origin of the Universe
Cosmologists are in the business of figuring out how and why we got here. But if you call their work unscientific, you’re sure to set off a nerve.
A recent story in Scientific American managed to irk a whole bunch of these thinkers, so much that 33 of them (four of whom have Nobel prizes) signed a letter in response. Signatories included Stephen Hawking, Leonard Susskind, Lisa Randall, and others who’ve written books and lectured to the world about how all we got here. At the center of the controversy is a popular theory that our universe inflated like a balloon right after the Big Bang. One group of scientists essentially said this theory wasn’t science—which is like calling artist’s work “not art,” or a chef’s “not food.”
Physicists Anna Ijjas and Paul J. Steinhardt from Princeton, and Abraham Loeb from Harvard, wrote the initial story, titled “Pop Goes the Universe” and published it in Scientific American this past February. They challenged inflation, a collection of scientific models first proposed by Alan Guth around 1980 positing that immediately after the Big Bang, the universe expanded exponentially like an inflating balloon before settling down into the one we live in today. The authors stated that astronomical observations have constrained inflation in a way that makes the remaining models in support of it unlikely. Instead, the authors’ story bolstered a competing theory, that the universe “bounced back” to where it is today after a collapse.
https://gizmodo.com/thirty-three-famous-physicists-sign-angry-letter-about-1795101181 (with link to the SciAm article)