Why We Call It the Big Bang

The TV series The Big Bang Theory was named after the scientific concept that the universe suddenly sprang into existence with an explosion 14 billion years ago. But why do we call the idea that? The theory dates back to 1931, proposed by Georges Lemaître, who was both a physicist and a Catholic priest. He referred to it in shorthand as the "fireworks theory." The idea was refined in the 1940s, but was rejected by other scientists who insisted the universe has always been as it is today. Meanwhile, Einstein's Theory of relativity was adding layers of complexity to the question.

British astronomer Fred Hoyle was an avid proponent of the steady-state theory, but strangely, it was he who coined the term Big Bang. He was explaining the competing theories on a BBC radio show in 1949 and used the term to simplify the idea. Was he mocking the theory? Hoyle insists that he wasn't, but his use of the term sparked another controversy over the term itself. Only a few scientists embraced the term while most ignored it, but the public found the Big Bang useful and explanatory and the term caught on outside the scientific community. Read the strange story of how the Big Bang theory got its name at Nature. -via Damn Interesting 

(Image credit: BBC)

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