Across the Universe: Perturbing the Universe
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  This column first ran in The Tablet in April 2014 A member of our Vatican Observatory community, Fr. Bill Stoeger, died of cancer last month [2014]. I could say that Bill was both the smartest man and the holiest man I have known; but he would have rejected that characterization out of hand. So I will only say that his goodness and his genius never ceased to move me. He’s the only person I know who could work the mathematics of the Big Bang, and also direct retreats for religious women. Bill’s religious faith did not control the science he did, but how he did it. For example, more often than not he collaborated with scientists from the developing world – South Africa and Brazil in particular. And he showed a special patience with those members of our scientific community who could be brilliant but eccentric and sometimes hard to deal with. His scientific output was astonishing. At Cambridge … Continue reading

A Few Minutes after the Big Bang
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Within the first few minutes following the Big Bang, all of the building blocks of matter in the universe had been made. Fortunately, enough matter was produced to give us the 100 billion galaxies with their requisite 100 billion stars each, the planets, comets and asteroids and so on, because no additional matter was made since this special epoch in cosmic history. We think the universe arose from what we call the Big Bang. This was a special kind of explosion. If you could magically be there at that time hoping to witness the fireworks and remark on the shape of it (like a mushroom cloud?) you would have been disappointed. This is because the explosion was so large that it incorporated all of space simultaneously. There would be no vantage point clear of the heart of the blast. In the first thousandth of a second following the Big Bang, the temperatures were so high, about 100 billion degrees, that … Continue reading