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ASTR101: Introduction to Astronomy

Unit 7: The Big Bang Theory of the Early Universe   In this unit, you will be introduced to the history of our current model of the early universe, the big bang, and some of the evidence supporting.  This is not a model of the origin of the universe; those conditions transcend our present state of knowledge.  Rather it is a description of the very early universe.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 9 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 2.5 hour

☐    Subunit 7.3: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4: 2 hours

☐    Assessment: 1 hour

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to: - Compare and contrast Lemaitre’s model of the early universe with Gamow’s. - Identify the two most significant predictions of the big bang model. - Compare and contrast the big bang model with the steady state theory of the universe. - Identify the single most important evidence in favor of the big bang. - With respect to the cosmic background radiation, identify the contributions made by Gamow, Dicke, Penzias, and Wilson.

7.1 Abbe George Lamaitre and the Prediction of a Finite Age for the Universe   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 7: The Big Bang Theory of the Early Universe” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 7: The Big Bang Theory of the Early Universe” (PDF)

 Instructions: This article provides an overview of the material we
will cover in Unit 7.  Read it carefully, but please don’t think
that you have to fix every single fact into your memory.  What you
should strive for is to be sure that it makes sense to you as you
are reading it and that when you are finished you can briefly
summarize the main points of the reading.  You should read this both
as you start and after you have finished working your way through
the unit.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.
  • Reading: The American Museum of Natural History: Steven Soter and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmic Horizons: “Georges Lemaitre, Father of the Big Bang” Link: The American Museum of Natural History: Steven Soter and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmic Horizons: “Georges Lemaitre, Father of the Big Bang” (HTML)

    Instructions: This excerpt discusses Lemaitre’s involvement in developing the ideas that eventually became known as the big bang.

    Reading this excerpt should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Big Bang Introduction” Link: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Big Bang Introduction” (YouTube)

    Instructions: This video discusses the big bang and, in particular, misconceptions associated with it.  It develops a 2-D analogy to help you understand the misconceptions.

    Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.2 George Gamow and the Big Bang Model of the Early Universe   - Reading: National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Universe 101: “Tests of Big Bang: The CMB” Link: National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Universe 101: “Tests of Big Bang: The CMB” (HTML)

 Instructions: This article discusses the predictions of the big
bang regarding the production of the cosmic microwave background
radiation and its eventual discovery.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 20 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Universe 101: “Tests of Big Bang: The Light Elements” Link: National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Universe 101: “Tests of Big Bang: The Light Elements” (HTML)

    Instructions: This article discusses the predictions of the big bang regarding the productions of light elements in the early universe and how the actual abundances of these elements in the universe today match those predictions.

    Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.3 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson   - Reading: PBS: “Penzias and Wilson Discover Cosmic Microwave Radiation 1965” Link: PBS: “Penzias and Wilson Discover Cosmic Microwave Radiation 1965” (HTML)

 Instructions: This article discusses the discovery of the cosmic
background radiation.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: YouTube: “Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Evidence for the Big Bang” Link: YouTube: “Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Evidence for the Big Bang” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Neil deGrasse Tyson is to popular astronomy today what Carl Sagan was a generation ago.  In this video, he discusses the discovery of Penzias and Wilson.  There is a good bit of footage here of Penzias and Wilson and some narration by Wilson.

    Watching this video should take approximately 5 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 6 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 7 Assessment” (PDF)

    Instructions: When you have finished the entire unit, please complete this assessment without referring to the readings.  When you are finished with the assessment, you can check your answers against the Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 7 Assessment – Answer Key” (PDF).

    Completing this assessment should take approximately 1 hour.