An article in the 24 January 2015 issue of New Scientist trumpets, “Ancient echoes speak to us from the big bang.”1 According to that headline, there are “ancient
echoes” and they are “speak[ing] to us from the big bang.” Surely this must be further evidence for the Big Bang Theory.
And yet, as one reads through the article, he cannot be faulted for concluding that this is a very misleading headline indeed. According to the opening paragraph, “Hear that? Echoes bouncing around might be carrying messages from shortly after the big bang.” Might be. Shouldn’t the headline read, “Ancient echoes might be speaking to us from the big bang”?
It gets far worse. We read that “Eduardo Martin-Martinez of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and his colleagues think they have found another, better-preserved source of clues about the universe.” Think they have found. And why do they think they have found this? Well, “They calculated that events which produce photons….also create certain echoes in the electromagnetic field.” So it’s an idea from a calculation, and not something that has actually been found in the real world. Why E M-M and his colleagues think they have actually “found” a source of clues, then, is not clear.
Not to worry! Fortunately, “the team imagined someone in the early universe sending a message into the distant future by creating a series of echoes and using them to encode a string of 0s and 1s.” So it doesn’t matter that the echoes are just a postulate based on a calculation, because we can imagine space aliens using them. That’s all right, then.
After that, we read that “The challenge is to figure out precisely what form the echoes will take and how to build receivers that can pick them up” – which is a rather stark admission that no such echoes have actually been found, which means that there are no “Ancient echoes speak[ing] to us from the big bang.”
The article finishes with Avi Loeb of Harvard telling us that “it’s an interesting idea, but still quite theoretical. ‘The authors need to give us specific examples of observables that would show their effect.'” Well, yes, if they did that, and if we then succeeded in finding such “observables,” then – and only then – we could say that “Ancient echoes speak to us from the big bang.” But they didn’t, and we haven’t.
The only mystery in all this is why New Scientist would headline this with article the clearly unsustainable claim that “Ancient echoes speak to us from the big bang.”
© 2015, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.
1 Aron, Jacob. “Ancient echoes speak to us from the big bang.” New Scientist 225:3005, 24 January 2015, p.9