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Steady-State Theory

Cosmic Background Radiation

In the mid 1960s, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were working on a low noise (static) microwave antenna when they made an accidental discovery of cosmic significance. After doing everything possible to eliminate sources of noise, including cleaning out nesting pigeons and their waste, there was still a small noise component left. This weak noise did not vary with direction or with the time of day or year, because it was cosmic in origin. It also corresponded to a temperature of 3K (-518°F; -270°C, three degrees above absolute zero,). This 3K cosmic background radiation turned out to be the leftover heat from the initial big bang that had been predicted by proponents of the big bang theory as early as the 1940s.

Because this cosmic background radiation was a prior prediction of the big bang theory, it provided strong evidence to support the big bang theory. Proponents of the steady-state theory have been unable to explain in detail how this background radiation could arise in a steady-state universe. The cosmic background radiation therefore gave the steady-state theory its most serious setback. Penzias and Wilson received the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics for their work.


Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Spectroscopy to Stoma (pl. stomata)Steady-State Theory - Cosmological Assumptions, Evolution Of The Universe, Expansion Of The Universe, Cosmic Background Radiation, Steady-state Theory - Cosmological observations