WMAP map of cosmic microwave background anisotropy, from the mission's Data Release 1.
WMAP map of cosmic microwave background anisotropy, from the mission's Data Release 1.

Cosmic Queries – Big Bang Bonanza with Brian Keating

NASA/Goddard/WMAP Science Team, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

What happened before The Big Bang? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Matt Kirshen answer questions about inflation theory, multiverses, the cosmic microwave background, the formation of our universe, and the possible end of the scientific method with cosmologist Brian Keating. 

When did the need for inflation theory start? We travel back to the 1920s and the origins of our expanding universe. What’s the difference between inflation and expansion? Discover quantum fields, quantum fluctuations, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and dark energy. What sparked the Big Bang? What caused the irregularities in the cosmic microwave background?

What was Albert Einstein’s biggest blunder? What was the early universe like? We explore what plasma is and why it’s the cosmic microwave background and not other wavelengths. Find out about debates in cosmology about the impacts of inflation theory? Is it bad for society to accept inflation? We discuss the concept of the multiverse and how an article in Scientific American has led to a geek fight. 

Does inflation theory spell the end of the scientific method? How much of the universe expanding will be factored into interstellar travel? What are some new discoveries from the BICEP project? Learn about efforts to prove inflation theory, cosmic acceleration, and the different versions of multiverse theory. Did our universe start and end with The Big Bounce? If the CMB is expanding outward, how can we see it if it’s past us? Finally, will it ever be possible to see beyond our horizon?

Thanks to our Patrons Jack McCarty, Mira Killian, David, Colleen OLeary, Kelia Hamilton, Lucas Charlston, Brad Z, Clueless Gamer, Billy, and larry hall for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.