"For thousands of years, people have wondered about the universe. Did it stretch out forever or was there a limit? And where did it all come from? Did the universe have a beginning, a moment of creation? Or had the universe existed forever? The debate between these two views raged for centuries without reaching any conclusions. Personally, I’m sure that the universe began with a hot Big Bang. But will it go on forever? If not, how will it end? I’m much less certain about that. The expansion of the universe spreads everything out, but gravity tries to pull it all back together again. Our destiny depends on which force will win."
— Stephen Hawking
How did the universe really begin? Most astronomers would say that the debate is now over: The universe started with a giant explosion, called the Big Bang. The big-bang theory got its start with the observations by Edwin Hubble that showed the universe to be expanding. If you imagine the history of the universe as a long-running movie, what happens when you show the movie in reverse? All the galaxies would move closer and closer together, until eventually they all get crushed together into one massive yet tiny sphere. It was just this sort of thinking that led to the concept of the Big Bang.
Part One - Seeing is believing
Part Two - In the beginning
Part Three - Cosmic alchemy
Part Four - On the dark side
Part Five - Black holes and beyond
Part Six - An answer to everything
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