The Suitcase Lady

Bang!

February 25, 2020, 9:28 pm

I will never tire of teaching. The joy of sharing the world’s wonders with children and hearing their thoughts and questions never diminishes.

A few weeks ago, I had one of those perfect teaching moments. I was explaining basic solar system facts to 25 third graders, all great kids. One boy in particular was giving extremely knowledgeable answers to my “tough, hard, brain-breaking” questions. When it was time for the kids to ask me questions, his hand shot up and he asked, “Did the Big Bang” make a noise? You said sound does not travel without air.”

“That’s a terrific question,” I replied, “and I will have to do some research and get back to you with the answer.”

So if you ever wanted to know if the Big Bang actually went “Bang”, here are the results of my search.

A professor at Washington State University, James Crawford, devoted years on reconstructing the sound of the Big Bang. He has concluded that the sound was a robot-like hum that could not be heard by the human ear. This is because the newborn universe was plasma, not gas, and the pressure waves it produced were Ion Acoustic Waves which are inaudible to the human ear.

However, 379,000 or so years later, the universe had cooled down enough for “electrons and protons/neutrons to bind together to form atoms. Then, potentially, sound waves that could be heard by the human ear could start to propagate through clouds of gas. Unfortunately, there were no humans around then to hear that sound.

While doing this research, I came up with a delightful bit of information. James Crawford’s groundbreaking research began when an eleven-year-old at one of his science presentations asked him, “Did the Big Bang make a noise?”


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