Letter to the Editor


On "The Big Crunch"

Robert E. Crenshaw
Route 4, Box 1703, 
Laurens, South Carolina 29360-9437


From: PSCF 46 (June 1994): 148.                                                                   Response: Siemens

"Concerning the fate of the universe, gravity exists as a force pulling on the galaxies now hurtling out from the Big Bang, a force enormously determinative in the structure and operations of the universe, a force which will eventually pull all the galaxies back together." Such are the familiar contentions of many proponents of the "Big Crunch" theory, who have enjoyed an undeservedly high degree of popular acceptance of their view, a degree resulting from their having made much use of a widespread popular misconception, Newtonian gravity.

But as Einstein and most modern physicists have contended, the geometry of curved space-time fully accounts for effects previously and erroneously regarded as caused by an attractive or pulling force (gravity). Therefore logically it follows that no "force of gravity" is pulling on the outrushing galaxies. I challenge any of your readers, including any physicist, to dispute this.

(Incidentally, why should scientists condone this situation in which, long decades after Einstein, probably over 90% of literate people believe that Newtonian gravity represents the soundest of scientific truths, enormously determinative in the structure and operations of the universe, when it is not a scientific truth at all?)

Suppose that it is fully and finally realized that only the geometry of the intangible curvatures of space-time will cause a "Big Crunch," if such an event is ever to occur at all according to natural processes. Then, all sorts of heretofore obscured, legitimate questions will surface to complicate and cloud the popular case for the "Big Crunch." For example, in connection with speaking of the bending of space-time sufficiently to cause cosmic expansion to reverse, leading eventually to the "Big Crunch," I submit that while matter in one part of the universe might be bending space-time in one direction, matter in other parts of the universe might be bending space-time in numerous other, non-collisional directions. Clearly matter can and does bend space-time in various directions, including directions which do not necessarily result in collision of matter, for space-time is in fact so curved in countless orbital patterns throughout the universe, including that of our own planet. So countless concrete examples exist which teach that the existence of even fully closed space-time curvatures does not at all necessarily mean that matter following such curvatures must end up colliding with other matter.

Also, I submit that, even if astronomers find 500 times the amount of matter so far detected, the universe might never contract, for space-time as a whole might well be curved independently of matter (as Einstein once postulated*) and might so exist curved in some distinctive way such as will never lead to contraction of the universe as a whole. (* The Mysterious Universe, by Sir James Jeans, page 73: "Einstein... imagined [space-time] to have an inherent curvature, besides that produced by matter...")

Nor many of us, the case for any "Big Crunch" remains considerably less persuasive than the case for a Big Bang universe which was created in the absolute sense by God about fifteen billion years ago and which will continue indefinitely to expand. (Of course I hasten to say that I do not view the physical galaxies as the final home of humanity, nor do I think that our physical universe is the only universe which has ever existed or will ever exist.)