The Age of the Universe

The idea that the universe started with a ´Big Bang´ billions of years ago is widely believed, Current estimates of the age of the universe range from 10 billion to 20 billion years, although some scientists have pushed the age as far back as 70 billion years. What is not generally known, though, is that the universe simply cannot be anything like as old as billions of years. In fact, it cannot even be millions of years old. Why not? A brief look at some of the objects in the universe will tell us the answer.

1. Globular Clusters: These are tightly-knit groups of stars, numbering many thousands. These clusters are so bright at the center that they give the impression of being a solid, starry mass, appearing to thin out gradually from the center. One - the Hercules Globular Cluster - contains at least 50,000 stars. Evolutionary astronomers claim that it is at least 5,500 million years old.

In fact they claim that the globular clusters are composed of some of the oldest stars in the universe, Yet there is very strong evidence that these globular clusters are only thousands, rather than millions, of years old. Take the globular clusters within our own galaxy - the Milky Way - for example. These clusters are moving so fast that they would escape from our galaxy altogether in 1 million years, yet they are still within it. Therefore, they must be younger than that. The spherical shape of the globular clusters also presents a problem for the proponents of a vast age for the universe. The gravitational pull of our galaxy upon them should distort them towards the center of the galaxy. That they show no distortion suggests they have not been in existence for a length of time, One astronomer, Harwitt, has described this as ´an astronomical anomaly.´ (1)

A further problem concerns the solar wind which all stars, like our own sun, possess. Although the solar wind from one star is not very large, when multiplied by the total number of stars within a cluster, over a period of time this would amount to a very large quantity of matter. It has been calculated that in a cluster of 1 million stars, in only 10 million years there would be a build-up equal to 50 times the mass of our own sun! This gas could be easily detected, but it is just not there. This means that the globular clusters are nowhere near 10 million years old! When we note that astronom-ers call these clusters ´the oldest astronomical objects´ what does this tell us about the age of the universe?

2. Spiral Galaxies: Probably the most beautiful objects in the heavens are the spiral galaxies. Astronomers have no satisfactory explanation of their origin. Some say that the spirals evolved from elliptical galaxies. Others say they are evolving into elliptical galaxies. The spiral galaxies are rotating at the rate of about one rotation every 100 million years. This has the effect of slowly ´winding up´ the galaxy. The appearance of the spirals suggests they have completed only one or two rotations, limiting their ages to a maximum of 200 million years. This is, of course, much older than most creationists would accept, but remember, this is assuming that the arms of the galaxies were not wound up at all when they were formed. If they were created in much the same form as they appear, they could be quite young. Some galaxies are ´barred spirals´, and there is no known force that could preserve these bars of material for any length of time.

3. Clusters of Galaxies: Galaxies are made up of millions of stars, but these galaxies themselves are found together in clusters, Our own Milky Way belongs to a group of about 19 galaxies. Some galaxies have bridges of material between them, yet they are moving apart at speeds of 13,000 miles a second, These £ bridges´ would not be there if the galaxies had been moving apart for a vast period of time. Furthermore, half a million years ago, these galaxies would have been touching one another, So they must be younger than this. A further problem is what astronomers call ´the missing mass´, 98% of the mass required to keep the clusters of galaxies together is missing. There ought to be a large and detectable amount of gas and dust within these clusters, but it is not there. Some have suggested that there are ´black holes´ within these clusters, providing the holding force needed, but they would need to be so large and numerous that they would be easily detected.

Concerning the ´missing mass´, one specialist has written: ´We have reached an impasse; inevitably some cherished scientific principle must fall.´ (2) That ´cherished principle´ should be the belief that these galaxies, and our whole universe, is thousands of millions of years old. None of these problems arise, however, if we accept that the universe - and all the objects within it - was created by God, in much the state we find it today, a few thousand years ago.

Because Galaxies Are Billions of Light-Years Away, Isn´t the Universe Billions of Years Old?

The logic behind this common question has several hidden assumptions. Probably the most questionable assumption is that starlight has always traveled at the same speed. Has it? Has the speed of light always been 186,000 miles per second or, more precisely, 299,792.458 kilometers per second? One simple test is to compare the historic measurements of the speed of light.

Historical Measurements. During the past 300 years, at least 164 separate measurements of the speed of light have been published. Sixteen different measurement techniques were used. Astronomer Barry Setterfield of Australia has studied these measurements, especially their precision and experimental errors.(3) His results show that the speed of light has apparently decreased so rapidly that experimental error cannot explain it! In the seven instances where the same scientists remeasured the speed of light with the same equipment years later, a decrease was always reported. The decreases were often several times greater than the reported experimental errors.

M. E. J. Gheury de Bray, writing in the official French astronomical journal in 1927, was probably the first to propose a decreasing speed of light.(4) He based his conclusion on measurements spanning 75 years. Later, he became more convinced and twice published his results in Nature,(5) possibly the most prestigious scientific journal in the world. He emphasized, ´If the velocity of light is constant, how is it that, invariably, new determinations give values which are lower than the last one obtained ... There are twenty-two coincidences in favour of a decrease of the velocity of light, while there is not a single one against it.´(6)

Although the measured speed of light has decreased only about 1% during the past three centuries, the decrease is statistically significant, because measurement techniques can detect changes thousands of times smaller. While the older measurements have greater errors, the trend of the data is startling. The farther back one looks in time, the more rapidly the speed of light seems to increase. Various mathematical curves fit these three centuries of data. When some of those curves are projected back in time, the speed of light becomes so fast that light from distant galaxies conceivably could have reached Earth in several thousand years.

No scientific law requires the speed of light to be constant. Many simply assume it is constant, and of course, changing old ways of thinking is sometimes difficult. Russian cosmologist, V. S. Troitskii, at the Radiophysical Research Institute in Gorky, is also questioning some old beliefs. He concluded, independently of Setterfield, that the speed of light was 10 billion times faster at time zero! (7) Furthermore, he attributed the cosmic microwave background radiation and most redshifts to this rapidly decreasing speed of light. Setterfield reached the same conclusion concerning redshifts by a different method. If either Setterfield or Troitskii is correct, the big bang theory will fall (with a big bang).

Other cosmologists are proposing an enormous decay in the speed of light.(8) Many of their theoretical problems are solved if light once traveled millions of times faster.

Surprising Observations. Starlight from distant stars and galaxies is redshifted-meaning that their light is redder than one might expect. Although other interpretations are possible, most astronomers have interpreted redshifted light to be a wave effect, similar to the lower pitch of a train´s whistle when the train is going away from an observer. As the wave emitter (train or star) moves away from an observer, the waves are stretched, making them lower in pitch or redder in color. The greater a star´s or galaxy´s redshift, the faster it is supposedly moving away from us.

Since 1976, William Tifft, a University of Arizona astronomer, has found that the redshifts of distant stars and galaxies typically differ from each other by only a few fixed amounts.(9) This is very strange if stars are actually moving away from us. It would be as if galaxies could travel only at specific speeds, jumping abruptly from one speed to another, without passing through intermediate speeds. If stars are not moving away from us at high speeds, the big bang theory is wrong, along with many other related beliefs in the field of cosmology. Other astronomers, not initially believing Tifft´s results, did similar work and reached the same conclusion.

All atoms give off tiny bundles of energy (called quanta) of fixed amounts-and nothing in between. So Setterfield believes that the ´quantization of redshifts,´ as many describe it, is an atomic effect, not a strange recessional velocity effect. If space slowly absorbs energy from all emitted light, it would do so in fixed increments. This would redshift starlight, with the farthest star´s light being redshifted the most. Setterfield is currently working on a theory to tie this and the decay in the speed of light together. If he is correct, the redshifts of some specific, distant galaxies will undergo abrupt decreases. This may explain why two distinct redshifts are seen in each of several well-studied galaxies.(10) Those otherwise typical galaxies are not flying apart!

Another surprising observation is that most distant galaxies look remarkably similar to nearer galaxies. For example, galaxies are fully developed and show no signs of evolving. This puzzles astronomers. If the speed of light has decreased drastically, these distant, yet mature, galaxies no longer need explaining.

Also, the light from a distant galaxy would have reached earth not too long after the light from nearby galaxies. This may be why spiral galaxies, both near and far, have similar twists [see figure].

Figure: Spiral Galaxies. The arms in these six representative spiral galaxies have about the same amount of twist. Their distances from Earth are shown in light-years. One light-year, the distance light travels in one year, equals 5,879,000,000,000 miles. For the light from all galaxies to arrive at Earth tonight, the more distant galaxies had to release their light long before the closer galaxies. Therefore, the farther galaxies did not have as much time to rotate and twist their arms. Conversely, closer galaxies should have the most twist. Of course, if the speed of light was a million times faster in the past, the farthest galaxies did not have to send their light long before the nearest galaxies. Spiral galaxies should have similar twists. This turns out to be the case. The galaxies are: A) M33, or NGC 598; B) M101, or NGC 5457; C) M51, or NGC 5194; D) NGC 4559; E) M88, or NGC 4501; and F) NGC 772.

A Critical Test. If the speed of light has decreased a millionfold, we should observe events in outer space in extreme slow motion. Here is why.

Imagine a time in the distant past when the speed of light was a million times faster than it is today. On a hypothetical planet, billions of light-years from Earth, a light started flashing toward Earth every second. Each flash then began a very long trip to Earth. Because the speed of light was a million times greater than it is today, those initial flashes were spaced a million times farther apart in distance than they would have been at today´s slower speed of light.

Now, thousands of years later, imagine that throughout the universe, the speed of light has slowed to today´s speed. The first of those light flashes -strung out like beads sliding down a long string-are approaching Earth. The large distances separating adjacent flashes have remained constant during those thousands of years, because the moving flashes slowed in unison. Because the first flashes to strike Earth are spaced so far apart, they will strike Earth every million seconds. In other words, we are seeing past events on that planet (the flashing of a light) in slow motion. If the speed of light has been decreasing since the creation, then the farther out in space we look, the more extreme this slow motion becomes.

About half the stars in our galaxy are binary. That is, they and a companion star are in a tight orbit around their common center of mass. If there is a ´slow-motion effect,´ the apparent orbital periods of binary stars should tend to increase with increasing distance from Earth. If the speed of light has been decreasing, the Hubble Space Telescope may eventually find that binary stars at great distances have very long orbital periods, showing that they are in slow motion.

Quasars and Redshifts

The belief that the universe is expanding is one of the pillars of the Big Bang theory and the ´redshift´ of starlight is claimed as proof of this expansion.. Light from distant galaxies is displaced towards the red end of the spectrum - the ´Doppler Effect´. This is also noticeable with sound waves. If a police car passes you with its siren sounding, the pitch gets lower as the sound waves are stretched out. The redshift of galaxies, therefore, is taken as evidence that they are moving away from us, and the further away they are, the faster they appear to be receding. There are other interpretations of the redshift and research into quasars has cast serious doubt upon the standard view. (Galaxies approaching us would produce a redshift if they also had a transverse motion, or were spiralling towards us at high speed.)

An Energy Problem. Quasars (short for Quasi-stellar objects) are extremely bright, yet relatively small, and their redshift indicates that they are the most distant objects in the heavens as much as 13 billion light-years in one case. Therein lies an enigma: quasars appear to be no larger than our solar system, yet have a total energy output up to 10,000 times that of an entire galaxy! Whilst most cosmologists struggle to find an explanation, a few have dared to suggest that quasars are really quite close to us, and that their redshift has nothing to do with distance. One astronomer who has challenged the view that quasars are the most distant objects in the universe is Halton C. Arp who worked at Palomar Observatory. In the 1960s he began to notice that quasars generally appeared to be unusually close to certain types of galaxies as though they had some connection with them.

Further investigation revealed that in many cases the quasars were physically connected to the galaxies by bridges of material. Yet their redshifts indicated that the quasars were many times further away from us than the galaxies they were connected to! In one instance the quasar Markarian 205, with a redshift velocity of 13,000 miles/second is connected by a bridge of material to galaxy NGC 4319, which has a redshift velocity of only 1100 miles/second. According to the Hubble Law - the yardstick astronomers use to measure distance - the galaxy is 107 million light years away, whilst the quasar is 12 times further away, at 1.2 billion light years. Arp has photographed and catalogued a large number of similar quasar-galaxy associations, and those interested should see his book Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies(11) for full documentation (see figure).

These observations convinced Arp and a few other observers, such as Prof. Geoffrey Burbidge, that the standard explanation that redshift is due to the Doppler effect must be wrong. Arp writes:

´It is a cruel fact of life that whatever the current official theory is, it must explain all the observed facts. A single, well-founded contradictory observation will suffice to topple the whole edifice. But we have seen that the conventional theory that galaxy redshifts can only be due to Doppler velocity has been violated not just once, but in numerous, independent instances.´(12)

Chains of Galaxies. Arp discovered that quasars often appeared to be in line with chains of galaxies or attached to the spiral arms by filaments of luminous gas, and proposed the theory that quasars were actually ejected from the centres of these galaxies. He also found that galaxies in a chain often had discordant redshifts, even though they were members of the same group. His conclusions suggest that quasars are actually quite close to us, which solves the energy-output problem, but destroys the whole basis of the expanding universe theory, and ultimately the Big Bang itself. Astronomer William Kaufmann commented: ´If Arp is correct, if his observations are confirmed, he will have singlehandedly shaken all modern astronomy to its very foundations.´ (13)

For more informations:
- Creation's Tiny Mystery by Robert Gentry, pp. 283-295.
- In the Begining by Walter Brown.

References and Notes:
1. Harwitt: ´Astrophysical Concepts´ p.43.
2. Bruce Margon: ´The Missing Mess´, Mercury, Jan. 1975, p.6.
3. Trevor Norman and Barry Setterfield, The Atomic Constants, Light, and Time (Box 318, Blackwood, South Australia, 5051: self-published, 1987).
4. ´ The Velocity of Light,´ Science, Vol. 66, Supplement x, 30 September 1927.
5. M. E. J. Gheury de Bray, ´The Velocity of Light,´ Nature, 24 March 1934, p. 464.
- M. E. J. Gheury de Bray, ´The Velocity of Light,´ Nature, 4 April 1931, p. 522.
6. Ibid.
7. V. S. Troitskii, ´Physical Constants and the Evolution of the Universe,´ Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol. 139, No. 2, December 1987, pp. 389-411.
8. ´We have shown how a time varying speed of light could provide a resolution to the well-known cosmological puzzles.´ Andreas Albrecht and João Magueijo, ´A Time Varying Speed of Light as a Solution to Cosmological Puzzles,´ Physical Review D, 15 February 1999, p. 043516-9. [The authors state that light may have traveled thirty orders of magnitude faster than it does today!]
- ´It is remarkable when you can find one simple idea [a decaying speed of light] that has so many appealing consequences.´ John D. Barrow, Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Astronomy Centre at the University of Sussex, as quoted by Steve Farrar, ´Speed of Light Slowing Down,´ London Sunday Times, 15 November 1998.
- ´If light initially moved much faster than it does today and then decelerated sufficiently rapidly early in the history of the Universe, then all three cosmological problems-the horizon, flatness and lambda problems-can be solved at once.´ John D. Barrow, ´Is Nothing Sacred´´ New Scientist, Vol. 163, 24 July 1999, p. 28.
Two comments. First, each problem Barrow mentions is actually a reason for concluding the big bang theory is wrong. Second, no scientific law says the speed of light is a constant. It has only been assumed to be such. In fact, today it is arbitrarily defined as a constant. W.B.
9. William G. Tifft, ´Properties of the Redshift. III. Temporal Variation,´ The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 382, 1 December 1991, pp. 396-415.
10. William G. Tifft and W. John Cocke, ´Quantized Galaxy Redshifts,´ Sky & Telescope, January 1987, p. 19.
11. ´Quasars, Redshifts & Controversies´, by Halton C. Am. Cambridge University Press 1987.
12. Arp, page 88.
13. ´The Most Feared Astronomer on Earth´, Science Digest 89, (6): 76