By Alex P. Vidal
HOLLYWOOD, California – A major goal of astronomy has been to determine the age of the universe. Astronomers have been forced to accept imprecise estimates because of uncertainties in the data used in their calculations, according to The Five Biggest Ideas in Science co-authors Charles Wynn and Arthur Wiggins.
According to them, one technique for making estimates involves running the expansion of the universe in reverse, as though it were a movie film.
In the reversed movie, instead of moving away from each other, galaxies approach one another. They explain that the age of the universe in this scenario is the time it takes for the galaxies to meet simultaneously, re-creating the primeval fireball.
“Assuming that the rate at which the universe is now expanding has been constant (and, thus, the rate in reversal is constant), the age of the universe can be calculated from the distances separating the galaxies now and the rate at which the universe is expanding,” write Wynn and Wiggins.
According to early data, the age of the universe was estimated at 2 billion years. But this value was inconsistent with the Earth’s estimated age of over 4 billion years! Subsequent data gave the universe an age of about 20 billion years.
Recently, the previously accepted age of the universe came under serious question because of more precise data obtained from the Hubble space telescope.
These data resulted in a much lower estimated age, 12 to 15 billion years. This age has created a crisis in astronomy as earlier estimates and the theories associated with them are reconsidered in light of the new findings.