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Creation 40(4):19, October 2018

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Real particle physics disappoints big bangers


All matter in the universe seems to be built up of 17 named fundamental particles that interact by four fundamental forces. The particles and all forces apart from gravity have been described in the ‘Standard Model’, a remarkably elegant model that has also been very successful experimentally—and is fine evidence for a mathematically elegant Design. One of its latest triumphs was the experimental discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012.1

However, its very success has been frustrating to big bang theorists. For example, it predicts that if energy is converted to matter, as is supposed to have happened in the alleged big bang, an equal amount of antimatter should be produced. But the big bang requires that matter and antimatter are opposite but not quite equal, because of the obvious observation that our universe contains mainly matter! Yet the latest experiments show no such imbalance between the proton and antiproton, even to a precision of 1.5 parts per billion.2 The Standard Model also doesn’t account for dark matter and dark energy, which in the big bang scenario should make up over 95% of the universe, but have not been observed directly.3

So over 100 physicists from over 20 institutions tried to find a ‘crack’ in the Standard Model with the ‘Q-weak experiment’, performed at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. This involved measurements of the weak force, which is responsible for the fusion reactions that power our sun and other stars, and for beta radioactive decay.4

The scientists shot very high energy electrons at protons, alternating the ‘spins’ of the electrons. The different electron spins were scattered by the weak force by a difference of a mere 226.5 parts per billion, with a precision of 9.3 parts per billion. This is like finding two identical twins 2 metres tall, differing in height by a single wavelength of blue light—with a precision the size of the smallest viruses.

The results found that the proton’s weak charge was 0.0719±0.0045, in fine agreement with the Standard Model. This was to the chagrin of many big bang advocates who were objective enough to realize that the experimental results were a problem for their theory. One of the researchers, Greg Smith, said:

We were just hoping this was one path to finding a crack in the Standard Model. … I was disappointed. I was hoping for some deviation, some signal. But other people were relieved that we weren’t far away from what the Standard Model predicted.5

This should also be a lesson to those misguided Christian apologists who ‘marry’ Genesis to the big bang. What happens if such experiments from real science undermine secular support for the big bang? They might find themselves ‘widowed’ in the future, further discrediting the misrepresentations of Scripture employed to try to fit it to the big bang.6

References and notes

  1. For more about the Standard Model in general, and the Higgs boson in particular. Mason, J., Has the ‘God particle’ been found? Scientists claim to have confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson—but fail to credit God who created it, creation.com/higgs, 7 July 2012. Return to text
  2. Sarfati, J., Big bang universe should not actually exist, Creation 40(2):55, 2018; creation.com/antimatter-missingReturn to text
  3. Hartnett, J., Big bang beliefs: busted, Creation 37(3):48–51, 2015; creation.com/big-bang-beliefs-bustedReturn to text
  4. The Jefferson Lab Qweak Collaboration, Precision measurement of the weak charge of the proton, Nature 557(7704):207–211, 10 May 2018 | doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0096-0. Return to text
  5. Cited in: Woo, M., Physicists just measured one of the four fundamental forces of nature. Now they’re bummed, livescience.com, 9 February 2018. Return to text
  6. Wieland, C., Secular scientists blast the big bang: what now for naïve apologetics? Creation 27(2):23–25, 2005; creation.com/bigbangblastReturn to text

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Dismantling the Big Bang
by Alex Williams, John Hartnett
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Refuting Compromise, updated & expanded
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati
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Exploring the World of Physics
by John Hudson Tiner
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Readers’ comments

Michael T.
I’m a YE creationist. If the big bang was ‘uncaused’, spontaneous, why haven’t any more occurred in the last 14 billion years in this universe?
Michal K.
Isn´t there a mistake in this article? I thought that nuclear fusion in the Sun is caused by the strong nuclear force, not the weak one.

By the way, I have thought of another way particle physics might contradict naturalism, although I am not sure if that´s a good argument or not. Anyway, a proton and an electron have an electric charge that is with the exact same modulus but opposite sign. But a proton and an electron are two completely different particles. For example, the mass of the proton is a lot greater than the mass of the electron. So how is it possible that two such completely different particles have the same charge but with opposite sign? This seems like a rather strange coincidence to me, although I am not sure if this is definitely a good argument.
Jonathan Sarfati
There is no mistake. I didn’t say that the weak force is the only force involved, but it definitely is important. In fact, three out of the four fundamental forces play a role in nuclear fusion. First, the electromagnetic force repels the positively charged nuclei that would fuse. So extremely high temperatures are needed to give the nuclei enough energy to overcome this repulsion. If they can get close enough, the short-range attractive strong force can overpower the repulsive electromagnetic force. This enables the fusion into another nucleus with lower binding energy than the fusing nuclei (true for atoms lower than ⁵⁶Fe). Since energy must be conserved, the lower binding energy of the new nucleus is balanced by the remaining energy released to the surroundings. This energy is also reflected by a mass defect: the new nucleus has less mass than the total of the fusing nuclei, given by E = mc². The binding energy of the strong force is millions of times that of the binding energy of electrons in atoms held by the electromagnetic force, so fusion is a far more intense energy source.

But the weak nuclear force is also usually involved. In fusion, protons must turn into neutrons to form a stable nucleus, and this reaction is mediated by the weak force. This reaction also produces positrons and neutrinos:
p⁺ → n + e⁺ + νₑ

E.g. in the sun, the net reaction is:
4 ¹H⁺ → ⁴He²⁺ + 2e⁺ + 2νₑ

The fourth fundamental force, gravity, is too weak to play a direct role. But it plays an indirect role in keeping the sun’s core compressed enough for nuclear fusion.

For your other argument, there is some plausibility to it. James Clerk Maxwell, whom an Edinburgh tour guide called the greatest Scotsman of all time, used a similar argument based on the knowledge of atoms then known to him, as explained by nuclear physicist James Mason.
Egil W.
Excellent article!

Excellent points!

Jeff B.
It’s Big Bang/Deep Time challenges like this, and many others that make me wonder why old-earth advocates even bother bringing up the Light Travel Time issue with biblical creationists. I’ll take that over the more numerous and more significant scientific and scriptural challenges deep time has.
Lester V.
I would like to suggest another option. In 1776. the idea that an object made of millions of heavier-than-air objects could defy the law of gravity, and fly, it would have been considered a miracle. Yet, that’s precisely what the space shuttle is. I suggest that perhaps a miracle is not the overruling or violating of a known law of nature, but the application of another (unknown to the observer) ‘higher’ law of nature, built into the creation by the Creator. Man’s pride and arrogance are demonstrated clearly in the claim that we know everything there is to know about our universe, and thus are qualified to tell God what He can and cannot do.
Jonathan Sarfati
The difference, as explained in the article, is that miracles by definition are extraordinary, not regular occurrences.

I also doubt that flying heavier-than-air objects were ever considered miracles. After all, people knew about literal birds and bees. Rather, such a claim seems to be something that ‘everyone knows’ but becomes impossible to trace to a reliable source. Rather like the claim that the church taught a flat earth before Columbus.

Anyway, we would like further comments from anyone to be about the topic of the article, please.
John W.
Only the power that is greater than, and existed before, material existence is capable of overriding the Laws He created to bring existence into being. They can search the universe He created, they can, using the intelligence and ability He gave them, put forward every imaginative scenario they can come up with but they will never find the answer they want. They constantly find but refuse to see in every sphere of study, the evidence of the One who is the answer to all questions, their Creator, The Great I Am Who sent His Son to defeat for eternity the Last Enemy. Without Him every part of their search is utterly illogical and painfully futile.
Jonathan Sarfati
Or as we like to say, instead of overriding the Laws, adding to the Laws. See for example:

Geoff C. W.
The only big bang around here is the long-agers’ theory once again going up in smoke.

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