Oscillating Universe Theory
By Christian Mittelstaedt
An expanding universe
An expanding universe

Most people believe in the “Big Bang” theory, which is the theory that the universe started in a huge explosion, that tossed out debris which eventuallyy developed into galaxies, planets, and everything we know to exist. This theory says that the universe keeps on expanding from that explosion to this day, and that it will continue to do so forever.

The oscillating universe theory, which was developed by Richard Tolman, is similar but with a few important differences. The major difference is that eventually the expansion of the universe will slow down, stop and then start contracting back upon itself, until it crunches back together in what is called the "Big Crunch". After this the cycle begins all over again with another Big Bang, then a Big Crunch ect. This appeals to many people, as this would mean an endless universe.

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The Oscillating Universe Theory is not widely believed to be correct. One of the many reasons is that many believe that there is no competent theory explaining how an expanding-contrasting universe could occur, as there isn't believed to be enough matter to create a gravitational pull that could cause the universe to colapse upon itself. Also, even if the theory is correct, it doesn't propose a creation theory, but a theory which pushes the actual creation farther and farther back.

Another reason that scientists are sceptical of the theory is that recent observations by astronomers show the expansion of the universe to be speeding up, rather than slowing down and starting to contract. What this could mean is that the universe, completely opposite from oscillating, could be expanding faster and faster over time. Unfortunately, if this were the case, the universe would eventually become huge, cold, and barren (more so), a prospect that some find very unapealing.

If the oscillating universe theory is presumed to be correct, one of the important questions to be asked is how much time exists between consecutive big bangs and big crunches. Our universe is estimated to be 15-18 billion years old, and it is showing no sign of slowing down. This could mean that the universe could keep on expanding for billions and billions of years, at which point the universe would be unbelevably big (one of the reasons the oscillating universe theory was first investigated was to find a theory where the universe wouyld never really die, or grow huge), and our sun may be dead.

The oscillating universe theory may be a good way to explain what happened before the bang, but it will not be embraced
A graph on the oscillating universe theory
A graph on the oscillating universe theory
by scientists until the many holes in the theory are patched up. If the universe really will turn around and contract, why is the expansion speeding up? How is the universe going to be pulled together? Where would all the gravity needed come from? How did the universe actually start? When will the current universe stop expanding? All these questions need to be answered.

Maybe the universe will eventually be reborn. Maybe it will keep on expanding forever. If the above kinks are worked out, maybe the answer will be found very soon.