The Big Bang and Gamow

John K Clark (
Mon, 3 Nov 1997 20:05:23 -0800 (PST)


On Tue, 04 Nov 1997 Damien Broderick <> Wrote:

>I should have gone to my shelf. Here's Geo., in THE CREATION OF THE
>UNIVERSE (1952):

>`Thus when the universe was 1 second old, 1 year old, and 1 million
>years old, its temperature were 15 billion, 3 million, and 3 thousand
>degrees absolute, respectively. Inserting the present age of the
>universe (t=10^17 sec) [...] we find
>Tpresent = 50 degrees absolute
>which is in reasonable agreement with the actual temperature of
>interstellar space.' (p. 48)

After finding yet another quote in a book called "The Big Bang" by Joseph
Silk saying that in 1948 a 5 degree K temperature prediction was made I
thought I had you, then I checked your quotation from Gamow's own book found
you were absolutely correct. I'm wrong.

But not entirely wrong, apparently there was a 5 K prediction made in 1948
using Gamow's theory, but it was not made by Gamow.

- From "Exploring the Cosmos" by Louis Berman page 361:

"It's [the cosmic blackbody radiation] possible existence had been first
theoretically predicted by G. Gamow in 1934 and later elaborated upon by
R. A. Alper and R. C. Herman in 1948."

- From "The Evolution of Radio Astronomy" by J.S. Hey page 174:

"His [Gamow's] research students, Alper and Herman (1949), estimated the
residual temperature of the cosmic radiation after expansion at about 5K".

- From "Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos" by Dennis Overbye page 132:

"In a paper published in NATURE in 1949, two of his [Gamow's] disciples,
Ralph Alpher and Robert Herman calculated that the present day temperature
of the universe should be about 5K."

Evidently the paper was submitted in 1948 and published in 1949. Alper and
Herman also predicted that about 25% of the universe should be made of Helium,
and it is.

John K Clark

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