The big bang and all the rest: The geometry of the universe, the formation of the first light chemical elements, cosmology and quantum gravity

This page features an overview of all our Spotlights dealing with cosmology. In the category Basics, you will find some more information about the big bang models, their predictions and cosmological observations, notably about the cosmic background radiation. Under Cosmology and quantum gravity there are some texts about the cosmological consequences of the current attempts to describe quantum theory and general relativity in a unified setting. Physics in the background features a Spotlight giving background information that is useful for a deeper understanding of the Spotlight texts presented on this page.

Useful background information can be found in our introduction Elementary Einstein, especially in the chapter Cosmology.


A tale of two big bangs

In cosmology, “big bang” has two different meanings – and if you want to understand what’s going on, you should be aware of that difference.

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The shape of space

The different space geometries allowed by the big bang models – do we live on a hypersphere?

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The mathematical universe

Why cosmology is not only a matter for astronomers and physicists, but also for mathematicians

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The cosmic background radiation

Cosmic Sound: Curvature and the cosmic background radiation

How the spatial geometry of the universe can be derived by observing the cosmic background radiation

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The first chemical elements

Big Bang Nucleosynthesis: Cooking up the first light elements

How the first nuclei of helium, lithium and other light elements were cooked up shortly after the big bang

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Equilibrium and Change: The physics behind Big Bang Nucleosynthesis

The physics behind Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, the period shortly after the big bang that saw the first production of light elements such as helium and lithium

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Elements of the past: Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and observation

How to reconstruct the abundances of light elements shortly after the big bang, and thus test some important predictions of the big bang models against observation

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Cosmology and quantum gravity

More information about possible cosmological consequences of the attempts to formulate a theory of quantum gravity.

Searching for the quantum beginning of the universe

About attempts to understand the beginning of our universe using different approaches to quantum gravity

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Avoiding the big bang

The collapsing and then re-expanding quantum universe that loop quantum gravity offers as a replacement of the standard big bang models

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Taming infinity with loops

How loop quantum gravity could replace the absurd state of infinite density, the big bang with which, according to Einstein’s relativity, the universe began

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Physics in the background

Heat that meets the eye

The connection between temperature and the emission of electromagnetic radiation, as well as the consequences for stars, matter disks around black holes, and cosmology

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