Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

Wikipedia describes Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation as thermal radiation filling the observable universe almost uniformly at a temperature of 2.725 K.

In cosmology, cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation (also CMBR, CBR, MBR, and relic radiation) is thermal radiation filling the observable universe almost uniformly.

With a traditional optical telescope, the space between stars and galaxies (the background) is completely dark. However, a sufficiently sensitive radio telescope shows a faint background glow, almost exactly the same in all directions, that is not associated with any star, galaxy, or other object. This glow is strongest in the microwave region of the radio spectrum. The CMB’s serendipitous discovery in 1964 by American radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson was the culmination of work initiated in the 1940s, and earned them the 1978 Nobel Prize.

Cosmic background radiation is well explained as radiation left over from an early stage in the development of the universe, and its discovery is considered a landmark test of the Big Bang model of the universe.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Wikipedia claims that “CMB essentially confirms the Big Bang theory”.
This is far from certain.

The diffuse Extragalactic Background Light [ranging from far infrared into the ultraviolet] is dominated by starlight, either through direct emission or absorption and re-radiation by dust.

The diffuse extragalactic background light (EBL) is all the accumulated radiation in the Universe due to star formation processes, plus a contribution from active galactic nuclei (AGNs). This radiation covers the wavelength range between ~ 0.1-1000 microns (these are the ultraviolet, optical, and infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum). The EBL is part of the diffuse extragalactic background radiation (DEBRA), which by definition covers the overall electromagnetic spectrum. After the cosmic microwave background, the EBL produces the second-most energetic diffuse background, thus being essential for understanding the full energy balance of the universe.

Unfortunately, there is no explanation as to why extragalactic background light [starlight] does not include microwave radiation. Similarly, there is no explanation as to why background microwave radiation is exclusively non-stellar in origin.

This strange appropriation of microwave radiation [by the Big Bang theory] is underlined by Dr Paul Marmet:

It is recalled that one of the most fundamental laws of physics leads to the prediction that all matter emits electromagnetic radiation. That radiation, called Planck’s radiation, covers an electromagnetic spectrum that is characterized by the absolute temperature of the emitting matter. From astronomical observations we observe that most matter in the universe is in the gas phase at 3 K. Stars of course are much hotter. The characteristic Planck’s spectrum, corresponding to 3 K, is actually observed in the universe exactly as required.

Wikipedia even confirms that microwave background radiation is “a nearly ideal Planck spectrum”:

The cosmic microwave background radiation observed today is “the most perfect black body ever measured in nature”.[49] It has a nearly ideal Planck spectrum at a temperature of about 2.7K. It departs from the perfect isotropy of true black-body radiation by an observed anisotropy that varies with angle on the sky only to about one part in 100,000.

Furthermore, the claim that “CMB essentially confirms the Big Bang theory” appears to be very dubious:

Big bang theorists had predicted cosmic microwave radiation with a black-body spectrum left over from the fireball of the big bang. Prominent theorist George Gamow predicted a microwave temperature of 5 K in 1948, 7 K in 1955, and 50 K in 1961. In terms of energy density, which varies as the fourth power of temperature, the prediction of 50 K yields a value over 113,000 times too high. Big bang advocates prefer to quote the value of 5 K predicted by Gamow’s students Alpher and Herman in 1948, but forget to mention that a year later they revised this to 20 K. Moreover, all the more accurate estimates of the background temperature by non-big-bang scientists are ignored. Walther Nernst gave an estimate of 0.75 K in 1938. In 1926 Arthur Eddington calculated that starlight would give a background temperature of 3.2 K. In the 1930s Ernst Regener concluded that intergalactic space had a background temperature of 2.8 K, and in 1941 Andrew McKellar estimated that temperature to be 2.3 K.


Eric Lerner points out that ‘the curve that was fitted to the data had seven adjustable parameters, the majority of which could not be checked by other observations’, and that even then ‘the fit was not statistically good, with the probability that the curve actually fits the data being under 5%’. For instance, the model greatly overestimated the anisotropy on the largest angular scales. The continuous stream of anomalous results from WMAP data is either ignored or the underlying theory is modified so that the prediction matches the measurements. A major anomaly is that the anisotropies in the MBR ‘do not seem to be scattered as randomly as expected’; they are aligned with the ecliptic and/or other local astrophysical structures.

Personally, I favour the views of David Pratt and Hilton Ratcliffe:

The earth is bathed in cosmic radiation in all wavebands from radio waves to gamma rays, and most of it probably originates in stars and galactic centres. Hilton Ratcliffe argues that the microwave background is no exception: ‘it makes much more sense as the limiting temperature of space heated by ambient starlight and radiation from astrophysical structures, including even the Earth itself, than the signature of a hypothesised primordial explosion’.

UPDATE January 2013

Miles Mathis has republished an article by Stephen Crothers that was originally published by Electronics World in March 2010.

COBE and WMAP have been hailed by the astrophysical scientists as great triumphs in science, measuring the temperature of the Universe, the ~3K Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) remnant of the Big Bang; a signal first detected by Penzias and Wilson from the ground, in 1965.

Stephen Hawking has dubbed this “the scientific discovery of the century, if not of all time”.

However, upon closer examination, the claim does not stand up; in fact, it has no valid basis in science, as Robitaille has revealed.

According to Robitaille, COBE and WMAP have produced almost nothing of any scientific value.

Moreover, Robitaille concludes that the CMB is not cosmic, but a signal produced by the oceans of the Earth:

“Throughout the detection history of the microwave background, it remained puzzling that the Earth itself never provided interference with the measurements. Water, after all, acts as a powerful absorber of microwave radiation. This is well understood, both at sea aboard submarines, and at home within microwave ovens”; “… if the Earth’s oceans cannot interfere with these measurements, it is precisely because they are the primary source of the signal”.

COBE and WMAP: Signal Analysis by Fact or Fiction?
By Stephen J. Crothers

Click to access COBE.pdf

Referenced papers by Pierre-Marie Robitaille:

WMAP: A Radiological Analysis
In this work, results obtained by the WMAP satellite are analyzed by invoking established practices for signal acquisition and processing in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Dynamic range, image reconstruction, signal to noise, resolution, contrast, and reproducibility are specifically discussed. WMAP images do not meet accepted standards in medical imaging research. WMAP images are obtained by attempting to remove a galactic foreground contamination which is 1,000 times more intense than the desired signal. Unlike water suppression in biological NMR, this is accomplished without the ability to affect the signal at the source and without a priori knowledge. Resulting WMAP images have an exceedingly low signal to noise (maximum 1–2) and are heavily governed by data processing. Final WMAP internal linear combination (ILC) images are made from 12 section images. Each of these, in turn, is processed using a separate linear combination of data. The WMAP team extracts cosmological implications from their data, while ignoring that the ILC coefficients do not remain constant from year to year. In contrast to standard practices in medicine, difference images utilized to test reproducibility are presented at substantially reduced resolution. ILC images are not presented for year two and three. Rather, year-1 data is signal averaged in a combined 3-year data set. Proper tests of reproducibility require viewing separate yearly ILC images. Fluctuations in the WMAP images arise from the inability to remove the galactic foreground, and in the significant yearly variations in the foreground itself. Variations in the map outside the galactic plane are significant, preventing any cosmological analysis due to yearly changes. This occurs despite the masking of more than 300 image locations. It will be advanced that any “signal” observed by WMAP is the result of foreground effects, not only from our galaxy, but indeed yearly variations from every galaxy in the Universe. Contrary to published analysis, the argument suggests there are only questionable findings in the anisotropy images, other than those related to image processing, yearly galactic variability, and point sources. Concerns are also raised relative to the validity of assigning brightness temperatures in this setting.

Robitaille, P.-M.L. WMAP: A Radiological Analysis, Prog. in Phys., 2007, v.1, 3-18.

Click to access PP-08-01.PDF

COBE: A Radiological Analysis
All of these findings indicate that the satellite was not sufficiently tested and could be detecting signals from our planet. Diffraction of earthly signals into the FIRAS horn could explain the spectral frequency dependence first observed by the FIRAS team: namely, too much signal in the Jeans-Rayleigh region and not enough in the Wien region. Despite popular belief to the contrary, COBE has not proven that the microwave background originates from the universe and represents the remnants of creation.

Robitaille, P.-M.L. COBE: A Radiological Analysis, Prog. in Phys., 2009, v.4, 17-42.

Click to access PP-19-03.PDF

On the Earth Microwave Background: Absorption and Scattering by the Atmosphere
The absorption and scattering of microwave radiation by the atmosphere of the Earth is considered under a steady state scenario. Using this approach, it is demonstrated that the microwave background could not have a cosmological origin. Scientific observations in the microwave region are explained by considering an oceanic source, combined with both Rayleigh and Mie scattering in the atmosphere in the absence of net absorption. Importantly, at high frequencies, Mie scattering occurs primarily with forward propagation. This helps to explain the lack of high frequency microwave background signals when radio antennae are positioned on the Earth’s surface.

Robitaille, P.-M.L. The Earth Microwave Background (EMB), Atmospheric Scattering and the Generation of Isotropy, Prog. in Phys., 2008, v.2, 164-165.

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