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Name: Jeffery
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: NM
Country: USA
Date: Fall 2013

Should we be concerned about a sonic boom hitting us from the explosion from the Big Bang; Why or why not?

Dear Jeffery,

Good question. No, the big bang was a very different sort of animal from a typical sonic boom. Sound cannot travel in the vacuum of space!

Sincerely David H. Levy

Hi Jeffery,

A sonic boom is the propagation of sound through the atmosphere. In space, (where the Big Bang happened) there is no atmosphere so no sound wave can propagate. Thus, a sonic boom hitting Earth due to the Big Bang is unfounded.

I hope this helps. Thanks Jeff Grell


It is a common misconception that the "Big Bang" was an explosion - something like a stick of dynamite exploding. This is a false interpretation of the concept. The - I now think, unfortunately named - Big Bang simply states that there was even that resulted in the incredibly high production of matter coupled with an expansion of space.

Imagine that the water in the oceans of the Earth represented the vacuum of space. The water molecules can be thought of as a "unit of space". So, in this analogy, the "units of space" already existed before the Big Bang - it was just compressed into a tiny volume and the "units of space" were closely packed with each other. During the Big Bang event, space increased dramatically. So, in our analogy, it is not so much that the amount of water increased, rather, the space between the water molecules increased in size. So the gap between the "units of space" increased. Continuing with our analogy, along with the expansion of space (increasing the gap between water molecules), there was also the production of matter (let us use a sudden appearance of fish in the ocean to represent the production of matter). So the fish now experience an increasing distance between them as the space in between water molecules increase.

So the Big Bang is not so much an explosion, but the sudden increase of space and the sudden appearance of matter. There is no sonic boom because there is no explosion.

Greg (Roberto Gregorius) Canisius College

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