Why Big Bang is so Accepted and Popular: Some Contributions of a Thematic Analysis
Some important and decisive observations allowed a widespread and almost unquestionable acceptance of the big bang cosmology, but we can admit and search other factors that have contributed and continue to contribute to the enormous acceptance and great popularity of this cosmological conception, not only inside but also outside of cosmology and even in numerous no scientific contexts. To find some of those factors, a case study was undertaken based on thematic analysis, an analytical tool which is based on the idea that the scientific activity, in addition to a theoretical and an experimental dimensions, has a third dimension with psychological and cultural elements called themata that strongly influence the construction of scientific theories and also their acceptance or rejection. This case study focused on the most important founding texts of big bang cosmology, namely articles and books of Alexandre Friedmann, Georges Lemaître, and George Gamow, covering three decades of important developments (1922–1952), and the founding texts of its great rival, the steady-state cosmology. This article presents a summary of the main results of this case study, which allowed to identify several themata with a very important role in the big bang cosmology: differentiation and unification (methodological themata); unity, creation, change, evolution, constancy (of mass/energy), simplicity, life cycle, circularity, and disorder (conceptual themata). All these themata form a methodological and conceptual matrix—with a triple dimension: historical, transversal/cultural, and psychological—that can help explain the acceptance and popularity of the big bang cosmology within and beyond its disciplinary boundaries.