Astronomy Science

The Age Of The Universe: Is It Even Possible To Calculate When It Began?

The Age Of The Universe: Is It Even Possible To Calculate When It Began?

Questions which do not give answers are the most intriguing ones. There are those which incite research, analysis and more findings to reach to an equation. This is exactly the case of the question which asks about the calculation pertaining to the beginning of the universe.

There are those, which say that it is almost impossible to find out the history of something if it has not been experienced. And, then there are others which say that there is a lot of geological data which has the ability to give a positive estimation of the same.

The methods used by the scientists

Indeed, scientists have used a plethora of methods, including:

  • Determination of the expansion rate of the Universe in order to trace backward in time
  • Checking out about the oldest objects in the Universe
  • Utilization of microwave background measurements.

The dilemma is with regards to the accuracy of these methods.

The Age Of The Universe: Is It Even Possible To Calculate When It Began?

The 1900s

In the 1900s the people did not really think with respect to the age of the Universe. They worked with the assumption that it had neither beginning nor end. However, a couple of years later, it was Alexander Friedman, who brought to light the possibility of an expanding Universe.

It was the year 1929, when Edwin Hubble confirmed it and published a paper. He measured several galaxies and stated that the Universe was in reality getting bigger and bigger.

In fact, Noble laureate Adam Riess said- “We know the universes were expanding, and we think we understand the expansion history. So like a movie, you can run it backward until everything is on top of everything in the big bang.”

The Hubble constant

Now, the Hubble constant has not been really easy to calculate. However, the checking of the constant could be done. This can be pursued by comparison of the prediction of age for the Universe, against the oldest object that you can think of. With the help of this constant, the scientist has estimated the oldest object to around 12-13 billion years old.

Hence, Riess, Saul Perlmutter and Brian Schmidt in 1998 were able to explore the problem and get to the real answer. In accordance with them, the Universe is accelerating and not simply expanding. With the help of this method, the age of the Universe is thought to be almost 13.3 billion years. In fact, in accordance with Riess, the age of the Universe can also be calculated using the cosmic microwave background (CMB).


In the year 2003 the scientists took the aid of NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe to fabricate a graph of the fluctuation of the CMB. They then compared these against the different models of the Universe that predicted the CMB patterns. They did find a match. Chao- Lin Kuo, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory said- “Using these comparisons, we have been able to figure out the shape of the universe, the density of the universe and its components.”


The year 2013 provided with a more detailed graph of CMB fluctuation fabricated using the European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope. It estimated the Universe to be 13.82 billion years old.

There is still a long way to go before the method is perfected.

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