The BIG Note

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We may never know what existed before the Big Bang, but we do know what exists after it. In 1965 at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, two radio astronomers, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, developed a well-calibrated-hypersensitive, 20-foot horn-shaped antenna. The antenna was designed to detect radio waves bounced off echo balloon satellites. No matter where they pointed this antenna at the sky, they heard the same hum. This was not their expected result. Penzias and Wilson thought they had made a mistake. They even considered the possibility that it was due to “a white dielectric substance” (pigeon droppings) in their horn.

It soon came to their attention through Robert Dicke and Jim Peebles at Princeton that this unexpected noise, this background radiation, had been predicted years earlier by George Gamow as a relic of the evolution of the early Universe. Penzias and Wilson had, in fact, accidentally discovered the Cosmic Background Radiation, the fingerprint of the early Universe, the echo of the Big Bang. For this they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Cosmic Background Radiation is a residual vibration from the explosion of the Big Bang, vibrating at a frequency of 4080 Mega Hertz (4,080,000,000 Hertz). All vibrations can be interpreted as sound. Octaves are defined as the lower frequency being half that of its higher frequency. For example, A 3 = 440 Hz and one octave above is A 4 at 880 Hz. Twenty-two octaves below The Big Note (4,080,000,000 Hertz), is calculated to be 972.75 Hz. This is slightly lower than B 4 at 987.77 Hz and somewhat higher than B Flat 4 at 932.33 Hz, in equal-tempered tuning. Therefore, the Universe is resonating at a tone a little flatter than B, as defined by standard tuning.

Physicists think that time began with the Big Bang. Today, just about every scientist believes in the Big Bang model. The evidence is overwhelming enough that in 1951, the Catholic Church officially pronounced the Big Bang model to be in accordance with the Bible. The Tibetan Gyuto Monks perform Buddhist ceremonies while chanting on one fundamental note. Their refined chanting technique enables each member of the choir to sing a three-note chord, exciting the harmonics of the fundamental drone note. A listening to their recording for Windham Hill Records reveals that the monks are droning on a note slightly flatter than B, exciting all the overtones above. Their valve-less brass horns are designed to play this note as the fundamental partial. The Gyuto Monks have been resonating the Big Note for the past 500 years at the Gyuto Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet, now living in exile in Dharamsala, India.

Everything in the Universe is made of one element, which is a note, a single note. Atoms are really vibrations, you know, which are extensions of the BIG NOTE, everything’s one note. Everything. The note is the ultimate power…”

– Spider Barbour from Frank Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy, Part II © 1968

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