Can the ancient knowledge of the Purāṇas resolve a century-old astronomical problem?
The Hubble constant, which plays a role in the estimation of the age of the Universe, is a measure of the rate at which the universe is expanding from the primordial “Big Bang.” In recent years, the Hubble constant has been a topic of debate among cosmologists and astrophysicists. Cosmologists use methods based on analysis of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation and Baryon Acoustic Oscillations, both of which yield the same value of 67.4 km s-1 Mpc-1 for the Hubble constant (Sokol, 2019). The current cosmological estimate of the age of the Universe at 13.8 billion years is based on these analyses.
However, astrophysicists use different methods to measure the Hubble constant. They look at distant galaxies, stars, and supernovae and measure the speed at which they are traveling away from each other. They have proposed a range of values for the Hubble constant from 69 to 82 km s-1 Mpc-1 (Sokol, 2019). This wide range of values leads to estimates for the age of the Universe between 13 and 11 billion years. However, the lack of consensus and wide range of values indicate that astrophysicists have a long way to go before they pose a strong challenge to the cosmological estimate for the Hubble constant. A recent report by astrophysicist Wendy Freedman of the University of Chicago put the Hubble constant at 70 km s-1 Mpc-1 (Freedman et al, 2019). This value is very close to the cosmological estimate and would yield an estimate for the age of the Universe that differs from the cosmological estimate by no more than a few million years.
Though doubts have been raised by astrophysicists regarding the accuracy of the cosmological estimate (Planck) for the Hubble constant, the stunning agreement between the Purāṇic value for the age of the Universe and that of Planck provides an independent validation of the cosmological estimate. A persistent theme of this website and our book is that Purāṇic chronology is remarkably close to that of modern science. Therefore, we propose that Planck’s estimate for the age of the Universe is accurate and will stand the test of time against doubts raised by astrophysicists regarding the Hubble constant. This is an example of how Purāṇic statements serve as an independent source of validation for scientific data.