The beginning of everything? The Big Bang is realised on a new meteorite adorned silver coin

It’s been a little quieter on the astronomy coin front of late. Fewer series seem to be ongoing and individual releases are not appearing in the numbers they were a few years ago, but what is coming on to the market is maintaining the high quality the genre is known for. Joining the offerings is a new issue from Niue Island, struck by B.H. Mayer in Germany, and distributed by the Mint of Gdansk.

There’s no bigger event in astronomy, or in all of the natural world if the model is accurate, than the Big Bang theory. Depicting it is obviously going to be a challenge. After all, apart from The Rolling Stones, nobody was around to witness it 13.8 billion years ago, so there’s considerable scope for artistic licence in the realisation. The choice taken here was an explosion of bright colour, fluorescent, and on a concave surface. Riots of colour like this are not uncommon in the Universe – it isn’t a black wasteland – so the imagery does have some basis in reality. Although it does seem pretty intense in these images, the final item should be a little more restrained.

Sitting in the middle of the reverse face, at the low point of the surface, sits a piece of meteorite. NWA 11228 came to light in 2017 and in total weighed just 140 grams (it was highly fragmented). Found in Morocco, it joins a few of its North West African (hence NWA) counterparts in appearing on a coin. Fragments such as these have been a staple of the astronomy coin market for over a decade. The obverse is a Mint of Poland style customised one featuring the effigy of QEII. It actually looks great and apes the reverse side quite closely in base design. Unlike the main face, the obverse is flat.

Supplied in a box with a certificate, the Big Bang has a mintage capped at 500 pieces and is available to pre order now. They should start to ship from the end of July. A good addition to the outer space coin genre, and one we’re interested in seeing actual images of when they become available.

THE BIG BANG THEORY

The Big Bang theory is a cosmological model for the observable universe that describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state to what we observe today. The model offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), large scale structure and Hubble’s law (the farther away galaxies are, the faster they are moving away from Earth).

If the observed conditions are extrapolated backwards in time using the known laws of physics, the prediction is that just before a period of very high density there was a singularity which is typically associated with the Big Bang. Physicists are undecided whether this means the universe began from a singularity, or that current knowledge is insufficient to describe the universe at that time.

Detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe place the Big Bang at around 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe. After its initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms. Giant clouds of these primordial elements (mostly hydrogen, with some helium and lithium) later coalesced through gravity, eventually forming early stars and galaxies, the descendants of which are visible today.

Since Georges Lemaître first noted in 1927 that an expanding universe could be traced back in time to an originating single point, scientists have built on his idea of cosmic expansion. The scientific community was once divided between supporters of two different theories, the Big Bang and the Steady State theory, but a wide range of empirical evidence has strongly favoured the Big Bang which is now universally accepted. More recently, measurements of the redshift of supernovae indicate that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, an observation attributed to dark energy’s existence. The known physical laws of nature can be used to calculate the characteristics of the universe in detail back in time to an initial state of extreme density and temperature. (Source: Wikipedia)

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $5 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 50.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Fluorescent colour
MINTAGE 500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
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