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Origin Of Everything

  1. Apr 27, 2008 #1
    I've been watching documentaries and programs related to the Universe and its origins. That made me curious and I began reading/researching more about this topic. All sources do a good job of explaining everything back to the point of origin. However, there's something that no one seems to be explaining: where exactly did the original components come from?

    I'll use the Big Bang model to explain myself. The Big Bang theory states that there existed a "singularity" from where the Universe we study 13 billions years later was born. Alright, where exactly did this "singularity" originally come from? How would the Conservation of Energy Law explain this (if I am understanding it correctly)?

    This is how I picture it: nothing -> singularity -> Big Bang -> Universe. It feels as if the Big Bang theory wants me to accept that this singularity has always existed yet everything in the Universe displays a cycle of "life and death."

    When my brain tries to interpret Big Bang in basic mathematical terms it looks something like this: 0 = 1. Basically, nothing = something or from nothing came something.

    In conclusion, what I'm understanding is that energy created itself out of nothing; everything we know today suddenly materialized out of absolute emptiness. What am I missing here?

    Jordan Joab.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2008 #2
    Actually, the modern Big Bang Theory says no such thing. It says that the universe was smaller, hotter and denser in the past, which is around 13.7 billion years ago. The Big Bang Theory describes the development of the universe, not its origin.


    A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses, not a random guess.

    "There are something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty zeros after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle parts. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero. Now twice zero is also zero. Thus the universe can double the amount of positive matter energy and also double the negative gravitational energy without violation of the conservation of energy. (Hawking, Stephen, "Brief History of Time", 1998, pp. 133-134)

    Intelligent Design: Humans, Cockroaches, and the Laws of Physics

  4. Apr 27, 2008 #3
    No energy was needed to produce the Universe because positive matter and negative gravity balanced each other. How did matter and gravity come to be? How did they obtain their positive/negative energy?

    If I'm understanding this paragraph correctly, the word "chaos" means "emptiness or nothing." In other words, when a system is at maximum entropy/disorder there's simply nothing there - total emptiness. Do we consider nothing to be a "disordered" state?

    And to me this is the most important aspect. Saying that "the whole notion of time before the big bang is meaningless" is the same as saying that "God is the creator." Neither can be logically explained yet we don't have sufficient proof to confirm their existence or non-existence.

    Is like we either try to accept that things have always existed or that they were formed out of a "nothing" that our brain might not even be wired to understand. So, beyond assigning a mathematical value and trying to figure out how things came to be at the start of Planck time, seems we are not bothering with finding out how and what exactly happened a second before "something came out of nothing."

    Jordan Joab.
  5. Apr 27, 2008 #4
    Ultimately, our notion of cause and effect does not allow us to answer this question about how something can come from nothing. We think, something must have caused the beginning of everything, but what then caused that something? There is an error in our logic.
  6. Apr 27, 2008 #5


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    Science has nothing to say about what preceded the BB; that's for the Philosophy forum.
  7. Apr 27, 2008 #6


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    I'm partial to a creation event - 'Let there be light'. It's effective and difficult to disprove. It also explains why math and science struggle to offer alternative explanations.
  8. Apr 28, 2008 #7
    A creation events offers no explanation, because such an hypothesis cannot account for what methods or mechanisms was used, the identity of the creator or how it was created. It seems to be a non-answer, at least so far.

    I do not think our ignorance or struggles can be used as evidence of something supernatural. When we did not know what caused disease, we were not justified by this ignorance to come to the conclusion that witches caused them.

    Asking what happened "before" the BB is like asking what is north of the north pole. The question itself is not meaningful. One could argue that the term "nothing" is also meaningless, which would make the question of "why is there something, rather than nothing?" or "how can something come from nothing" also meaningless.
  9. Apr 28, 2008 #8
    Well, a creation event and a BB event share the same problem presented by this topic but I think is not convenient for the creation event to answer this question since it would have to explain how this creator became so powerful. Let's stick to science.

    What irks me about these programs and documentaries shown on History, Discovery, etc. is that they tell you about big bang but don't even bother to address the question that's hitting me right in the face: where did that singularity come from?!

    That energy had to be created somehow.

    Jordan Joab.
  10. Apr 28, 2008 #9
    There was no singularity. Singularities are merely artifacts of our models. The first law of thermodynamics tells us that energy can neither be created or destroyed. I do not see how a net sum of zero needs to come from something? Sure, if there was an excess amount of energy that could not be accounted for, cosmology would have a much larger problem in explaining things.
  11. Apr 28, 2008 #10


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    These programs are geared towards the average joe with a curiosity about cosmology. The question of where the singularity possibly came from (thus the origin of the universe) is pretty much metaphysics. You can look at M-Theory if you want, but it's basically just a really elegant way of saying "it happened". Not to mention the mathematics of any particular model quickly become overwhelming to anyone without a PhD in the field. The point is, if you want to do some serious cosmological learning, do not hope to do so from programs on the Discovery Channel and BBC.
  12. Apr 29, 2008 #11
    Well no, "the whole notion of time before the big bang is meaningless", I think means that if there was no matter, then there was no time because of the general theory of relativity stating that there is no space and time but only spacetime. If there is no matter time can not exist, thus asking what was before time existed is meaningless because you can't explain before without a concept of time and there is no concept of time. Much different then saying "God is the creator". And as far as there is no significant proof that to confirm the existence of nonexistence, you can turn this argument of itself by using a rediculus example.

    For example I say that there is an invisible teapot orbiting the moon, and it can not be detected by us in anyway. Can you disprove me? No, of coarse not because I just said you can't detect it and thus there is no observable evidence. Does this mean it's true? Of coarse not. I don't think that you can ever disprove the nonexistence of something, but rather shade in the probabilities of their non existence. I think that with the issue of God, the probabilities of existence are pretty slim, and the only reason null is because you can't disprove it. With the time not existing thing, there are very complicated maths and theories all built upon other theories and evidence, indicated a much more possible scenario, and thus giving evidence to it. Especially with no time= meaningless, this is even more straightforward, it is more like a definition derived from a few simple equations.

    So basically a second before nothing doesn't exist, I am less familiar with the explanations of how the first bits of matter did exist ,but I am sure there are some very good explanations, as that Hawkins one above seems interesting and I will look into. Also try to keep in mind, we are humans and our brains are more wired toward things of everyday encounters (i.e. throwing a spear to hunt, running, you know prehistoric things), and that concepts of very large things, especially as the universal level, and very small things at the atomic levels seem unnatural to us because we would never have naturally encountered that, so although it seems mind blowing and unlogical and what have you, by building upon very simple concepts and adding upon our axioms we get the marvelous, complex things we do, and although seem nonintuitive, are infact built upon logic.

    By no means does this mean accept nonintuitive things, but try to imagine in the simple steps and that if all of them are logical, then the big step is logical.

    Also sorry to get a little bit philosophical, but I felt it was needed, and tbh I felt it was going there anyway =]
  13. May 17, 2008 #12
    I think Hawking was saying that the original event was just a quantum fluctuation. If so, it was bigger than most, and therefore seems to be insanely improbable. But then we say that the net energy is zero. The length of time that virtual particles can 'borrow' energy is inversely proportional to their energy. So if the cosmic 'seed' particle actually contained zero energy, it would be very probable ... in fact it would be a sure bet. So what is it: insanely improbable or inevitable? If it's zero energy and therefore inevitable, why isn't it happening all the time, or is it? Is there some meta-verse where all this can happen, since our own version of spacetime didn't exist for it to happen in to start with?

    In conclusion: I think it's okay to say the BB model doesn't need to say anything about what happened before. But humans will always ask this question, and it's not impossible that we will discover that the BB is true, but incomplete. Lisa Randall (if I remember correctly) talks about our spacetime being a 4 dimensional brane floating in a higher dimensional space. BB may have been an event on that brane. Then we ask where that higher dimensional space came from ... and so it goes. Is it all just an infinite regression whose depth will forever remain unplumbed? Maybe that's not a scientific question.
  14. May 17, 2008 #13


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    I agree with what you said here, that I highlighted. It is a good way to put it.

    Stephen Hawking wrote his books a long time ago. Nowadays people run their computer models of the universe back before the big bang and do NOT encounter a singularity.
    The new models fit the observational data just as well as the old model with the singularity (which is pretty good!)

    So the singularity idea may have been a mistake. Strictly from a scientific viewpoint there is no evidence of a beginning of time at some moment 13.7 billion years ago. the evidence is just as good that there was a contraction phase leading to a bounce that occurred at very high density.

    If you want to tap into the peer-reviewed scientific publication on this go to Spires and do a keyword search on "quantum cosmology". My impression is that anything you get in the popular media or on television is probably way out of date or worse.

    I will try to supply that Spires keyword search link. Here:

    this is what you get if you go to the Spires database and as for stuff published AFTER 2005 with keywords quantum cosmology.
    If you do the same search in earlier time periods like in the 1990s you may get Stephen Hawking or string theory or M theory or whatnot. but this search will get what is recent and also HIGHLY CITED---the output is ranked by how much the papers are referenced in other research
    (the sort preference is set to "approx. citation count" so as to list the most-cited papers first)
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  15. May 17, 2008 #14
    The creation of the universe due to a quantum fluctuation is just one of several theories, not a fact. Since many if not most believe the universe is infinite in size, it can just as easily be infinite in time. Which is to say that it was always here, sometimes very compact before expanding and then contracting again. There is no necessity that it was "created" -- it may just be a human trait to want to assign a beginning since infinity is difficult for our puny minds to conceptualize. Funny thing is, people have no trouble imagining the universe having no end, existing forever, so why does it need a beginning.
  16. May 17, 2008 #15


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    I wasnt talking about the creation of the universe due to a quantum fluctuation. I don't find that approach very appealing, do you? A fluctuation in what???

    Papers about that fluctuation story have not been getting very highly cited lately. Not very popular with the experts. Personally I am more interested in what is emerging as the mainstream picture which is just a continued evolution in time.

    There is a book called Beyond the Big Bang coming out this year. It can be ordered on Amazon but wont ship until summer. It is for specialists. Written by about 20 experts each doing a chapter. the book explains several possible processes people think could have led up to the big bang. They will have to be compared to observations and tested. It is current research. We don't know.

    there will undoubtably be a lot of discussion of this later on when the book comes out. If you want to look at the Amazon page, here it is



    If you LIKE the "quantum fluctuation" idea, OK that is your business. but if you don't, then have a look at the Spires listing that I linked to. You wont find any quantum fluctuation stuff in the top-cited 10 or 20 articles, I expect. The most highly cited QC research literature is based on computer modeling usually involving a contraction-bounce-expansion. But look for yourself. The articles are all free for PDF download
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  17. May 18, 2008 #16
    Sorry to intrude .... clearly out of my depth here. But I will check out the links.
  18. May 18, 2008 #17
    Most physicists can't accept that 8D
  19. May 18, 2008 #18
    I agree with you, Marcus -- I was responding to Pixchips who was arguing the Hawking view and your post slipped in before mine posted. I wasn't arguing for a quantum fluctuation, I was arguing for an alternative, that neither time nor the universe needs a beginning. I prefer the position you seem to favor, the bounce.

    Of course this begs the question of whether there was only one bounce or many. My preferred view would be many, since intuitively it seems that if there was one previous crunch, it should happen again and again. Unfortunately there is as yet no evidence that it will happen again, but if such evidence comes to light it would seem to be strong confirmation of the bounce theory, though I do understand that the bounce theory doesn't require that.
  20. May 18, 2008 #19


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    I see better now what you were saying, Dill. I think earlier I was reacting to several posters without fully understanding. Thanks for clarifying. Our viewpoints seem to be pretty similar.

    Dean has a good point too
    RIGHT and I say more power to them. The more of the basic questions they can wrestle out of the grasp of philosophers and apply empirical method to the better! Go physicists!
    What does that smilie 8D look like if you use the PF menu? I might like to use it myself
    would any of these fit?


    Last edited: May 18, 2008
  21. May 18, 2008 #20
    Hi again ... I'm new to PF and anything I 'know' comes from an eceltic mix of Borders physics shelf, the Discovery channel, and long career as a design engineer, so I didn't mean to 'argue' ... the QF thing doesn't really make sense to me for a lot of reasons, but I hadn't heard the alternatives and was actually (and apparently unsuccessfully) expressing my confusion. To add to my confusion, I was just perusing another thread about CMB in which a learned colleague said that the fate of the universe was known to the extent that it was open: the expansion would continue forever due to the recently revived Cosmological Constant. This was the subject of a recent article (I think it was Scientific American) which argued that the future would see an era in which the local group would be effectively cut off from the rest of the universe by it's own horizon as the expansion continually accelerated. Can both be right? Can the universe be externally oscillatory and continually expanding? (Just to be clear, I am actually asking a question. Sometimes seemingly contradictory things are resolved by a larger viewpoint.) As I said, I can't put any math to this, so I am probably out of my depth. But it is fascinating and confusing.
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