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What happened Before the Big Bang

  1. Jan 4, 2004 #1
    Forgive me if this has been asked/answered before but this is something I've wondered about since I was six years old.

    Please keep in mind that I know nothing about Physics (I didn't even take physics in high school) so I apologize if this sounds stupid.

    From what I understand, matter/energy can never be created or destroyed, only changed. Based on what I know about the big bang, the basic idea is that everything that makes up our universe was originally contained in an immensely tiny particle that exploded and expanded outward correct?

    Doesn't there have to be a time prior to the big bang before the creation of the universe where nothing exists? And if so, how does that nothing turn into whatever was necessary to create the big bang in the first place? I'm familiar with the idea that our universe was created as another was colapsing, but even then if you trace the origins of existance back far enough wouldn't there still need to be a time where nothing existed and then suddenly it did?

    Obviously there's no way to know what really happened, but is there any theory ouy there with even a possible explanation of what happened prior to the big bang? Is this something thats ever been addressed anywhere before?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 4, 2004 #2


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    Cosmology is very interested right now in questions of the nature of the big bang and whether there was anything before it.

    The traditional view, i.e. from a couple of years ago, was that the universe came into being, time, space, causality, energy, and all, at the BB, and the BB was a singularity, a point where the laws of physics don't work (there are also singularities inside black holes). So it doesn't make sense (they say) to talk about conservation of energy through the BB, any more than it makes sense to talk about traction in outer space.

    Some physicists weren't satisfied with this, and they argued as follows. It is accepted in physics that gravitational potential energy is taken to be negative and kinetic energy (of motion) is taken as positive (this is true, but I don't want to get into explaining it here). So if the amount of potential energy, on the whole, balances the amount of kinetic energy, the total energy of the universe could be close to zero. And then you could invoke the uncertainty principle and say that you couldn't have exactly zero energy, so the universe could arise as a quantum fluctuation and expand due to quantum vacuum reactions. This was described as "The Ultimate Free Lunch".

    In the last couple of years astrophysicists and cosmologists have discovered new things:

    - Study of distant burnt-out supernovas has shown the universe is not only expanding, but the expansion is accelerating. This would require a positive energy pressure throughout the vacuum of space, and we have had to get used to the idea that over 80% of the energy in the universe is this, which has been given the name "dark energy".

    -The new data from the WMAP satellite has given us a complex look at conditions in the very early universe.

    -Cosmologists have introduced candidate theories that don't have singularities at t=0, and give us some hope of finding out what may have gone before the BB.

    So your very good questions may be receiving answers from the physicists and astronomers in the next few years. Keep your eyes peeled!
  4. Jan 4, 2004 #3
    Yeah, selfAdjoint pretty much hit the ball write on the bat.

    Some physicists speculate that on the other side of the looking glass of Time Zero is another universe going backward in time. Others suggest that creation as we know it is punctuated by an eternal dance of clashing island universes. It really is all about speculation and everyone's own hypothesis on the matter. There is no really definite answer, yet, just hypothesis thrown out on the table showing their hand at things.

    At the moment there are two pretenders to the throne of that ultimate theory. One is string theory, the putative "theory of everything," which posits that the ultimate constituents of nature are tiny vibrating strings rather than points. String theorists have scored some striking successes in the study of black holes, in which matter has been compressed to catastrophic densities similar to the Big Bang, but they have made little progress with the Big Bang itself. So as I said it really is just interpretation and imagination combined to form a "good theory" which in all likelyhood could someday possess the right answer.

    'If the creation of the universe happens outside time, then it must happen all the time. The Big Bang is here and now, the foundation of every moment' could be one theory.

    And you are there. So it's happening right NOW. You never really know, until substantiation is verifiable in tests.

    By the way, Paul Davies at http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/big-bang.html [Broken] has a good explanation of his theory.

    Source for ideas. This article just shows how some physicists explain their ideas in this vast spectrum of Big Bang Theory.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  5. Feb 21, 2004 #4
    Before the Big Bang ?


    Great Singularity of SPACE , TIME , MASS , AND MEMORY which we are still memorizing in scale of 10,000 yrs and now we are trying to reach in scale of 15 bya.
  6. Feb 25, 2004 #5
    I am no expert on this subject, but I have came up with an idea recently which can help to answer your question in a understandable way.

    Based on the current Big Bang model all the matter (quarks) we can see in the inverse today was created at the time of the Big Bang - but that's a lot of matter to come from nothing - unless it did not exist before the Big Bang, but was a by product of the Big Bang.

    I have proposed that at the time of the Big Bang, a 10 Dimensional Universe was created, as already accepted and agreed by the Superstring Theory or M-Theory. However at the moment these theories cannot explain where the missing 6 Dimensions have gone.

    Which is why my theory is new and yet to be accepted, in which the missing 6 dimensions are not missing at all, they are all around us in the form of Quarks - 6 to be procise.

    Image when the Big Bang ignited forming a 10-Dimensional "empty" bubble, but 6 of the 10 dimensions did not what to form part of this 4 Dimensional Universe we now live in and instead, curled up into themselves forming what we now call quarks.

    This concept does not change any of the currently accepted theories, it simply removes all the current unknown - how quarks were formed, the half-life of the proton, what an electron, why Quasars were formed when they were, etc, etc.


    Terry Giblin
  7. Feb 27, 2004 #6

    One day universe understandings are simple in intuitive memory because we are facing realistic challanges of falls&downs humans history in scale of 10,000 yrs. Thinking 4.5 light yrs journey is still unrealistic in next 100 yrs, but thinking possibility of earth annihilation because of nuke war is realistic in next 100 yrs. Looks like Absurd but it is real challanges of Homo Sapiens Future. We're still have secrets in DNA/RNA journeys of micro-cosmic lifes. I would like to use "zoom lens of comparative-math figure" to understand PYRAMID OF UNIVERSE in simplicity and equality.
  8. Mar 8, 2004 #7
    based on current cosmological evidence, the universe was not created after another callapsed, it either just existed as it was, or came into existence as a particle of space-time that was cut off from another universe. anyway, current theory suggests that the universe will expand at an ever increasing velocity because the energy created in the vacume between the galaxies and clusters of galaxies has created an anti-gravity force that is pushing the universe appart.
  9. Mar 31, 2004 #8
    The puzzle of the big bang and what came before it, is a much deeper question than can be answered by an answer that contains any "thing"... whether it be a particle from another uinverse or a universe going backward in time or anything else.

    Because the reality of the question is... "how did something come from nothing?"

    If it's a particle from another universe... how did that universe begin. If it's a universe going backward in time... how did it begin.

    I'm thinking these are all pretty silly solutions, to a question that requires more effort or ingenuity to answer.
  10. May 11, 2004 #9
    The best way I can explain what was before the bigbang is this. I do believe in all pervading energy that eternal and I can say why. IF you imagine a large volume of clear water to be empty space(or the base energy as I call it) and ice crystals as matter. As mentioned using the uncertainty principle it causes the water in this example to get cold and form ice, this is not too dissimilar to how our universe was formed. As you can see from this analogy you can see that both are made up of the same thing but one has a different energy level and thus becomes ice crystal or a particle. This is highly simplified but you get the idea :smile:
  11. May 11, 2004 #10
    AGHHHHH!!! Hey man, I'm seeing a lot of mixed messages here. Instead of me giving you my ideas on the BB, which include flop transistions and a PreBB; I highly suggest you read a book on the subject. I'm seeing a lot of false information here. Instead of clogging your brain, I would suggest reading a book on cosmology. Maybe one of Stephen Hawkings books(i.e- The Universe in a Nutshell) or the Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, they do a pretty good job. (I loved the Elegant Universe, I would suggest that).

    Paden Roder
  12. May 18, 2004 #11
    Contracting Universe


    I started reading Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and found it quite interesting till in a moment of kebabified madness I ripped the book apart from cover to cover.

    It wasn't "brief" at all - had a bugger of a headache three pages into it - Now would that be due to the universe contracting rather than expanding or was I just having a bad hair day?

    DR PINKLINE JONES a.l.s.c.
  13. Jun 7, 2004 #12
    Here's an idea: the big bang or zero time state could be viewed as the top point of a hill. Imagine time to be the motion down the hill. It is equal in all directions from the top point and singular. So to ask what happened before the big bang would be to ask what what happened on the opposite side of your downhill time trip which is just that time ran down exactly as in this universe. If you go back in time to the top of the hill and start going down the opposite way you're just going forward in time again...
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