Is this a silly question or one that physics shouldn't ask? Is the universe just one of an infinite multiverse . Has there been big bangs for all eternity? Was it just a quantum fluctuation of the vacuum?

Share your thoughts!

Tags: bang, big, physics

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What a coincidence that you would ask such a question! and there are no stupid questions as long as you are willing to hear the answers and learn.

I just received the latest issue of "Scientific American" and on the cover it says "forget the big bang, now it's the big bounce".
I'm fighting the urge to get into all the details because it's really good. But anyways, what is relevant to this conversation is that it predicts that the universe will "never die" and that eventually our universe will stop expanding, and start contracting under the forces of gravity into a super dense region (they call it the "big crunch") and, to make it short, it talks about how "loop quantum gravity" predicts that at this point gravity turns into a repulsive force causing a new "big bang". So it essentially means that the universe is continually reborn and that there was very likely (according to the theory) universes that existed before our current one. They call this entire process the "big bounce".

Which to me is a very happy thought :)

also of interest, that article says that the theory predicts that there is actually "atoms" of spacetime instead of space and time being continuous there is smallest intervals.
Because of that idea then it predicts that the "big bang/bounce" was not a true singularity and that it actually had a radius of some size.
sorry, should probably mention other ideas as well. So... Yes, to everything you asked, those are all valid theories. In some of them however it does not make sense to ask what happened before the big bang because according to those there was no space or time and spacetime itself came into being along with everything else.
very interesting jason, unfortunately i don't have a subscription to Scientific American. I think the theory you mentioned is the brane-collision theory by neil turok and another physicist. As far as I know the theory still has some way to go before it can prove the singularity is avoided at a bounce . e.g the branes must collide at a certain angle etc.

One theory that I am very interested in is eternal inflation. Partly I'm biased as it avoids the "problem" of genesis :P .According to the theory new regions of space(pocket universes) are born out of false vacuum . The ones that inflate quick enough manage to escape the attractive nature of gravity and grow large , others collapse.

Unfortunately each pocket universe serves as an event horizon , therefore proving that such a process takes place is not going to be easy :P
To ask the question of before the big bang (depending on the theory) may not really have any meaning. Before would imply time existed. The big bang was also the beginning of time for this universe, so the question is null.

Or, like Jason pointed out, we could be between bounces, in which case, who knows! Go to a bookstore and get a copy. It's worth the read. The "atoms" being at Plank distances was pretty cool I thought.
The question I am more inclined to ask is: What caused the very first bang (regardless of how many times it's been bouncing, if it has at all)?
My posit is:
Nothing cannot become something. That's the magic of creation. There would have to be a reason.
Hence, something, or someone, must always have existed: though certainly not their gaudy god.
Certainly if we had always existed, we would not have a world in such a mess.
I think intelligence doesn't just happen, so someone intelligent (certainly not their g-odd) gave us life and intelligence, such as it is. Being new to existing, it seems obvious that we'd start out almost as dumb as dirt and work our way up. First we'd be the most ignorant: re-lie-gion-ists. Then we'd be thinkers/atheists that don't really have any answers; just firm denial in their per-vert-ed, con-vert-ed god (though I'm the only person I've seen write "*their* god" as if their god is truly just a lie, so maybe I am the only one who truly denies their god).
What created the creator though? If it is acceptable to state that a creator has always existed, in order to create the universe, without itself being created - then why do you need a creator? I can just as easily state that the universe, whether this one, or a previous one (though previous may not make sense in this case), has always existed...
I did my best to answer this basic of all fundamental questions a couple of months ago on my group which goes under the name ORIGINS (of the Universe, Life, etc . . . ), using quantum mechanical ideas as expressed by the physicist Vic Stenger.

To read the answer, visit the thread at

http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/originsuniverselifehumankindandda...
I know this thread is dormant, but it's a great question, in fact one of THE GREAT QUESTIONS so I'm hoping the thread will get an additional post now and then!

Let me put it a different way. It seems to me there are a number of scientific possibilities:

a) The Big Bang just happened "ex nihilo" (which does not require a creator of course)
b) The Big Bang was just the tail-end of the preceding Big Crunch and we're crunching and banging from minus infinity to plus infinity (unless something different happens one day perhaps)
c) The Big Bang was a birth of our universe from a parent universe in a possibly infinite evolving set of universes - the multiverse.
d) Space-Time began at the Big Bang so any question concerning "before" has no meaning so there's no point asking

OK, first question then is are there any other possibilities that I've missed? Second question is what probability would you give to each of these possibilities? And don't be shy, this is about as "wide open" an issue as they get. It would be nice to hear reasons though, anything from "gut feel", through logical argument to brilliant theory!

My own answer to Q2, which I humbly admit is non-expert and biased by what I've read about most (which is Dr. Martin Rees's books concerning the multiverse) is:

a) 10%
b) 20%
c) 60%
d) 10%

Any takers? Martin.
Gee, what do you mean by "scientific possibilities"? Where's the underlying science in these possibilities? Unless you consider metaphysics a science? Or do you label these possibilities "scientific" just because they don't involve a creator god?

If you want more "scientific possibilities", here are some for you:

e) The arrow of time changes direction when we are less than 1 Planck time unit away from the Big Bang (or Big Crunch), so the BB/BC never actually happens. Instead we go from past to future to past again, and the Universe never began and will never end (we could also say it never ended and will never begin)

f) Time dilation effects apply near the Big Bang/Big Crunch, so while we think the BB occured some 13 billions years ago, it actually takes an inifinite amount of time for matter or energy to reach these points. This may look like a gross misunderstanding of the concept of time dilation in Einsteinian Relativity, but actually it's not. Frames of references are irrelevant when the Universe is collapsed in a single point (less than 1 Planck length, say).

g) The passage of time is a biological illusion. everything exists at the same time in past, present, and future. I concede you and me may not exist in human form 1000 years ago, but 'our' quarks do/did/will (did I write this, or will I write it - sorry, I'm a bit confused). Anyway Kurt Vonnegut and his Tralfamadorians do/did/will understand what I'm saying (wait, will I say it already?)

We all look at space/time and the standard model, below planck volume (possibly a singularity) and below Planck time size becomes irrelivant. And to really confuse you an article in American Scientific states redshift in deep space shows the standard model is changing, meaning atoms have acted differently in the past and everything we understand now could all just evaporate, not just matter, energy but space and time and even gravity.

The Big Bang was more likely the convergence of values in the standard model by intersecting strings or branes that contain the properties of the universe we now know, not an explosion.

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