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What Happened Before the Big Bang?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the why-not-just-invent-a-time-machine dept.

Space 394

The Bad Astronomer writes to tell us that a recent advance in Loop Quantum Gravity theory appears to allow the mathematics of cosmology to be extended to the time before the Universe underwent the Big Bang. Bad Astronomer also attempts to simplify things a bit with his own explanation of the new discovery.

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But time doesn't exists yet (1)

mk_is_here (912747) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719093)

So there's no before and after, right?

Re:But time doesn't exists yet (-1, Offtopic)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719147)

ALL RIGHT I KNOW I'M IN THERE! If I don't come out with my hands up, I'm Coming in to Get Me!!!

A little question about the context here! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719573)

So, by the big bang, were they referring to your mom and what I did last night? LOL!

Re:But time doesn't exists yet (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719319)

there's a theory that our universe budded from another universe. i guess in that case, you could consider "before the big bang" as any time in our parent universe when our universe didnt exist. (avoiding the word "yet").

Re:But time doesn't exists yet (2, Funny)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719553)

There is an alternate theory that brings up two big questions: 1) Where did the Great Green Arkleseizure come from? 2) How much time do we have until the coming of the handkerchief.

Re:But time doesn't exists yet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19720071)

42

Re:But time doesn't exists yet (4, Insightful)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719543)

I think it's really hard as humans to comprehend things we have no ways of describing in English. Time is a dimension and I think we just can't comprehend the idea of time not existing or being able to manipulate it. It's possible time didn't exist before the big bang. But again, these words "before" and "after" have to do with time. The best we can do right now is describe things in mathematical models.

Time is a vector, not a scalar (4, Insightful)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719867)

I think that the problem we have is forming a mental image of time not as some quantity (5 minutes, for example) but as a scalar (the difference between 5 minutes ago and now, in the positive future direction).

We just don't talk or think about time having some of the same properties as physical space since we only experience it in one direction. Our lives are a filmstrip that doesn't roll backwards. What happened before the beginning of the tape? That's like asking if there was a universe before I was born?

I think we'd do a lot better to rename it something less associated with it's common useage, such as the Temporal axis. Then you can start to discuss what the properties of that axis are, without running into issues with metaphorical associations.

(see also: Free Software, Free as in Libre, not as in Gratis)

Re:But time doesn't exists yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719951)

It's not really that hard. You are talking about state that is not time dependent. For instance if the other three dimensions existed (of course the current theory is they didn't exist on their own without time, but if) objects at extreme ends of the universe could interact instantaneously. No speed of light issue. Basically state changes without time would occur.

obDrWho (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19720031)

People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect. But actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly... timey-wimey... stuff.

Easy (4, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719095)

The big foreplay.

Come on, what do you think, the universe is a whore?

Re:Easy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719161)

No, but life's a bitch.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719325)

The big foreplay.
I hope that came after a few dates and the Big Candle Lit Dinner, otherwise our universe is a floozy :)

Re:Easy (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719709)

Well if Douglas Adams is correct, then it would be a floozyBOT.

no, but if you look at all those blood bubbles in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719415)

the picture on the last link, I expect it was a virgin before hand...

No-No, before the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719541)

Always comes the screeching tires (unless you have ABS, but there was no ABS back then)

globaltics.net [globaltics.net] - Political discussion for a new world

Re:Easy (1)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719693)

You, sir, are condemned to Hell. We don't discuss things like that. For more information, we invite you to our museum [creationmuseum.org] ...

Re:Easy (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719953)

Before the big bang? That was back when God was in college. He totally meant to create the universe--but he was having problems with his girlfriend, his parents were giving him all kinds of shit, his weed connection got busted by the cops, and his humanities professor was riding his ass about that late paper. He finally did get his shit together and did the whole "let there be light" thing, though. Hey, we've all been young, right?

The Paper & Article (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719107)

What Bojowald's work does, as I understand it (the paper as I write this is not out yet, so I am going by my limited knowledge of LQG and other theories like it) is simplify the math enough to be able to trace some properties of the Universe backwards, right down to T=0, which he calls the Big Bounce.
I caught this story on PhysOrg [physorg.com] yesterday and subsequently found the full text [nature.com] from the Journal of Nature Physics. While Mr. Bojowald has many papers currently up for review, I believe the precise paper is available on Arxiv [arxiv.org] .

As Bad Astronomer noted, this isn't the first time something like this has been proposed. I think the first time I read about it was in a book by George Gamov [wikipedia.org] and then subsequent work/proposed theories done by Roger Penrose [wikipedia.org] & the well known Stephen Hawking.

Considering past results of my comments [slashdot.org] on matters I have little formal education on, I'll won't bother to remark on this work.

I'll tell you what happened (-1, Offtopic)

random0xff (1062770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719117)

I posted first

Re:I'll tell you what happened (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719341)

I posted first

I thought Greedo posted first! You know, maybe it's the Big Bang special edition :P

before Big Bang? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719121)

Big Taking Off His Pants

There is no before the Big Bang. (5, Interesting)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719129)

I've always held that asking what came before the Big Bang is like asking what is North of the North Pole? It's a grammatically correct question but we can't expect it to mean anything.

While we don't have a working theory of quantum gravitation, we do have some strong hints that time and and space themselves were forged in the Big Bang. If you look at a Universe a Planck Length is size, the error in the time of any event observed would be longer than the time the Universe has existed for, to this point, and any error is position would be large than the current Universe at that size.

In short, time and space are useless measurements of a Universe this small.

In a very real sense, the Universe has always existed but has a finite age. I think once I came to understand what this really meant, it's very a beautiful truth about the world. I am sceptical of any theory that talks about a "before" the Big Bang - I think it misses one of the most important truths there is to know!

Simon

North of the North pole (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719239)

Unfortunately for this analogy, there is something North of the North Pole, if you think "outside the sphere".

Re:North of the North pole (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719461)

says the man who failed to understand the analogy.

you can not go north of the North Pole. Once you get to the north pole everything is quite literally south of you, no matter which way you go. If you leave the sphere in question(ie head into space) you no longer have a compass as the magentic field that the north pole is based on no longer exerts it's force on you.

What you think Astral(space) Navagation uses compasses for heading and bearing? That we can use the sun's magentic field t find our way across this planetary system?

Re: Enter the Sphere (1)

Chr0me (180627) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719645)

You can go north of the north pole, by entering the sphere. Standing on the north pole with a horizontal compass makes it spin, a vertical or dip compass would point straight down. [anl.gov] Going in a straight line down into the earth would be moving north of the pole.

But now I'm just splitting hairs.

Re: Enter the Sphere (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719787)

no your not. indeed you will be "heading" south along the pole. Take out a bar magent and picture yourself standing on top of it. the only place to go is south of you.

if you "walk along the pole" your still heading south.

Re: Enter the Sphere (2, Informative)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19720109)

There are 3 'north' poles.

Only in the context of magnetic navigation does your comment relate to the magnetic north pole.
The magnetic pole is not fixed and is based upon the iron core of our planet. It has a deviation [noaa.gov] and changes over time and location.

There is the political north pole which cartography is based upon. This is where we get nautical measurements from. It is 5400 nautical miles from the North Pole to the equator.
90 degree right angle from pole to equator; 60 minutes each degree, 1 nautical mile per degree : 90*60 = 5400 nautical miles.

Then there is the axial or celestial 'North' pole which is where our 23 degree tilt comes from. That measurement is not a constant either as our planet has a `wobble`.

Re:North of the North pole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719885)

I think he got it if you read and understood his comment.

The analogy is only valid to a point. If you don't think outside the box, or sphere in this case, you're forever going to limit your ability to solve problems in new ways or to understand new concepts.

If you read the RTFA you know tjat cosmologists are thinking outside this universe, i.e. branes.

Re:There is no before the Big Bang. (4, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719253)

While we don't have a working theory of quantum gravitation, we do have some strong hints that time and and space themselves were forged in the Big Bang. If you look at a Universe a Planck Length is size, the error in the time of any event observed would be longer than the time the Universe has existed for, to this point, and any error is position would be large than the current Universe at that size.

Time and length can be measured simultaneously without problem. Position, momentum and time, energy are the pairs that are subject to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and cannot be measured simultaneously to arbitrary accuracy.

In short, time and space are useless measurements of a Universe this small.

But with high energy and momentum density, I think time and space make sense. And that's assuming that the Big Bang is a singularity with initial time origin.

Re:There is no before the Big Bang. (1)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719257)

Well, maybe you're right, and maybe not. The article in question speculates that time and space may have existed before the Big Bang occurred. If that's the case, it may be that asking what's before the Big Bang is more like asking what's north of Alaska.

Re:There is no before the Big Bang. (4, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719367)

That's an interesting hypothesis, and one I've heard before. What is the evidence for it though? Is it just that all of our current models break down at that point, so we assume there was nothingness? Or do we have some sort of observed evidence to support the idea that time itself did not exist prior to the big bang?

As humans, we have a hard time envisioning "eternity," but we have an equally hard time grappling with the idea that existence itself would have a finite beginning or end. Both of these concepts exist too far out of our experience to really grasp. I guess this is why people find so much comfort in faith in a divine being that both exists eternally and defines the beginning and end of existence as we know it.

Re:There is no before the Big Bang. (1)

nick255 (139962) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719547)

I've always held that asking what came before the Big Bang is like asking what is North of the North Pole? It's a grammatically correct question but we can't expect it to mean anything.

That depends what you view of time is. If you view time as merely a sequence of ordered events (which is how philosophers tend to view it), then there is no reason there can't be anything before the Big Bang. If you view time as part of space-time created at the Big Bang (as physicists tend to) then you can't have before the Big Bang.

If I recall correctly, one of the assumptions for relativity is that there are no instantaneous events, therefore time in space-time can be considered a sequence of ordered events, therefore there is no reason to assume there is no super-sequence containing the sequence of events which happen in space-time. In this super-sequence it is perfectly feasible to have an event before the big-bang.

Re:There is no before the Big Bang. (4, Interesting)

Pendersempai (625351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719769)

I've always held that asking what came before the Big Bang is like asking what is North of the North Pole? It's a grammatically correct question but we can't expect it to mean anything.... I think once I came to understand what this really meant, it's very a beautiful truth about the world. I am sceptical of any theory that talks about a "before" the Big Bang - I think it misses one of the most important truths there is to know!

I agree that it's a beautiful concept, but it might not be right. It's testable, and they're going to test it. If you want call your arguments scientific, you have to accept that in science, the most beautiful explanation is not always the correct one. I think that both geocentrism and flat-earth theory are beautiful in a kind of fairy tale aesthetic, but we had to let them go because they were wrong. If they run the experiments and conclude that time extended prior to the big bang, so be it.

Anyway, isn't it more appealing that time is cyclical rather than terminal? Consider the alternative: all the rich vibrancy of the universe slowly dying of metastasized entropy until it is an ever-expanding fossil of inert dust. How much nicer that there may be a cure for entropy, even if it is one that we will not survive!

Re:There is no before the Big Bang. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19720065)

"In a very real sense, the Universe has always existed but has a finite age."

Sounds like Einstein worst flaw.

Well, the last thing said before was... (5, Funny)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719155)

"Hey guys, watch this"

Re:Well, the last thing said before was... (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719205)

That certainly explains his lack of presence while we generally screw things up on him.

Who's going to notify the coroner that the our Diety is lying crumpled in a ditch along the Celestial Highway?

Re:Well, the last thing said before was... (1)

lhorn (528432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719825)

Ah, thank you. I had forgotten it entirely, and people do ask.

hmm (1)

rubberbandball (1076739) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719171)

consult the niblonians. they were 16 years old when this all went down.

Re:hmm (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719287)

Al Gore, too.

We don't know where he is, but we can certainly tell you where he's not -- the universe. Whenever the next Horrendous Space Kablooie is, he can tell us about it while he safely watches from outside.

I gave your mom $15.00 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719225)

and she gave me 5 back.

There was the sound of God asking for my zippo (1, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719237)

so he could light the fuse on his latest science project

Re:There was the sound of God asking for my zippo (1, Funny)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719343)

So basically, the universe is just one giant flaming God fart?

Re:There was the sound of God asking for my zippo (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719627)

So basically, the universe is just one giant flaming God fart?


According to Peter Griffin [youtube.com] , yes.

Other things are more pressing for me right now. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719301)

I decided I would think about this a billion years from now, in the year 1,000,000,2007. No hurry, right?

Re:Other things are more pressing for me right now (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719463)

I guess they redefined the value of "billion" somewhere between now and then.

Everyone knows.... (3, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719311)

Everyone knows that just before the big bang, chuck norris was launching a roundhouse kick....

Re:Everyone knows.... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719495)

There was no Big Bang. Just a time when Chuck Norris decided to let the universe exist.

The punchline (4, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719315)

These theories may seem like mumbo-jumbo or magic, but they have that very basic property of science: they're testable.

As a science-loving person, I almost fell in ecstasy by just reading this sentence. It really gets things straight regarding religious fanboyism. So "eat that, Intelligent Design".

Ahh... saying that felt so good.

Re:The punchline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719375)

Just because something is testable means that God could not have played a role?

Re:The punchline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19720059)

no, the notion that an invisible man in the sky made a dude fill an ark with animals (or whatever your religion's crazy tall tales are) means that God could not have played anymore a role in creating the universe than the constant friction of your head against your anal wall.

But is LQG testable? (2, Interesting)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719505)

I was hoping that the article was going to propose an experiment that would confirm or deny loop quantum gravity, but it doesn't. AFAIK, LQG and string theory are not experimentally falsifiable theories, that has been one of the principle controversies. A lot of scientists (Philip Anderson for instance) don't think these its real science.

Re:The punchline (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719601)

It really gets things straight regarding religious fanboyism.
Seems like you've got plenty of that.

Re:The punchline (1)

untaken_name (660789) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719651)

Well, if all you want to do is feel good, say that as much as you want. It apparently stimulates some sort of neural reward. Why should you care if your statement is true or even makes sense? You might try substitutiong other things with which you disagree after the 'eat that,' part. It will help you feel wonderful! It will not, however, resolve the basic conflict at the heart of the false science/religion dichotomy: Why should an Intelligent Designer not design intelligent rules and then follow them? Please note that I am not espousing nor asserting any particular theory here. I just have never really understood this whole debate. Either there is a God (or many) or there is not. No one's belief affects that basic fact an iota. It is impossible to prove a negative if you're on the 'no God' side, and proof destroys faith if you are on the 'God' side. It's a useless, repetitive, circular debate which requires selective blindness from both sides to even occur. Why bother? There are so many good things that you could be doing (both sides). Why not go do them instead?

You mean... (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719327)


"What Happened 6001 Years Ago?"
Fixed that for you.

Re:You mean... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719567)

God went on a bender?

The hangover would explain the half-assed job he did with mankind.

The BSOD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719349)

There was the BSOD?

IF (3, Interesting)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719387)

Something can come from nothing, our definition of nothing will have to be revised.

Nothing, plus a little bit more ... perhaps?

Re:IF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719635)

Incorrect - something came from something else. The Gods of Thermodynamics are appeased, and all is well.

Do not tempt the Gods of Thermodynamics by breaking their Laws, lest you invite ultimate entropy unto yourself.

Re:IF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719995)

The definition was revised a long time ago, "virtual particles".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_particle [wikipedia.org]

My HTML skillz suk.

okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719407)

So now that we know what came before the big bang.

What came before that which came before the big bang?

I, for one, welcome our... (1)

Will the Chill (78436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719433)

super-temporal pre-bang overlords!

-WtC

Re:I, for one, welcome our... (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719753)

They're already here....

No Before (2, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719513)

There is no "before".

There has to be a big bang to have a "before big bang".

Now, 6000 years ago, roughly, God spoke and the Universe lept into being.

All you techno-geeks need to accept that. Put away your computers. I have. I stopped using computers because they are the "Beast" (Beast is a Trademark of the RMS Corporation, a wholly, and holy, owned subsidary of FOSS, owners of the GNUniverse).

God will smite you computer using disbelievers for not accepting the 6000 year Universe. Your only salvation is to face Kentucky and believe.

Re:No Before (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719819)

There is no "before".
There has to be a big bang to have a "before big bang".
Now, 6000 years ago, roughly, God spoke and the Universe lept into being.
All you techno-geeks need to accept that. Put away your computers. I have. I stopped using computers because they are the "Beast" (Beast is a Trademark of the RMS Corporation, a wholly, and holy, owned subsidary of FOSS, owners of the GNUniverse).
God will smite you computer using disbelievers for not accepting the 6000 year Universe. Your only salvation is to face Kentucky and believe.

Modded Troll? Wow, some blockhead took me seriously. He went looking for a Christian Nut Job, fired his wad, and spent his mod points all on a joke. Meanwhile, there really is a CNJ running around saying, "There is no before..." and meaning it.

Or, did the moderator not like my Kentucky joke?

Or, was he an RMS, all holiness to his name, Accolyte thinking I was making GNUFun of the Prophet?

Re:No Before (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719919)

But I like my computer... and Kentucky is okay sometimes, as long as you avoid most of the locals. There's a cave somewhere in Kentucky that's kinda cool... it has an underground lake that GOD MADE!

Yeah whoever modded you Troll shouldn't be getting any modpoints. Hopefully I can metamoderate that into oblivion!

I hate how civilization looks at time. (0, Redundant)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719515)

This is going to sound -1 Troll to most here, and I don't have much factual evidence behind any of it, but I think that there are many ways to look at time as a whole. In recent years we've all gotten accustomed to the concept of linear time - time that has a definitive beginning and end. It doesn't seem to make much sense beyond a few religious faiths, thus the whole BC/AD deal after "the son of God" was born. That's how much we've thought about it, yep. I've read before (can't site it) that in previous ages, time wasn't thought of as linear but as recycling seasons (Pagan?), such as the "circle of life" and nothing more. It would go in circles (as the year concept), but such emphasis on linear progression wasn't universally accepted until world economics and money came into play, with accruing interest on loans, etc.

I think if we explored other concepts and theories of "time" we would get a much broader perspective on where we might have come from, what happened "before" the big bang, etc...maybe that's what quantum theory is exploring..I have to get more into that to be able to argue any points. What I do know is that when I'm in meditation, there are many so-called "universal truths" that I realize, which cause me to question our current definitive concept of time.

Re:I hate how civilization looks at time. (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719721)

>>I've read before (can't site it) that in previous ages, time wasn't thought of as linear but as recycling seasons (Pagan?), such as the "circle of life" and nothing more.

I think their would still be a linear concept because a human lifetime is so linear - you start at birth, grow old, then die.

I believe various non-Christian calendars counted off years (or even days) from a beginning point. I think the Mayan calendar even has a last day.

Seasons and cyclical events were important, but I don't know if they would prevent a linear view of time.

What happened before the big bang? (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719523)

Dinner, a movie, and a whole lotta wine. Giggity-giggity-goo!

ereh ees ot gnihtoN (3, Funny)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719525)

.gnola evom esaelP

Hey bad astronomer what do you think of this idea (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719533)

The multiverse substrate of the universe is like a whole bunch of registers holding entangled qubits.
The universe is a subset of the states of those things that exhibits some kind of consistency that
allows one subregion of it to observe and affect another subregion of that statespace.
Spacetime is the bounds of the phenomenologically self-consistent subspace of the statespace.
Quantum observations are observations of the interface between the self-consistent subspace
and surrouunding not-necessarily-consistent states. The present moment is by analogy the
massively parallel "program counter" that is somehow, from the point of view of denizens
of the subspace, the boundary of self-consistent states and states whose consistency with
the subspace has not been evaluated yet. Energy is the key mystery. It is how "adjacent"
states observe and influence each other, and its flow is what is constrained by the phenomenological
consistency.

Pass me another mushroom.

dear god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719597)

someone get me a dictionary.

ob (2, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719563)

A load of turtles had a big argument about which one was going at the bottonm of the pile?

Big Crunch vs Cold Death (2, Insightful)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719575)

The theory that is proposed in the article is that our universe came from a former "crunched" universe. But the current observations of our universe indicate accelerating expansion which in turn implies that our universe will end in a cold death rather than a big crunch. That seems to be an unresolved contradiction. Does these mean that loop quantum gravity is incompatible with observation (which would conclude that LQG is not correct)? Or did the previous universe have such different laws of physics that it's fate was different than the fate of our universe?

a one-shot deal? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719939)

if expansion continues to accelerate, then the observable universe one day becomes smaller than any structure. 20 billion years from now, according to the Big Rip theorists, nothing can communicate with anything else so no force interactions. So the Universe goes from Big Bang to Big Rip, and we're screwed. And nothing to cause a Big Crunch, everything is just a lucky one-time event.

Re:Big Crunch vs Cold Death (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719941)

Why would previous universes have the same laws as this one?
Perhaps time travel was possible in another universe, and some stalwart researchers built their time machine differently to get a few more miles per gallon, and came to this universe on accident. Due to incompatible physical laws, they were stranded. Hence Earth people.

Re:Big Crunch vs Cold Death (1)

logicassasin (318009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19720027)

not if the universe's expansion reaches an as yet undefined limit and begins to contract. Then, eventually, it will collapse to a single point and explode again.

Nothing we'll ever see, but the possibility that something like this COULD happen is facinating.

i never believed in the big bang (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719599)

or rather, if there was one, that it was a localized event. we talk about all of these dead ends in cosmology: black holes, from which nothing escapes, the heat death of the universe, where simple entropy reduces everything to luke warm death, the hubble constant, which describes everything as slowly expanding away from everything else. and we even talk about this birth of the universe. birth and death: doesn't that strike you as anthropomorphic?

i don't know. our current understanding of cosmology seems open-ended to me. i think it would be very arrogant for us if we believe we have seen all of the dynamics of the universe in play, that our model of the universe is anywhere near complete. i think there is phenomena about the functioning of the universe we are not aware of yet

the hubble constant: why does this have to describe the ENTIRE universe? why is it not merely a local expansion/ contraction? (when i say local, i'm referring to a location that is trillions of light years in diameter)

black holes: perhaps a black hole of massive enough size reaches some sort of physical constraint we can't even begin to understand, resulting in a "big bang", thereby renewing the universe... locally (where local, again, is extremely huge)

second law of thermodynamics: i think a localized "big bang" would put a new twist on this law

my disbelief in the big bang as describing the birth fo the ENTIRE universe stems from an instinct i have about the history of science:

1. at one time, people believed the world was flat

2. at one time, people believed the sun revolved aorund the earth

3. at one time, people believe humans were created in the image of god, above the other beasts

can you see where we are going? extrapoloate out from the various anthropomorphic and human-centric beliefs we have held in the past. and now look at our current understanding of what the big bang means about how the universe is supposed to resemble our birth/ death, and supposed to resemble our abrahamic religions and myths about creation

so the big bang seems very creationist to me, a vestige of the myths about a god creating us from dust and void. and yet these abrahamic beliefs are so ingrained in our collective culture, we still labor under that mentality when we make our scientific hypotheses. the whole idea of birth is so very anthropomorphic. the whole idea of death is so very anthropomorphic. yes, us humans need to be born, and to die. why does the universe?

in other words, projecting out from what the history of science has taught us about mankind being wrong about being the center of things, the obvious humbling projection of what we have learned about being wrong when we describe our world in human terms is that the universe is:

1. timeless. without ending and without beginning
2. infinite, in all directions

the irony of course, is that this belief of mine that hedges its bet against future cosmological discoveries not only puts me in some sort of futuristic vanguard, it also puts me in the middle of one of the central beliefs of one of the most ancient religions [wikipedia.org] (i am not a jain, i just find it ironic and funny that one of the world's ancient religions might actually be way ahead of all of us in one of its tenets)

Re:i never believed in the big bang (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719767)

That's all well and good, and many people have put forth any number of different ideas like some of the stuff you're hinting at. The thing is, we've only got so much ability to study the universe around us, and only so much data that we can use to test our theories.

Might the Hubble Constant not be a factor in some insanely distant part of the universe? Sure, but if it looks to be in effect everywhere we can see, then how can we make any useful assumptions about where it ends?

I don't think that the Big Bang theory was some sort of way of forcing the universe into a pattern more familiar to us. It's just part of an attempt to figure out where all of the stuff that makes up the universe came from. There's a good bit of data that seems to point back to a specific point in the past where all of this started. The Jainism article you linked to sees the universe as a series of cycles, and there's a similar idea that often goes along with the Big Bang, involving the Big Crunch where the universe basically reboots itself and starts over.

You seem to be convinced that the Big Bang can't be right because some people think it's probably what happened, and in the past some people thought the world was flat and they turned out to be wrong. I fail to see how that argument would not be at least as applicable to your theories as well.

you're right: i don't have proof (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19720001)

it's just a hunch:

1. time and time again, anthropomorphization has informed our theories about how our surroundings work, and time and time again, anthropomorphization has turned out to be wrong

2. talking about the universe as having a birth, and a death, seems very anthropomorphic to me

therefore, our current understanding of the cosmos, ie: the big bang, and various theories of its "death" is probably wrong too, because it is so anthropomorphic

that's all i'm operating on, that's the sum total of my hunch. not one shred of solid proof

but i'm not trying to say i have anything substantative, but i am saying we should beware of arrogantly thinking we have seen everything there is to see to adequately describe a functional theory of the cosmos at this point in our efforts to understand the universe

Re:you're right: i don't have proof (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19720111)

I think it is just convenient terminology. We talk about the birth and death of individual stars as well. Anytime an appliance, car, computer, battery, etc... stops working, we say it died.

History of science point 3 (2, Insightful)

BytePusher (209961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719977)

"I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return." Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 (English Standard Version)

please laminate that (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19720075)

and print out 10,000 copies

then we will hire a crop duster to spread the fliers all over various southern baptist strongholds in the usa, and the vatican

thanks for that

Information? (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719641)

Even if the math can be extended to a time before the Big Bang, is there any way to test the predictions? My understanding is that, if there even was anything before the Big Bang, any information (in the Claude Shannon, Information Theory sense) about it wouldn't have passed through that event to this here and now. It's much like there is debate about whether any information that passes the event horizon of a black hole can ever be recovered. The information may well be there, but can we get at it?

There was a conversation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719657)

Psalm 2:6-8

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD
He said to me, "You are my Son
today I have become your Father.

Re:There was a conversation. (1)

logicassasin (318009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719891)

uuuuuummm.... yeaaaah... Not sure where you're going with this one.

Looke like it has nothing to do with anything, just a random line pulled out of a random chapter of the Bible.

Thumpers are good for stuff like that...

Re:There was a conversation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19720005)

You can call me Flower if you want to.

This was a conversation before "time". It was between two of the three members of the Trinity.

"They" designated roles and began to plan the "future" of what we know today.

It isn't random, I assure you.

Re:There was a conversation. (1)

logicassasin (318009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19720061)

without the context you just provided, it was a random, meaningless quote.

wonderful (1)

Essequemodeia (1030028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719659)

Then in a universe assembled by forces way way way beyond our control, perhaps both grand champions and stuffs on a rock can combine, collate, and codepend knowing that we're all lucky to have even existed at all.

But I thought... (1)

Lectoid (891115) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719729)

It was created when God and his roomate, Chugs, were arm wrestling. God farted and waved it towards Chugs to gain an advantage. Then God asked to borrow Chugs' lighter and lit his next far on fire, thus creating the Big Bang.

OT (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719735)

WTF is up with the first link - the one that points to "http://.moc.liamg..ta..remonortsadabeht./"??

Is this some kind of new URL hashing mechanism? Should I try and decrypt this with the 0x09 key? Does the link predate the universe (thereby making it inscrutable to those within the universe)?

Or is my connection/machine/browser just horribly, horribly FUBARed?

Re:OT (1)

Dave21212 (256924) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719779)


Not sure that it's OT, since it's commenting on the actual posting :)

That's a freaky email hash... really complicated, it's the address in reverse with some extra dots and with @ spelled out... the real addy is "theBadAstronomer" @ "gmail.com"

Re:OT (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719985)

I admit to feeling a bit obtuse for not seeing that.

But why is it presented as an http URL? Since when do we want email links that are a) unfollowable because they're obfuscated, and b) unfollowable because they're set after http:/// [http] as lead-ins to stories?

And this is my first-ever complaint (in almost 10 years of hanging out here) about the editing on slashdot: if they're not even following the links to check they're valid, what the hell is their job? I mean, catching dupes is hard, since it presupposes you know everything that's ever been posted before. Fixing grammar/spelling is hard (to do with 100% success), because everyone makes simple mistakes. Hell, even reading the whole linked article to make sure it agrees with the submission is hard, because they get a ton of submissions. But FFS, clicking on the link to make sure it actually, you know, goes somewhere?

That's got to take less time than coming up with the dept. for the story.

I hope... (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719761)

I hope the pre-bang universe would have let the beans uneaten...

I don't see why this is so hard to grasp... (1)

logicassasin (318009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719771)

"It's been thought for sometime that there may have been some previous Universe that existed "before" ours. This is a difficult idea, because in the Big Bang model, space and time were created in that initial moment."

From the time I was a 5th grader (~1982), I had always assumed that the Big Bang represented a point where a universe prior to our current one collapsed on itself and violently exploded setting everything into motion to create this universe. In my head, I likened it to a star collapsing on itself and exploding as a supernova, but on a far larger scale. If something like that can happen to a star, surely an entire universe could collapse on itself as well. Didn't need an equation to tell me that this was possible, it just seems logical.

So Douglas Adams was right... (2, Funny)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719795)

The universe DOES recreate itself, each time stranger than before...

I would assume it was preceeded by (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719833)

"The Big Flirt" followed by "The Big Pitcher of Marguritas" followed by "The Big Grind on the Dancefloor" followed by "The Big Cab Ride to Her Place" followed by "The Big Petting Session" followed by, of course, "The Big Bang" and, subsequently "The Big Lie" that he'd call her...

Before the Big Bang? (1, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19719871)

I think it went something like this:

"What's THIS button do?"

YES! Fp!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19719875)

Moot, because it's inapplicable (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19720063)

A scientific theory first of all has to offer a test to be scientific. I can postulate that at T=-1 the universe was a big, pink pineapple. I'm pretty sure that someone with a firmer background in astrophysics than me can come up with a model that would describe that credibly. Is it scientific? In no way. It offers no chance to test this theory, no way to verify or falsify it.

So, why bother speculating? Yes, mathematically it's possible. Mathematically it's possible to reverse time.
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