Physicists usually point to the Big Bang or Big Expansion as the beginning of the universe, and from cosmic microwave background radiation, physicists predict that the universe is approximately 14 billion years old (Discover Magazine). What is the mysterious thing about the Big Bang is what came before it, and how it set off to create the universe as we know it. There are no solid theories of what happened before the Big Bang, however there are many speculations. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss the three main speculations about this elusive subject.
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One concept is that the universe came out of another universe before it, sometimes called the Big Bounce. Essentially, the idea is that a previous universe collapsed inwardly into a point of infinite gravity, which is called a singularity. From this point, it bounced back, creating our universe (Gizmodo). Bouncing back refers to the cycle of expansion and contraction of the universe. This would make the universe as we know it timeless.
Another speculation is that the universe was hibernating before the Big Bang. Physicists like Kurt Hinterbichler, Austin Joyce, and Justin Khoury believe that the universe could have resided in a small fixed space, and was slowly evolving. The universe could have been in a metastate, meaning that its condition would be stable until it could find a state more stable than its original one (Gizmodo).
Probably the most popular speculation among physicists now is that there is a multiverse. To use a metaphor, there is a cosmic soup where universes bubble out from. The bubbling out can be seen as inflation, which explains how our particular universe came into being. At the time of the Big Bang, a bubbling out happened at an unimaginable speed. During this expansion, quantum mechanics predicts that fluctuations were happening within space at that time, and that the energy from these fluctuations could have created galaxies and voids (Gizmodo). This concept avoids issues with decreasing entropy that is present in other ideas, and could explain the low-entropy universe we have now (entropy is a term of physics that describes a “thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system” (Google Dictionary)).
Though physicists have evidence that before the Big Bang, the universe was highly compressed in a state where our laws of physics do not perform (Discover Magazine), they do not have appropriate evidence yet to form a proper theory of how our universe came into being. However, there are three speculations that seem viable to explain how our universe was formed: the Big Bounce concept, a hibernation of our universe, and the multiverse concept. All three ideas, and more, are plausible. Only time will tell if any of these speculations will match up with mounting evidence.
Gizmodo.com. (2017).What Was Our Universe Like Before the Big Bang? [online] Available at: https://gizmodo.com/what-was-our-universe-like-before-the-big-bang-1791889926 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2017].
Discover Magazine. (2017). What Came Before the Big Bang? | DiscoverMagazine.com. [online] Available at: http://discovermagazine.com/2013/september/13-starting-point [Accessed 28 Sep. 2017].
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