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Space Science

Study Hints At Time Before Big Bang 408

Posted by kdawson
from the other-side-of-the-looking-glass dept.
canadian_right informs us that scientists from Caltech have found hints of a time before the Big Bang while studying the cosmic microwave background. Not only does the study hint at something pre-existing our universe, the researchers also postulate that everything we see was created as a bubble pinched off from a previously existing universe. This conjecture turns out to shed light on the mystery of the arrow of time. Quoting the BBC's account: "Their model suggests that new universes could be created spontaneously from apparently empty space. From inside the parent universe, the event would be surprisingly unspectacular. Describing the team's work at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in St Louis, Missouri, co-author Professor Sean Carroll explained that 'a universe could form inside this room and we'd never know.'"
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Study Hints At Time Before Big Bang

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  • by fotoguzzi (230256) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:52AM (#23721413)
    new universe.
  • by Sierran (155611) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:54AM (#23721429)
    They need to get cracking on this. A universe from my closet? Fan*TAS*tic! My rent/sq. ft. is going down as I write...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by davester666 (731373)
      Um, no, it's NOT. Expect a rent increase application to be made tomorrow so you have to pay the same amount per sq. foot contained within your domicile.

      I hope the rest of your place is filled with cash...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're in New York, and you have a spare closet?

      Why aren't you subletting?!?
    • Listen; (Score:3, Insightful)

      by J_Omega (709711)
      "Listen; there's a hell of a good universe next door: let's go."

      ~ e.e.cummings
  • by Alarindris (1253418) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:57AM (#23721451)
    Didn't string theory already predict something like this?

    Really though, what (in the background radiation) would point to no time before the big bang? A Kotch curve? A Hilbert curve? Complete order and continuity? I fail to see how 'blips' in the cosmic background radiation proves anything about time before the big bang.
    • Sure, except that, so far, no one's been able to devise any experiments to prove or disprove string theory.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Alarindris (1253418)

        Detailed measurements made by the satellite have shown that the fluctuations in the microwave background are about 10% stronger on one side of the sky than those on the other.
        I'm pretty sure that you could take any axis and get around 10% difference in fluctuations, it is fairly randomly dispersed after all, this should happen.

        I'm just saying it seems like quite a stretch.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:32AM (#23721699)
      ...String hypothesis.
    • AFAIK (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:48AM (#23721809) Journal
      AFAIK, it didn't predict anything (experimentally measurable) yet that isn't already predicted by other, simpler theories. I.e., it still fails Occam's Razor. Miserably.

      Plus, AFAIK a lot of it has a lot of possible solutions, and for some they don't even have the equations (yet), so there's not much of a prediction you can do with it. So far the majority of it isn't even as much a theory, as in something where you plug your values in a clear formula and get a prediction, but more of a theory that a theory might exist.

      Or to put it otherwise, it's more of a mathematical construct than physics. Don't get me wrong, maths is a very very useful tool. Essential, even. But if I'm allowed a bad analogy, it's a bit like a painter's brush: it can be used to paint anything, regardless of whether it's real or outright impossible in the real world. You can use it to paint Mona Lisa or Escher's impossible pictures. So is maths. You can describe an infinity of possible universes with it, most of which have nothing to do with ours. You can use it to describe light propagation through ether, or the raisin pie atom model, or the ancient geocentric model, or even the counter-Earth ideas from waay back, all of which by now we know to be false. It becomes physics (or generally science) when you can test that formula against the real universe and see if it fits or not.
      • by Jesus_666 (702802)

        You can use it to describe [...] even the counter-Earth ideas from waay back
        I didn't know you could describe third-rate SciFi-as-an-excuse-for-BDSM hrough mathematics. Were Norman's publisations peer-reviewed? (Given their literary qualities I doubt it.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Missing_dc (1074809)

          You can use it to describe [...] even the counter-Earth ideas from waay back
          I didn't know you could describe third-rate SciFi-as-an-excuse-for-BDSM hrough mathematics. Were Norman's publisations peer-reviewed? (Given their literary qualities I doubt it.)


          SciFi with BDSM AND Mathematics? I find myself intrigued with your ideas, Sir, and would like to subscribe to your publications.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kreigaffe (765218)
      Damn, this got modded flamebait?

      I must have misunderestimated the ire of the cosmic physicists on /.
    • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:20AM (#23722015)
      I always rationalised the Tardis in Doctor Who as some sort of pocket of universe that sprouts wormholes to different points in spacetime. Bigger on the inside than out would be no problem since the inside is a different spacetime connected to the Tardis's destination via a thin neck that is hidden by some sort of hologram. Come to think of it, since the outside of the Tardis is some sort of hologram hiding a wormhole entrance that explains how the Tardis can change shape to disguise itself. An if someone attacks outside of the Tardis you just turn of the hologram and break the thin neck to that part of spacetime and reconnect a bit later to make the thing appear indestructable.

      And a civilisation like the Time Lords that's had spacetravel for thousands or millions of years and knows how to harness the power of blackholes would be plausibly be capable of this sort of thing. I certainly wouldn't expect them to be flying around in the sort of spaceships we'd design based on our current knowledge of technology.

      So I'm not surprised either ;-)

      Actually the odd thing about Doctor Who is that there is no evidence that the people that wrote it knew anything about physics, so the Tardis isn't supposed to be a pocket universe, but I can quite see explaining all the Tardis's odd properties using this model.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        I always figured the TARDIS was bigger on the inside because the space was oriented through a higher (ie 4th) dimenstion perpendicular to own. Hence its intersection with perceivable 3d space would be small compared to its size.

        Think of a 2d world, with another 2d world intersecting it. The cross section is far smaller than the 2d world that is intersecting.
      • by Lally Singh (3427)
        It also really explains that "Before Time" comment from Satan last season.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I always rationalised the Tardis in Doctor Who
        Why?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by smoker2 (750216)
        The reason the Tardis is bigger on the inside is because it's easier to film in than a wardrobe.
    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:31AM (#23722075) Homepage Journal

      Really though, what (in the background radiation) would point to no time before the big bang?
      From TFA:

      Detailed measurements made by the satellite have shown that the fluctuations in the microwave background are about 10% stronger on one side of the sky than those on the other.

      Sean Carroll conceded that this might just be a coincidence, but pointed out that a natural explanation for this discrepancy would be if it represented a structure inherited from our universe's parent.
      They are saying that our universe started on the edge of something, which is why the CMB is not symmetrical.
      • FSM (Score:3, Insightful)

        Sean Carroll conceded that this might just be a coincidence, but pointed out that a natural explanation for this discrepancy would be if it represented a structure inherited from our universe's parent.
        It could also be that that is the direction the cosmic fork, twirling the noodles is spinning.
    • by MickLinux (579158) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:24AM (#23722965) Journal
      My brother, Joseph D. Rudmin, expected to see this. He's done a lot of work with space tensors, and has basically concluded that space-time is 3x3t (6 dimensions), with the 3 time dimensions mistaken for one for massive objects (and, ironically, it's quite possible that low-mass objects like electrons can mistake the 3 space dimensions for one). Right now, he's trying to use these equations to calculate / predict the electron's charge/mass ratio. It's a huge calculation, so it's been taking him many years.

          However, if I remember right, he regularly publishes at the Virginia Academy of Science annual meetings, and has also written a small (90 pg) book that he self published, just to get the ideas out there (ISBN 0976894726 - Thoughts on the Electron Mass).

          To the point of what he's expected to see here: he's pointed out that if you have a galaxy at the center of a collapsing black hole, and are in the galaxy, you cannot tell the difference between that event and a big bang. Moreover, once the SC-radius has formed, you cannot tell whether you are inside the black hole, or outside it as the rest of the universe collapses into it's own black hole. Moreover, because light that goes out from the universe / black hole gets redirected back inwards, you cannot tell the boundary of a black hole from the boundary of a universe. They are, by dual definition, identical.

          However, initial formations of the universe are seldom for every formation of a black hole. Therefore, it is more probable that our big bang was nothing more than the collapse of a black hole.
    • The writeup doesn't say how the conjecture avoids it.
      • No it isn't. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by spun (1352)
        Olber's paradox says that if time stretches back infinitely, the sky would be uniformly as bright as a star.

        In this theory, the parent universe is not visible. Our universe separated from it at the Big Bang. There was a time before, but that doesn't mean you can see an infinite number of stars
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fred_A (10934)

      Didn't string theory already predict something like this?
      Um, did string theory predict something that anyone now could verify experimentally ?

      Not a flame, just asking...

      I've read the Elegant Universe (I think that was the title -- which incidentally has a very good exposition of relativity) and while it's all nice and dandy on paper, I'm waiting for some kind of real life validation.
  • MIB (Score:3, Funny)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:57AM (#23721453) Journal
    Sounds like MIB may have a lot more correct.
  • by jacquesm (154384) <j@wwMENCKEN.com minus author> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:58AM (#23721457) Homepage
    that once we fully understand the universe it will be replaced with something even more complicated.

    Others argue that this has already happened...

    thhgttg

  • Ooops...? (Score:3, Funny)

    by eebra82 (907996) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:58AM (#23721461) Homepage

    Sean Carroll explained that 'a universe could form inside this room and we'd never know.
    Unless you had eggs and beans. Then it's kind of hard to hide it from anyone.
  • by reydeyo (1126459) <reydeyoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:06AM (#23721513)
    Alan Guth described this sort of thing, and many other possible origins of the universe, in his book [amazon.com] written in 1998. I think I even remember him hypothesizing that a universe could possibly be its own parent. Definitely old news.
    • by OzRoy (602691) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:21AM (#23722027)
      There is a big difference between someone expressing an idea, and someone actually saying "We have found evidence to suggest this is true."

      Just because you read about the idea 10 years ago doesn't make this any less significant.
      • by pbhj (607776) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @09:01AM (#23723989) Homepage Journal

        someone actually saying "We have found evidence to suggest this is true."
        I think that's a bit strong. They've found a way to fudge the theory to be consistent with the CMB. That's a long way from evidence and the reverse of suggestion, IMHO.

        Interestingly if they've found evidence of something from before the Big Bang then our entire notion of spacetime having being created at that point are mute, it's not a Big Bang, perhaps a Cosmic Strangulated Hernia?. This then is the biggest news in physics since, well, since forever. To have then described something of the nature of that preexisting universe ... it will be interesting to see what the peer reviewers make of it.

        [Article on a pre-review paper:] Professor Carroll urged cosmologists to broaden their horizons: "We're trained to say there was no time before the Big Bang, when we should say that we don't know whether there was anything - or if there was, what it was."
        Apart from the obvious internal contradiction of using the term "Big Bang" which by definition has no "time before" then I say amen to that!
  • by Chappsterr (1304949) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:12AM (#23721555)
    Seriously, I read about this idea years ago in Alan Guth's book, The Inflationary Universe. Chapter Fifteen. [google.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AlecC (512609)
      But what they are saying is they have evidence rather than an idea. Not awfully strong evidence, buyt it adds weight to the idea, which was previously just hot air - interesting, but still hot mair.
      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:49AM (#23722607)
        No, it's not evidence, it's an outlandish _interpretation_. We can only go by the BBC journalist's writeup of course, but here's how the scientific method (that they ought to be following) works:

        First, they (should) ask do the "ordinary" physical laws explain the fluctuations? Next, if they have shown that _none_ of the physical laws _can_ explain the fluctuations, they should ask can this be a _new_ physical law to be _added_ to the existing ones? Next, if they have shown that adding such a new law is _inconsistent_ with existing laws, they should ask whether some of the existing laws are _wrong_?

        If at the end of all that mountain of work, they still cannot fit the observation to a natural explanation, they should leave it at that and let somebody smarter go through their arguments to find what they missed.

  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by mqduck (232646) <mqduck AT mqduck DOT net> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:18AM (#23721597)
    When I first read this, it sounded so strange that I was unable to conceive it in any meaningful way. Then I got really high. Now it seems self-evident. It may not be genuinely insightful, but it sure is fun.
    • Exactly. If time stops, how long does it stop? Who times it? It could be an eternity or an hour. But why would it matter? There is no time. So nothing could happen before time, right? I'm gonna go get high.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:21AM (#23721621)
    How can we define time independently of space? Can anybody devise an experiment that can measure time in some fundamental way without needing a displacement and a velocity?

    This almost sounds like pseudoscience. Time as we know it can only be defined in our universe because this is the only place we can measure it. There is no logical reason whatsoever to believe that there was a 'before' the Big Bang because you can't assign any physical meaning to 'before' (as in 5 s before or 10 years before).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:31AM (#23721687)
      By the way, just to avoid confusion, what I meant by the above is this: consider an experiment where you are blowing up a balloon and you measure time by something traveling in the balloon or by the rate that the balloon expands. How do you measure time before you started inflating the balloon (where it had a volume of zero) when your experiment can only be done inside the balloon? It only makes sense to define time as far as the balloon (or universe) is concerned after the inflation has begun and the volume enclosed by the balloon is greater than zero. There is no you can infer by any characteristic in the balloon how time worked before. From an abstract reference point, this could be the first time the balloon inflated, or maybe you pinched off a zero volume part of another balloon and started inflating, or maybe this balloon inflated from zero and then deflated to zero over many cycles. Your measure of time has no meaning in any case and none of them are related. The expansion could have been different or you could have used a different gas which would affect each potential measure of time in the balloon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)
        Yeah but your balloon is embedded in a larger universe. You could define time in balloon terms but you could also come up with a definition of time which works before the balloon was inflated.

        Similarly if our Universe is embedded a wider multiverse you could define time in such a way that you can have time before the big bang. But it's the fact that the universe is embedded in something else which is interesting to most people.

        To me it seems appealing that the multiverse is in some steady state even if the
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:54AM (#23722193)

          Yeah but your balloon is embedded in a larger universe. You could define time in balloon terms but you could also come up with a definition of time which works before the balloon was inflated.
          A physical balloon is enclosed in our Universe were we can measure independently outside of it, but the balloon in the example only has the equipment for measuring time inside of itself. How do we know that our Universe is embedded in anything when like the balloon, we can only measure time here? We have to be strict on defining time in a physical sense, not a human sense. Displacement and velocity have meaning inside the balloon and we can use them to define time. How do you define displacement and velocity outside of the balloon? Do we have any reason whatsoever to believe that the physical laws that work inside the balloon are the same that would work outside the balloon?

          What we are doing is conjecturing. We know there is no experimental way to find out about meta-universes a posteriori, so we theorize a priori. One of my favorite a priori meta-universes that is completely consistent with our own universe is a computer simulation. In the same way that a computer on Earth can simulate the Universe in the game Pong without the physical laws being even remotely similar, our Universe could be simulated with the physical laws different from the simulator. That is, of course, if a simulator exists, which I don't know nor do I think we can ever know (unless the programmers put in Matrix-like quirks).

          I like the Pong example because you have a definite way to measure time (via position and velocity in the game, where velocity is the position increment per for loop). You can even pause the game in our Universe and it won't affect the time measurement in the game. If you paused the game for 1 second, let it continue for 5 s, and the paused it for 10 years, and then let it continue, the in game time would only be due to the position and velocity of the ball in the game. This is a great illustration of how even time isn't connected in the Pong Universe and our own.

          Why do we think that our concept of time in our balloon-like universe necessarily has to be the same as that of some conjectured universe that we might have come from?
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)
            It's an interesting idea but I don't believe that we're living in a simulator where the laws of physics are different anymore than I believe that God who was somehow outside the Universe created it. Mostly because there is no evidence that either are true, but for the deeper reason than it would open a whole new question of who or what made God or the simulator.

            Fred Hoyle proposed Steady State theory because you don't have a "moment of creation" that you need to explain. It didn't work, but if our universe
        • To me it seems appealing that the multiverse is in some steady state even if the universe isn't because that avoids the Big Bang being some sort of unique, magic Act of Creation.

          That's fine, but then you have to explain the multiverse in terms that are appealing (and by appealing I assume you mean some way that will not require any power, intelligence or authority greater than your own..). I don't have a problem with the Universe having been created, I think it's just as plausible that something created this Universe - though I don't know how whatever created it managed to come into existence, or always was in existence. It would be nice to think that there is another plane that w

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)

            That's fine, but then you have to explain the multiverse in terms that are appealing (and by appealing I assume you mean some way that will not require any power, intelligence or authority greater than your own..).

            Well no power that wasn't described by equations and in someway hardwired into reality. Certainly no intelligence. If the theory was complete it would explain the Big Bang.

            I don't have a problem with the Universe having been created, I think it's just as plausible that something created this Universe - though I don't know how whatever created it managed to come into existence, or always was in existence.

            Well our local bit of spacetime came into existence in the Big Bang. I just want an explanation for how that happened.

            It's like the water cycle. Once you read that you know people understand this stuff properly. If people told you that it rained because God wanted it to or that there is a singularity at the bottom of the drain where the

        • By definition the Big Bang is the singular point at which spacetime was created ex-nihilo. Thus to talk of a time before the Big Bang is wrong.

          What they mean is a time before the point in time at which proponents of Big Bang theory consider a singularity to have existed ... I guess that may be a bit of a mouthful.

          Incidentally the report of having form at it's start is rather reminiscent of running start theory popular in ID, or possibly creatio-ex-materia.
  • Membranes? (Score:3, Informative)

    by little1973 (467075) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:27AM (#23721675)
    Isn't this similar to membrains supported by String theory? According to String theory the whole universe is a membrain. When our universe (membrain) collides with another membrane a new membrain may be created.
  • Alternatively... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:34AM (#23721717)
    Their model suggests that new universes could be created spontaneously from apparently empty space.

    I take that to mean that universes could also be destroyed spontaneously...

    There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened. -- HHGG [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amRadioHed (463061)
      Not necessarily, at least in its current state. The universe today is quite a bit bigger than when it started.
  • mourn our lost ancient overlords.
  • Call me... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:48AM (#23721805) Journal
    Call me when they have observations, not hints and when it is reported by something else than BBC that wouldn't recognize a star from a galaxy
  • by Ai Olor-Wile (997427) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:54AM (#23721859) Homepage
    Although the word "universe" is now accepted to mean "the membrane of space that was created by the Big Bang," this is etymologically inaccurate. Outside of playful uses (such as "off in one's own universe" or a TV serial's universe) the word "universe" should be synonymous with "absolutely everything ever," and we ought to come up with some intermediary term (like "brane" if you feel like you require more than ten dimensions in order to explain quantum phenomena) to refer to this nice big bubble of matter-energy we've found ourselves encapsulated in.

    Good show about the microwave radiation, though. Now, let's hope that there isn't a film of Angels & Demons that is conveniently timed or anything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Absolutley everything ever = Omniverse

      Not to be confused with Multiverse.

      Our pocket is but one Universe.

      • by Ai Olor-Wile (997427) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:15AM (#23721989) Homepage
        No. Universe more-or-less means "one verse" in Latin, as in "the whole thing in one verse." Universals in Idealist philosophy were things that were always present, regardless of where you went, and applicable to everything that was material. You are using a back-formation created by someone who does not know their language history because they wanted to sound more ominous than "universe."
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Good thing your slashdot posts will turn this bulldozer trend around and return us to the one, true meaning of the words!
        • Question (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:45AM (#23723139) Homepage Journal
          What is the root and history of the word 'pedantic'?

          Languange and definitions evolve. Get over it. The term 'multiverse' has been around for a long time as has the concept of multiple 'Universes'. Relax. Have a beer.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            What is the root and history of the word 'pedantic'?

            Paidagogos, from Greek (paidos = child + agogos = leader), implied either a harsh schoolteacher, or a slave who escorted a child to school and generally watched over his education in a strict fashion. This later translated to Latin as paedagogus, and then French as pedagogue, where implications meant strict learning, down to correcting the most minor details. To the point, pedantic Is, of course, of (or like) a pedagogue. ....not to be pedantic or anything.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by simon_c_heath (688007)

        Absolutley everything ever = Omniverse Not to be confused with Multiverse. Our pocket is but one Universe.
        ...and the open source version is Liniverse.
    • by tm2b (42473)
      This is like complaining that "organic food" is no more carbon-based than other kinds of food.

      It's not useful to deliberately confuse the natural language sense of a word with a technical word of the same spelling and only somewhat related meaning. Other terms (such as the "brane" that you suggest) are biased towards particular interpretations of the data and are thus not desirable.
    • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:42AM (#23723755) Journal
      Although the word "nazi" is now accepted to mean "a person who is fanatically dedicated to, or seeks to control, some activity, practice, etc." this is etymologically inaccurate. Outside of playful uses (such as "grammar nazi" or a TV serial's "soup nazi") the word "nazi" should be synonymous with "a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party," and we ought to come up with some intermediary term (like "asshole" if you feel like you require a more abusive term) to refer to this kind of pedantic overbearing we've found ourselves saddled with.

      Word definitions and connotations have a tendency to move around quite a bit. The word "stink" for example, was once a neutral term to describe something giving off a scent, and now has decidedly negative connotation, if not being outright denotative of giving off a bad odor. Similarly, nazi once meant the members of the political party that established a murderous and expansionist totalitarian regime in Germany. Now it used to describe someone who likes to pick on people's misuse of its vs. it's.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kalidasa (577403)
      Etymologically, the word "atom" should mean "the smallest thing possible, than which nothing is smaller," as the Greek word (from a- + tmesis) means "uncuttable." Ever since we split the atom (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), we should have changed the name. But we didn't. Why? Because terminology works that way. Same thing with "universe."
  • ... Fruit flies like a banana.
  • Much of todays science really sounds more like philosophy than hard earned science. I want logic and data supporting scientific work and not just some coct up crazy theories thats more about debating skills than really proving something.
  • i don't see why the universe can't be endless in time and space, and the expansion and contraction we see is local, while somewhere else they are having a pinch. kind of like the choppy surface of the ocean on a windy day: troughs and peaks

    once we thought the earth was the center of the universe. we threw that centrism out the window. can't people see that the big bang theory is the same kind of centrism?: "this is all we know, therefore, that's all there is"

    if there is anything science teaches us, it is that we are not the center of everything
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by some old guy (674482)
      Very well put. I might add that it is a fundamental error in logic to attempt to define the boundaries of, or apply measurements to the scope of our little bubble without presupposing a greater realm beyond. For something to have boundaries, it must exist within something to be bound from. "Everything" can't exist apart from or within something else. It means what it says: everything.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      can't people see that the big bang theory is the same kind of centrism?

      I think you need to watch this [badastronomy.com].

      • by Jugalator (259273)

        can't people see that the big bang theory is the same kind of centrism?

        I think you need to watch this [badastronomy.com].

        I don't think the poster meant "centrism" in the literal sense, but in a more abstract sense. I.e. that it's naive to think that the big bang started it all, just because we have our single reference point (our universe). Like before as we thought we were the center of the Universe, just this time in a larger scale.

  • by pstaight (1304975) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:23AM (#23722035)

    As Hawking put it; asking what happened before the Big Bang is like asking what's north of the North Pole.

    What I take from his statement is that the universe can possibly map to a system with complex numbers where concepts similar to north of the North Pole exist. However, time does not apply until there are particles interacting with each other at rates that can be described with probability functions.

    The rates must be non-zero otherwise the universe would be over instantly. Going faster than the speed of light would be the same as going faster than the speed of time. Is this article claiming otherwise?

  • What if these new universes are actually our own universe, and we are contained infinitely within ourselves? And conversely, one of an infinite number of elements that are within ourselves?

    I really shouldn't be allowed on the internet this time of day.
    • [Bender takes the box from Farnsworth and shakes it. The building shakes.]

      LEELA: Bender, quit destroying the universe!
  • 1. Engage in baseless conjecture about alternative, unproveable universes.
    2. Define new branch of mathematics that can support a complex multi-dimensional model reinforcing your baseless conjecture.
    3. Publish in academic journals and popular media.
    4. Lecture to gullible masses.
    5. Profit!

    6. Avoid performing any work beneficial to mankind. ~
  • I've always liked to dream that our 3d universe is just the event horizon surface of a black hole in a 4d space. In this fantasy, the big bang is just our view of the supernova where the collapsing object's surface area and mass rapidly expanded. The rest of the 4d universe is inaccessible to us, just as the surface of a black hole in our universe has no way to "see" the rest of ours.
  • I am surprised that no one made a reference to Cosm [amazon.com] (I have the Hardcover instead of this one, thanks), from esteemed physicist G. Benford, for a science-fictional treatment of that very topic (universe creation).
  • by andersa (687550) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:42AM (#23723109)
    Sean Carroll explains things in more detail at his blog. http://cosmicvariance.com/ [cosmicvariance.com]
  • longer articles (Score:5, Informative)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:16AM (#23726553) Homepage
    The article the slashdot summary links to is basically a drastically shortened version of this recent article in Scientific American [sciam.com], plus a nutshell presentation of this paper [arxiv.org].
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:50PM (#23731801)
    Distinguished astrophysicist Fred Hoyle invented the term "big bang" to deride the idea of a universe with a compact origin. But the term caught on as standard.

    Lets now call pre-big bang time "foreplay".
  • by arodland (127775) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:38PM (#23741859)
    this seems to be very similar to an idea that Penrose had in the 70s and has been discussing a little bit recently, called the Weyl curvature hypothesis. The thing that seems to be novel about the hypothesis of Erickcek et al. is that apparently they have a mechanism for a new universe to pop up in a non-empty "parent" universe; Penrose's idea depends on the parent universe being completely devoid of massive objects, which depends (among other things) on proton decay and a truly huge amount of time.

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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