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Space Science

Was There Only One Big Bang? 295

Posted by samzenpus
from the irrational-universe dept.
goldaryn writes "Physorg.com is running an interesting story about the work of Oxford-based theoretical physicist Roger Penrose. Penrose has been studying CWB radiation and believes it's possible that space and time did not come into being at the Big Bang but that our universe in fact continually cycles through a series of 'aeons.' He believes that he has found evidence supporting his theory that the universe infinitely cycles."
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Was There Only One Big Bang?

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  • ...and its still lost the plot.

  • Old hat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FTWinston (1332785)
    This is hardly a new idea... My understanding was that it had been proven to be impossible to see any detailed information about the previous universe, as the big bang effectively destroyed almost all information about it.
    • Re:Old hat (Score:5, Informative)

      by weorthe (666189) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:57AM (#34341364)
      According to the article, concentric circles of temperature variation in the cosmic background radiation were caused by successive massive black holes, some of which supposedly predate the big bang.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by FTWinston (1332785)

        Mm, but I meant detailed information as in "oh, there was a planet full of wonky aliens over there" or "there was another Earth in the previous universe!"

        Consider that a black hole can be classically described by only 3 parameters: its mass, its charge and its angular momentum ... there ain't much detailed information there.

      • Re:Old hat (Score:5, Informative)

        by epiphani (254981) <epiphaniNO@SPAMdal.net> on Thursday November 25, 2010 @10:14AM (#34342344)

        I saw Penrose speak on this topic at the Perimeter Institute about two years ago. He has been working on this for quite a while.

        You captured the essence of his hypothesis. The idea is that in the latter stages of a universe, you eventually get two supermassive black holes orbiting each other - each containing half of the matter in the universe. As they rotate around each other, they're effectively ripping each other apart from the massive gravity wells. His theory is that the point at which they finally coalesce after billions of years of orbit, space and time "reset", and in that same instant the big bang takes place.

        His premise is that not all of the energy has been completely contained within the singularity. When the big bang happens, the outlying energy causes rings in the background radiation.

        Funny thing was, two days before his talk he got the first results back from the radiation survey. They didn't find rings, they found ovals. And in his words "we have no idea what that means".

        It's great to see that he's making progress.

      • OK (Score:3, Funny)

        by Onymous Coward (97719)

        I see what you did there. Very clever. Actually reading the article and summarizing it rather than telling the GP to RTFA, thus avoiding a backlash from GP, and the attendant waste of time flame war, while promoting useful discussion. Nice work. This merits a stamp of approval.

        OK

    • Re:Old hat (Score:5, Informative)

      by simoncpu was here (1601629) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @07:03AM (#34341396)
      Galactus, the sole survivor of the universe existing before the Big Bang, disagrees.
    • Re:Old hat (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zr-rifle (677585) <zedr@zeRABBITdr.com minus herbivore> on Thursday November 25, 2010 @07:11AM (#34341428) Homepage
      Proven with what? Our grasp of physics can only let us understand what probably happened minutes after the Big Bang occured. According to this model, complete removal of information occurs at the end of the cycle, or aeon, when black holes evaporate and the universe returns into a pristine state, just like a blank slate.

      I think it's easier to understand what we are talking about if you imagine the universe as a white blanket.

      Before the big bang occurs, the blanket perfectly smooth, just like it was well ironed. Then, a massive jolt causes it to fold, crease and wrinkle: this is information, i.e. matter. Entropy could probably act as a gradual, unstoppable force that gradually puts the blanket under tension again.
      The end of universe, therefore, is the return to a pristine state completely devoid of information. Suppose you spill a cup of coffee over the blanked: it is now tainted, but this doesn't necessary interfere with the distension process of prohibit the blanket from returning to a perfectly smooth state. However, if you take a look at the tainted blanket, it obviously isn't perfectly white as before.

      Therefore, the Big Bang acts as a creator of new information, not as a destructor of previous information.
      • Re:Old hat (Score:5, Informative)

        by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @08:49AM (#34341812)

        Proven with what? Our grasp of physics can only let us understand what probably happened minutes after the Big Bang occured. According to this model, complete removal of information occurs at the end of the cycle, or aeon, when black holes evaporate and the universe returns into a pristine state, just like a blank slate.

        Milliseconds, not minutes, but yeah. At about t+4ms, the strong forces came into existence. Before that, the math completely falls apart, and we have no idea what was happening. We don't even know if time itself was constant, and as we percieve it those first 4ms could have taken a billion years or more.

        This isn't, by any stretch, a new idea, though. It's very similar to the Hindu/Buddhist cosmologies, which have been around for thousands of years. Sure, the hindus do use the notion of Brahma and the Manus to explain the passing of cycles, but both faiths teach that the universe goes through an infinite cycle of expansion, stability, and collapse, and that time goes off into infinite in either direction from here. This scientist's "new idea"? It's been around for at least 5,000 years.

        • logic (Score:3, Insightful)

          by t2t10 (1909766)

          Buddhist cosmology isn't really "religious"; whether it is true or not has little bearing on whether you're a Buddhist. The cyclic model in Buddhist cosmology simply makes sense and avoids issues of first causes and the end of time.

          In contrast, Christian cosmology is used to justify Christianity: if Christian cosmology is wrong, the whole theological edifice of Christianity comes crashing down. Christian cosmology also fails to address the question of where God comes from.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          At about t+4ms, the strong forces came into existence. Before that, the math completely falls apart, and we have no idea what was happening.

          I might add that this is all based on the assumption that we even know how everything works with the present forces of the universe. You know, those forces that can't account for 95% of the apparent mass-energy of the cosmos.

          Of course, any pattern in the CMB could be significant, and it could be the result of pre-big-bang structure. Of course, where that structure ori

        • > Milliseconds, not minutes, but yeah. At about t+4ms, the strong forces came into existence.

          Probably get down-modded for asking a genuine question but anyways ...

          From where? By what cause? And more importantly WHY?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            And the truth is, whoever can actually answer that question will be collecting a Nobel prize for it.

            It's a question philosophers, scientists, religious types, and basically everybody has been trying to answer since humans first became sentient, and at this point, if you ask any 5 people why it all came into existence, you'll get 10 answers.

      • You imagine a large blank space where suddenly big bang happens and matter gets created. But Big Bang is when the space itself gets created. It is difficult to imagine, very difficult to describe using plain ascii text, and would be whoosh over my head even if the best presentation media is used. Best thing to do would be to ignore these speculation by the physicists. If they eventually come up with something that is accepted by large number of other physicists and come up with experiments or astronomical o
        • Best thing to do would be to ignore these speculation by the physicists. If they eventually come up with something that is accepted by large number of other physicists and come up with experiments or astronomical observations to back it up, that is when we laypeople should pay attention. Else we will be wasting our time following them barking up the wrong tree, er, spurious solutions.

          So, this means we should quit reading Physorg.com and just watch 'Dancing with the Stars'?

      • "Suppose you spill a cup of coffee over the blanket: its now tainted".

        Since you are talking about the universe, the above statement would imply that something outside of it is having an effect, which is by definition not possible. Likewise the "stain" would seem to imply that some matter would or could be differentiated at some fundamental level from other matter as part of the process. This seems to make any mathematical model of the universe an intractable potentially infinite number of "unique" terms w

      • by t2t10 (1909766)

        Wow, you say all that with such certainty as if all of that were known.

        Fact is that nobody can say even with any confidence what happened around the big bang, how the universe is going to end, or whether any information survives the/a big bang/crunch. Even non-big-bang models of the universe can't be excluded based on what's known.

      • I stopped taking you seriously when you drew a conclusion about the real world based on a blanket analogy without first considering if the blanket analogy was good enough to make that conclusion.
    • Re:Old hat (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sznupi (719324) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @07:16AM (#34341452) Homepage

      Many Big Bangs / inflations doesn't even have to mean complete recycling of, well, everything - for example [wikipedia.org].

    • Sure, the idea is not new, in fact there's probably some ancient religions with the same notion. The news is that these scientists appear to have measured something that corroborates this idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SenseiLeNoir (699164)

      Hindu Philosophy (Or More Specifically Dharmic Philosophy, which coveres a than just Hinduism/Religion) Has always seen the universe as a creation/destruction cycle, with multiple cycles of creation/destruction.

  • Pretty old theory (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Pretty old theory, that gave rose to various philosophical question, like if it is recurring, is the outcome always the same, or different every time?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return

    Indians first came this theory to light, Nietzsche spend quite sometime thinking about this, Kundera wrote a book around it: The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

    • by Dutchmaan (442553)
      Well let's assume that it's different every time and is infinitely repeatable, like rolling near infinitely sided dice. Then a person, place etc.. will exist at some point in every conceivable way it CAN exist. and IF by some chance we have no perception of time when we die, then in fact we will exist again in what would be to us, an instant, in every way we CAN exist.
      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Well let's assume that it's different every time and is infinitely repeatable, like rolling near infinitely sided dice. Then a person, place etc.. will exist at some point in every conceivable way it CAN exist. and IF by some chance we have no perception of time when we die, then in fact we will exist again in what would be to us, an instant, in every way we CAN exist.

        That makes a lot of assumptions about the nature of consciousness. Would we exist in every way, or would consciousness follow a thread to one of the possible ways so that we experience them one at a time? Would we experience them at all or would it be someone else? Why does everyone here seem to be on the very first life? (I know in infinite possibilities it has to happen somewhere, but there must be a lot more first lives that are on worlds where some are on later lives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by IBBoard (1128019)

        Then a person, place etc.. will exist at some point in every conceivable way it CAN exist.

        Wow, who needs Thought Police. Everyone should now be imprissoned because they must, in some instantiation of themselves, have committed some awful crime. Why worry about whether it is in this universe or another? Safer to just lock them all up anyway.

  • I proposed the same idea while visiting CERN with a student group when I was 17. My reasoning involved the anthropic principle, since the time between big crunches and big bangs could approach infinity. I was told me my idea was as good as theirs'.

    Now I think that space may be infinite and that vacuum may fluctuate in places with no matter to such a degree that time slows down from the presence of so much mass. My generalization is that if stuff isn't expressively disallowed, they are true and there is a re

  • Before the Big Bang (Score:5, Informative)

    by Narpak (961733) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:56AM (#34341354)
    There is a BBC Horizon episode up on youtube called What Happened Before the Big Bang [youtube.com]. Interviews with several physicists about different ideas on the topic of what might have preceded our universe.
    • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @07:52AM (#34341568)

      ... it was rather dumbed down with lots of silly graphics and other dicking about from the guy in the editing suite, shots of people walking backwards and forwards and a narrator asking loads of questions that the program didn't really give the interviewees enough time to answer properly. And when they did it was obvious they'd been told to keep it simple. Which was a shame , it had great potential but there seems to be a line of thought in British TV at the moment , not just the BBC, that people just can't handle difficult science in more than 30 second dollops before the viewing needs a break. Thank heavens for TED.

    • by dotancohen (1015143) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @07:55AM (#34341572) Homepage

      I just watched the first two parts. Absolute garbage. They try to compare synonyms, such as why do "regular explosions" produce chaos, but the "big bang explosion" produced order. It's not the same idea of explosion!?!

      They even mention that the early exponential expansion of the universe was "unprecedented". Really? The universe was 10^-30 seconds old when it happened!

      I'll not waste time on the remaining parts.

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      interesting video, but that aluminum vacuum chamber has one flaw, even though they can pump out all the atmosphere and molecules there is something that can not be pumped out and that is earth's gravitational pull.

      The Matrix Vs. Carl Sagan [youtube.com]
  • by polar red (215081) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @07:04AM (#34341402)

    no to big-bang-centricity ! your universe is not the center of the multiverse !

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @08:15AM (#34341662)

      no to big-bang-centricity ! your universe is not the center of the multiverse !

      You bastard! You're trying to make us humans even more insignificant than we already are??

      We already admitted that Europe isn't the center of the world.
      We already admitted that the world isn't the center of the solar system/universe
      We already admitted that the sun isn't the center of the galaxy
      We already admitted that our galaxy isn't the center of the universe

      You're trying to make us admit that even our universe isn't the center of the multiverses?

      Damn you!

  • It would make sense, given that all its sub structures behave in that way. The universe as one huge-ass string.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      It would make sense, given that all its sub structures behave in that way. The universe as one huge-ass string.

      By huge-ass string I think you are saying that the universe is a piece of shit. No argument there

    • by fyngyrz (762201)

      The universe as one huge-ass string.

      ...so what happens if I pull on this?

      OOOPS!

  • by ledow (319597)

    My brother is an astrophysicist. The way he explained it to me is thus (and I believe this is pretty accurate, but dumbed down for the non-physicist in me):

    There's a variable in the calculations that determine what happens in between "Big Bangs".

    If the variable is less than 1, then the universe contracts to a point, and then explodes again, forever exploding and then crunching.

    If the variable is more than 1, then the universe expands forever, getting cooler and cooler and never shrinks back even when there

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Basically. You're talking about the critical density of the universe. This is about 1, meaning that the universe is "flat" -- so it's infinite in extent and basically composed of a load of flat sheets rather than saddle shapes or spheres. So far as we can tell it's exactly 1. (It's pretty easy to tell, actually. We can look at the ripples in the universe back from when it was 370,000 years old, and then look at *those same ripples* from when the universe was about 10 billion years old. Those ripples have a

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fyngyrz (762201)

      Since our physics don't apply anywhere near the big bang, there are no calculations that can tell you what goes on if such an event were to occur; likewise, while projecting backwards until you get to something ridiculous (cosmologists call the ridiculous point a singularity, but what they mean is that nothing we know applies there, which is ridiculous from the standpoint of continuing with any attempt at explanation (no framework).) Once you've reached the ridiculous, traipsing onward and trying to imagin

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'd try and defend my profession but I won't because you're quite right. We can happily build models for pre-big bang theories but until we've got a good reason to believe in a way to go with high-energy physics, it's all just phenomenology -- a mathematical way of waving your hands, basically. No-one's actually denying this; if you read the papers on this kind of model they'll tend to wave their hands madly and talk about modifications arising from M theory and low-energy effective field theories. All that

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by node 3 (115640)

        That's like saying it's absurd to study black holes because we can't fully model them. We don't have to, because viewing them gives us enough information to understand quite a bit about them and use that to adjust our models. For the big bang, we can't tell mathematically what happened before it, but observation can yield data to form more seemingly accurate models.

        All done through science, no religion required.

  • by lxs (131946) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @07:28AM (#34341486)

    ...and boy are it's legs tired.

  • Isn't time just infinite cycles?
    I don't understand his point. Time itself is just the measurement of infinite change in states. The universe is infinite because it expands as we measure it, just like Pi.

  • Pulse (Score:4, Interesting)

    by programmerar (915654) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @08:11AM (#34341648) Journal

    It may even be that "our" big bang and "our" universe is one of many in the great infiniteness of the.. universe. Just like there are more planets, more solar systems, more galaxies other than our own. Just like cells in the human body, and atoms within the cells...

    Time is irrelevant unless measured, eg by a human. So this pulse may be as normal as any pulsating object, large or small.

    The mind wanders..

  • ...scientists discover faint traces of music using the latest telescope technologies. In a reaction, one of the scientists who discovered the phenomena explained: 'It is strange, but somehow a distant background soundwave, transported from the beginning of the big bang into the now, appears to be omnipresent in our universe.'
    After further research, the soundwave was found to actually be a song, namely "I got you babe" from Sonny&Cher.
    Additionally, the scientists discover that the universe must have sta
  • Been done (Score:3, Informative)

    by JustOK (667959) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @08:27AM (#34341710) Journal

    The Doctor already did it last season.

  • the theorie of Black Holes gave the idea to the BigBang theory - they just applied time-reversal!.

    So if several Black Holes can co-exist - why not several Big-Bangs?

    When looking at the jets BackHoles and other cosmic entities emit - I ask myself if this jet at its exit point looks just like after a BigBang?

    If some cosmic theories postulate that gravity gets weaker and weaker - maybe that is the trigger which makes the mass concentrations in Black-Holes decide that it is time to leave the nest *g*

    and

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      "the theorie of Black Holes gave the idea to the BigBang theory - they just applied time-reversal!."

      No 'they' didn't. Black holes are based on inhomogeneous solutions to Einstein's equations -- the first being the Schwarzschild solution describing a spherical, uncharged body embedded in flat spacetime, with Reisser-Nordstrom, Kerr and Kerr-Newman adding in electromagnetic fields, rotation and then both respectively.

      Cosmology is based on Friedman-LeMaitre-Robertson-Walker solutions, which impose maximal symm

      • by kubitus (927806)
        thanks, do you have URL(s) to easy reading on getting an idea about Friedman-LeMaitre-Robertson-Walker cosmology?

        the white hole sounds plausible to me.

        Any comment on the assumption that gravity gets weaker and my imagination of the consequences of such an event?

  • that our universe in fact continually cycles through a series of 'aeons.'

    There's a restaurant, too, isn't there.

  • About the author... (Score:3, Informative)

    by FrootLoops (1817694) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @09:32AM (#34342096)
    Sir Roger Penrose [wikipedia.org] is one of the more prominent living physicists. Penrose tilings [wikipedia.org] were named after him (in a nutshell, they generate infinitely complex mosaics with only a few tile types). These tilings later came up in quasicrystals [wikipedia.org]. He also invented twistor theory [wikipedia.org] in the 60's, which is another way to view spacetime. Ed Witten [wikipedia.org] of string theory/M-theory fame--perhaps the second most famous living physicist behind Hawking (my opinion)--applied twistor theory to string theory in 2003. Penrose has controversial views on human consciousness and has suggested our brains must work by a quantum mechanical process. He's written several books on the subject including The Emporer's New Mind [amazon.com]. He won the Dirac Medal and Prize [wikipedia.org] in 1989 (Hawking won in 1987; Witten won a similarly-named award in 1985) and has won a laundry list of other awards for theoretical physics. He was knighted in 1994 for his contributions to physics, is an emeritus professor at the University of Oxford, and is 79.
  • CWB (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary DOT ad ... privacy AT gmail> on Thursday November 25, 2010 @09:38AM (#34342144)
    I think you got this CWB thing completely upside down.
  • I think the reason why some people thing there was another big bang is because some of the same actors appeared in a different series, but it wasn't big bang, is was Roseanne.

    • by MRe_nl (306212)

      So after the Big Bang we get Roseanne again?
      I'm not entirely comfortable with this hypothesis.
      As one AC once printed "There is as yet insufficient data for a meaningful answer".I think I'll just grab that straw thank you very much.

      • by JustOK (667959)

        but, consider that the big bang theory has a connection to the startrekieverse...what if the nielsen fluxuator was reversed popularized?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Combatso (1793216)
      The Big Bang happened when the mass of Roseanne came in to contact with the mass of Tom Arnold...

      Factoid: The actor in question is the little boy in Christmas Vacation.. I was shocked to discover that for some reason
  • "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable."
  • The Universe is just breathing.

  • Are we looking at the rings from the centre of these concentric rings? I couldn't find that in the article. If so, there may be something very wrong with his theory. While it could be possible, I doubt chance would put us there.

  • I gave a talk on this for students at my school recently. Penrose has a popular-level book out on the topic, which came out a few months before the publication of this claimed observation. The paper describing the observation is here [arxiv.org]. Here [newton.ac.uk] is a talk Penrose gave at Cambridge in 2005 on the topic.

    If this is right, then it's certainly a huge discovery. There are at least two pretty big problems, however.

    (1) Penrose's model requires some mechanism by which 100% of the massive particles in the universe get

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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