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Space Science

Study Hints At Time Before Big Bang 408

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 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. []
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Leonard Fedorov ( 1139357 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:15AM (#23722317)
    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 Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) * on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:34AM (#23722463) Homepage Journal

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

    I think you need to watch this [].

  • by andersa ( 687550 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:42AM (#23723109)
    Sean Carroll explains things in more detail at his blog. []
  • Re:Call me... (Score:3, Informative)

    by devnullkac ( 223246 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:43AM (#23723763) Homepage

    How about publication in Scientific American []?

  • by kalidasa ( 577403 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:55AM (#23723919) Journal
    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."
  • 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 [], plus a nutshell presentation of this paper [].
  • by JesusPGT ( 624264 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:17AM (#23726597)
    Just in case you didn't get the reference: Brane []
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:20AM (#23726659) Journal

    Hrm? There is nothing more complex with multiple big bangs than a single one other than the fact that would just mean more of them.

    Indeed, but that's not what Occam's Razor is about. You may predict or explain any event or thing, no matter how complicated. Occam's Razor is only about _how_ you explain it.

    Basically, imagine that you walk through an apple orchard on a windy day, and an apple falls on your head. Let's pick two possible explanations:

    1. Probably the wind shook a branch and an apple fell.

    2. The Illuminati hired a secret Ninja clan from Japan, to follow you around and drop an apple on your head when a good opportunity presents itself. And they picked a windy day so the rustle of leaves would hide their noises.

    Basically Occam's Razor just says that if explanation #1 explains it well enough, go with explanation #1. There is no need to complicate it with unneeded extra elements.

    Incidentally, from a science point of view, #1 also has _some_ predictive power. You can, for example, calculate what the probability is to get hit by an apple, or in what season it's more likely, or whether you need to wear a hard hat or it'll likely be just a minor bruise. Explanation #2 is pretty worthless, since there's no way to predict who the Illuminati want to drop an apple on and on what date. You don't even know whether to wear a hard hat, since they might drop an apple made of lead if they want to. (Ninjas can do stuff like that;)

    On the other hand, if explanation #1 doesn't explain it, _then_ you can look for a more complex explanation. E.g., if you were walking through a banana plantation and an apple fell on your head, maybe it wasn't the wind after all.

    But again, this all has to do with the explanation, not with the thing you explain or predict.
  • Re:AFAIK (Score:5, Informative)

    by scribblej ( 195445 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:26AM (#23726775)
    I think you fail in your understanding of the razor.

    You see, it's used for deciding between two propositions. "The universe exists" might be one, but you need another to decide... so let's pick an obvious alternative. "The universe doesn't exist." OK. Now we try to apply the razor. Only there's a problem, see. Occham's Razor can only be applied when both theories fully explain the observations; only one "multiplies entities beyond necessity" -- which is fancy talk for "includes more than the other," basically. The problem here is the alternative hypothesis, "the universe doesn't exist" is going to require a /lot/ more explanation to fit. It doesn't fully explain the observations. Now you have to explain how, if it doesn't exist, we still seem to experience it as though it did. Any explanation you come up with for that is necessarily going to be far more complex than the alternative.

    So I'm only really responding to you because at least one mod thought what you said was clever. With no malice, I'm telling you it's not clever, it's ignorant. A lot of people misunderstand Ockham's razor and jokes like yours don't help the matter any.

    If you are saying that the existence of the universe would not have been /predicted/ by an application of Ockham's razor, you are talking nonsense on several levels. First off, it's not a predictor. It's just a simple reminder that adding "extra shit" into your theories is rarely a good idea. If you're going to put something into a theory, it needs to be something that's justified by the observations. Ockham's Razor is only good for helping decide when you've screwed up and included more than is necessary. Secondly, it doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about predicting the creation of the universe, I don't think. But maybe TFA has a few things to teach me on that point.

    I hope that helps someone.

  • by dustman ( 34626 ) <{ten.cltt} {ta} {yraeld}> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:20PM (#23732623)

    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.
    Quite wrong, actually.

    If you are measuring the cosmic background radiation, you are detecting photons.

    If the background radiation is truely random, and you sample 100 photons, the chances of one 'side' being 10% stronger than the other are not that unlikely.

    If you sample 1M photons, the chances of one 'side' being 10% stronger than the other is vanishingly small. At this point, you should start to rethink your hypothesis (that the cosmic background radiation is truely random, coming in from all directions).

    If you set up your experiment to 'watch' the CBR for a month or a year, there are literally trillions upon trillions of samples. It's difficult to communicate how unlikely it would be to see one side 10% stronger than the other, if the CBR were truely random.

    It's like when you throw pebbles/beans/whatever small object on a surface and observe the results versus when you ask someone to create a pseudo-random repartition by hand.
    It's not like that at all, unless you mean your 'small object' is on the order of a grain of sand, and your 'handful' is several million tons of this sand.

    (someone that has no idea how "nature's" randomness works).
    Irony. Palpable.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.