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  • February 2008
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Before the Big Bang, what was there?

Before the Big Bang, what was there?
John Beard from Cambridgeshire (age 55+)

What was there before the universe?
Zakaria Rashid from Greater London
Age 5-14

They talk about the big bang, but what was there before the big bang, why was there just an empty darkness, where did it come from and why?
Dez from Derbyshire
Age 35-44

If our universe began with a ‘Big Bang’, where did the components for the big bang come from? How can our existence ever be entirely explained? Where do all the universes end? They cannot end. It makes my head hurt just trying to imagine the enormity of these questions. It’s exciting and terrifying.
Mrs Linda Bryant from West Sussex
Age 55+

Was there anything before the big bang? What is space?
Jonathan Hawkins from Powys (Aged 15-25)

What triggered the big bang? If there was nothing beforehand, and as space is linked with time, that was also the beginning of time, how did it happen that all this matter appeared from nowhere and started expanding?
Ed Rixon from Berkshire (aged 15-25)

What existed before the Big Bang? I.e. what was it that went bang?
Rob Mansfield from Telford and Wrekin (Age: 55+ )

How did the universe begin? What was around BEFORE it began, and what triggered it to begin? Are or were there conscious particles that felt drawn to each other for company? Bringing the earth with them?
Leah J. Warren-Williams from Somerset (age 5-14)


23 Responses

  1. It has been suggested by some very clever people that before the big bang there was nothing, except a thing called a singularity in which all the matter was compressed into a tiny space with an enormous density.

    Nobody really knows for sure and as yet there is no unified theory that can relate macro events such as the big bang to quantum behaviour. Prof Hawking has not managed it yet and he’s many times cleverer that me!

  2. Were there to have been a singularity then time would have been required to change from a singularity into a big bang. Prof. Hawking has said time came into existance at the big bang. There was no before, so no cause and effect. Logically the universe does not exist, so look for something not based on human logic.

    David Whight

  3. The physicist Richard Feynman said that if you think that you understand quantum mechanics then you don’t understand quantum mechanics!!

    It just goes to show that scientists need to have imagination just as much as artists – not that I’m suggesting that they are making it up, all the theories have to be backed up by mathematical proofs and experimentation.

  4. This is a philosophical, not a scientific, question.

    As the late, great, philosopher, David Hume pointed out a couple of hundred years ago, there is nothing logically contradictory with the notion of there being an uncaused, first moment of time. The first moment of the universe is the first moment of time, from which it follows that there could not be anything before it. End of story.

    Of course, it certainly FEELS very strange, and is difficult to swallow, that the universe had no cause (surely SOMETHING must have caused it??!!). Perhaps this is because our whole experience is of a world of things with causes.

    But then is it really surprising that the beginning of the universe, the beginning of existence itself, is a little bit different to the kind of things we experience in the world around us?

    (I actually believe that the difficulty in believing that the universe did not have a cause is rooted in a commensense, but ultimately incorrect, view of time. But that’s just what I think…)

  5. I know that it must seem like a scientific’cop-out’, but how can we ever know what happened before the Universe came into existance? I don’t know how we can expect to know this as all our understanding (so far) assumes that what happens in the observable Universe is constrained by a certain number of physical laws. It has taken scientists centuries to unravel these laws of physics that attempt to explain how the Universe ‘seems’ to work. The operative word here is ‘seems’. In order to understand what happens on the large scale, we must also determine what happens on the very small scale. This is because all matter is constructed from atoms. It would be nice if the same basic laws that govern the behaviour of small scale structures like atoms, were the same as the laws that govern the behaviour of large scale structures like galaxies. Unfortunately, try as we might ,at present we cannot absolutely reconcile these two conditions.
    Moreover, our understanding depends on the ability to imagine some very abstract concepts, some of which are truly mind boggling and totally at odds with our everyday experience. As human beings, it is very difficult for us to imagine a state of nothingness, for example, or a structure that exists in more than 3 dimensions. It is equally difficult for us to see how if we shoot a photon at a pair of slits, it appears to go through both of them at the same time! It is even more difficult to imagine virtual particles that ‘seem’ to suddenly appear out of nowhere!
    Our main problem in trying to describe these sort of events, is that they are way outside our normal daily experience and we just don’t have the vocabulary to adequately describe them and only a very few people like Stephen Hawking, have the imagination to visualize them.
    If we can’t easily explain what is happening in the Universe as it exists today, how can we even contemplate what happened before it came into existance? For all we know, at such a time, the laws that we have slowly and painfully discovered, may not apply at all; if there was infinite ‘nothingness’ then there was nothing for physical laws to apply to.
    I am afraid that we may never know what happened before the Universe, as we know it, came into existence. But I am equally sure that it won’t stop us from thinking about it. This is what makes science so fascinating.

  6. Humans always tend to wonder how time energy and matter first came in to existence at the beginning of the universe from what they assume was a natural state of nothingness. But it could be the other way around. Perhaps it is impossible for nothing to exist and we are in the eternal natural state.

  7. Humans always seem to assume that the start of the universe is virtually inconceivable because it requires the creation of something out of a natural state of nothingness. But it could be the other way around. Perhaps the natural state is for matter or energy to exist and the impossibility is for nothing to exist.

  8. Hj Folks :).
    Perhaps a clue to the answer lies in the theory that the origins of time coincided with the first change of state, when incredibly big and incredibly dense stars exploded (into supernovae) to produce the stars, planetary systems and chemical compositions which form life as we know it now.
    Perhaps a ‘mutually self-repelling’ condition – the opposite of gravity – which may have provided the means for the distribution of all these galaxies did rule before time began.
    Perhaps certain parallels can be drawn with the predicted behaviour of energy in and around Black Holes!
    It could be that as we learn more about these reversal zones that an answer to the fundemental question becomes more apparent.
    This is a perspective which offers an alternative route for speculation, don’t you think?
    Good Luck,

  9. We may be like ants in a bigger system that we cannot comprehend and any attempt to answer the question is pure speculation. Live and be happy!

  10. There had to be something there before it. Even nothing is something, but if there was absolutely nothing, nothing would have caused anything to exist. All humans had a first moment of existance and there were countless moments before it. If there was a tiny ‘ball’ of high density matter, where did that come from? What was around it? If a living thing was in fact there, would it age, or was there actually no time? How would you fit infinate matter into a finate, high density ‘ball’? The term ‘anything is possible’ may or may not relate to this, for is this a question that is impossible to answer?

  11. http://www.physorg.com/news126955971.html

    “Before the Big Bang: A Twin Universe?”

    “Now, physicists Alejandro Corichi from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Parampreet Singh from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario have developed a simplified LQG [Loop Quantum Gravity] model that gives an intriguing answer: a pre-Big Bang universe might have looked a lot like ours. Their study will appear in an upcoming issue of Physical Review Letters.”

  12. Who knows, but dont tell.

    Do we live in the universe or is there a multiverse.
    One thing we can say for sure is that there must have been
    a reason for our universe to get started.

  13. something about a bubble that surrounded the universe, then the universe was too big for the bubble to contain, then the big bang happened…
    i dunno the rest

  14. Doug Daniels, on March 14th, 2008 at 4:12 pm said:
    It would be nice if the same basic laws that govern the behaviour of small scale structures like atoms, were the same as the laws that govern the behaviour of large scale structures like galaxies. Unfortunately, try as we might ,at present we cannot absolutely reconcile these two conditions.

    Indian cosmology says that before our universe came into existence there was another universe which had passed out of existence – that just like everything we know, if there is a beginning there is an end; when there’s birth there is death – right down to the micro level of the breath going in and out, and thoughts coming and going. So existence is thought of as being simply an eternal rhythm of arising and passing, and that is why it is thought very strange to have the idea that we might only experience one lifetime.

  15. i am convinced that there was something “before” the big bang. I think that a star formed a black hole that then exploded to form the big bang. I think this star is what the relgious people called “god” and that when we die, we too form a black hole, die and then form a new universe in “our” image…and thus it continues ad infintum except with us now taking the part of god able to know everything that is occuring.

  16. It was a freak of mericles that such a thing happened creating reality out of non matter is entirely possible giving the benifit of a slight burst in spontainious imagination HA

  17. All of the above comments look at things from a human standpoint. As always the most elegant explanation of things is usually the simplest. In the beginning, Jehovah created the heavens and the earth. Period. How exactly he did it, we will never know until he reveals it to us

  18. Before the universe, there was nothing, but this nothingness created unbalance which should tell you that it has to find balance, even for nothingness.
    Light, heat, mass, and time caused the riff which made the change (AKA.. Big Bang). We are part of that cosmetic balancing act that is taking time to level out.

    The universe only wants to balance itself and is doing a fine job at it. It’s just takes many thousands of generations to see results.

    “It’s all about Love” and “I’ll be thinking” is what started all of this.

    And it took Six Day’s to do all of this in. The answer is right in front of you.

  19. I believe that something existed before the ‘ Big Bang’. It was time…. When some claim that time did not exist before big bang, they mean that it is their ‘reference point’ in time from which we could measure our existence.( just like we take zero as a reference point on a 2D graph). So Time is eternal… But the point in time when big bang occured is our starting point in time, before which we assume there was no time!

    now what we call Space is nothing but a vast emptiness where the energy( light heat mass) gets to roam…. how can u ever define emptiness? we can define, its lack of space. ( just as darkness is absence of light and cold is absence of heat, vaccum is absence of matter). so this emptiness or SPACE is absence of energy.

    So there was unending space and there was unending time before the ‘big bang’. At certain point in time and space there was a big bang and our universe came into existence. Big bang was a result of condensed matter exploding into space… but where did this matter come from, Obviously it came from another point in space and time. or we can say that energy from various points in space and time concentrated at a specific point. so we can say there was space, time and energy scattered all over different points in space and time before the Big bang. So there was a force that caused this concentration, or may be there was no force. it was merely a coincidence… Energy traveled different points in space and time, it began to attract each other, forming a condensed mass which eventually exploded. So the same continues… scattered finite particles come together, condense, explode, scatter, again condense explode and scatter…. such events would continue until there is EQUAL AMOUNT OF ENERGY AND MASS IN ‘SPACE AND TIME’ ( energy condenses into mass and mass explodes to give energy)…..attaining this equality is highly impossible if energy or mass cant travel in past but only continue travelling in the future…..

    This theory accounts the past present and future of big bang. But we dont know what is going to happen. If Our space is curved then eventually our future will bring us back to the same point in past with respect to space( assuming that only travel in future is possible). But on that same point in space it would be a different time! I can’t happen to think beyond this space time spiral…. Spiral did i say spiral…. does it mean our ‘spacetime’ is cylindrical?( and not a flat sheet? ) how many space time spirals are present?

    Devanshi Patel

    copyrights reserved. lol 🙂

  20. Devanshi Patel:

    I have read your comments over and over and consider it a real well thought out comment. Thank you for the insight.

    Your comment that I can not get over is ” … but where did this matter come from, ” is so intriguing that it is constantly in my sub-thought.


    I am a Christian and believe in God because I see his work and hear his words.

    I believe that God put the moon where it is as well as the rest of the celestial bodies because God wanted us to discover His mysteries.

    Mankind is suppose to ask why and then earn the right to know by discovery. This is part of the plan.

    To pose the comments that matter was created or “just” became, is huge in my opinion because it questions why would the matter have been there in the first place. Things just wouldn’t come from nothingness. Did something come from what would otherwise be regarded as nothingness or “space”. I think not.

    If TIME (as we classify it) is eternal forward and backward, then the Big Bang could be one of a googolplex of Big Bang’s that have occurred or will occur sometime forward.

    Of course the next question is where does the energy come from? E=mc2 is algebraic and therefore must be balanced. So where does the mass (matter) get it energy from? Or where does energy get it mass (matter) from?

    FYI. I have enjoyed reading the book “In Six Days” which helps me understand the complexly of what we have to discover and why there has to be a master plan in place for us.


  21. What existed before the Big Bang? To be honest, none of us were there, so we cannot really say. This question is beyond the realm of science because it is neither observable nor repeatable.
    I believe that before any of the universe existed, there was one Being whom we call God. Since He was the only one there, He is the only one qualified to tell us about it. And what is wonderful is that He has told us about it in the Bible. He tells us in Genesis 1 that He created the universe (including plants, birds, sea creatures, land animals, and mankind) in six literal 24-hour days.
    Yes, I accept this by faith. But it takes just as much faith to believe that the universe began with a speck or a bubble or something else or nothing at all. To me, it would take more faith to believe that everything came from nothing or from something inanimate than to believe that everything was designed by an infinitely wise Creator.

  22. Time is an illusion. Space exists in time, and time exists in space. As humans, we have learned that one thing fits in another, therefore, both cannot exist in each other. We’re wrong. It’s impossible to discover the secrets of the universe in our current state.

    The same rule about one thing existing in another applies to the universe. The universe, we think, is everything. It cannot expand into nothing. It’s expa nding, but not into something. It’s just growing.

    The Bible said God created humans in his image. Perhaps this means God is the universe, and we are part of God, or rather, we are part of the universe, trying to figure itself out.

    I got a little off-topic there. Anyway, as I said, time is an illusion. There was nothing before it, except maybe another universe that expanded and then contracted again. There is nothing but the universe. Not even time.

    Yes, I’m insane.

  23. If we take time and define it as the 4th dimension, we should first note that dimensions are really only units of measurement. For example, length, depth, and height all provide us ways to measure the size and shape of an object. Time allows us to measure the physical change in an object such as its position and speed of movement.

    When thinking hypothetically, we can imagine reversing the movement of all the objects in our universe radiating out from a center point back to the center point and possibly even beyond. That terribly small center point would either be static (as a Singularity) or ever-collapsing. It may be either an ultimate zero or a long list of negatives if we were to graph its change. Regardless of which one you believe it might be, either static or ever collapsing, something would have to occur to change it from its static position or move it into a positive direction. We can call that occurrence a number of things. The most popular scientific explanation at this time calls it the Big Bang. However, the Big Bang is not an explanation of how everything began, only an explanation of how our universe may have begun.

    From the Big Bang we have begun to postulate multi-universes and attempted explanations of our universe and others through quantum dynamics. However, we are still left with the question of where did these universes additional to our own and the underlying structure of quantum dynamics originate.

    I believe the answer may lie in theorizing that there is another higher dimension above the established ten or so we know about. This dimension would be unbound by the concept of the First Cause, eternally existing and infinite in size, both static in its size (limitless) and dynamic in its internal workings. This dimension would therefore encompass all other dimensions and universes. It would not only include our own laws of electromagnetism, gravity, strong and weak forces, as well as quantum mechanics, but also all of the other laws that might fall within the framework of all the other possible universes.

    As we consider this, we would see that at least two things become clear. One, the term dimension is not descriptive because given the limitlessness of this grand realm, measurement becomes a moot point. I would therefore give it the name “plane” though that also does no better job in description but only acts as a term to distinguish it from “dimension.” Secondly, it unifies all other theories under one grand heading.

    Now, what would this plane look like? Well, since it would encompass the natural laws of our own universe, as well as the natural laws of all other possible universes, its structure would by definition be categorized as “super” natural. But, when I say supernatural, I am not speaking of fairies and leprechauns. What I mean is that there would be an overarching structure that would allow for the formation of all the possible universes. In relation to quantum mechanics specifically, we may have found a point of contact where the overarching plane touches our own physical reality. However, while many occurrences within the quantum realm appear to be random and spontaneous, there are agreed upon mechanisms at work such as the wave function. These mechanisms, as well as the mechanisms that exist outside of the quantum realm, in other universes perhaps, would still fall within our supernatural plane.

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