Many years ago, I knew a football fan who would watch the Denver Broncos every Sunday. His girlfriend would always bug him by asking “Instead of watching the Broncos, why don’t we go to the museum?” or “Instead of watching the Broncos, why don’t we go for a picnic in the park?” Then one day his beloved Broncos were playing the dreaded Raiders to go to the fricking Super Bowl and his girlfriend came over and quite insistently asked “Instead of watching the Broncos, why don’t we go for a ride in the mountains?” Mr. Bronco had had enough, so he grabbed said GF by the scruff of the neck and threw her into the backyard screaming “There’s more to life than not watching a Bronco game!!!”
In those simple words, Mr. Bronco captured the essence of cosmology as both cosmology and philosophical musings about “there being more to life than not watching the Broncos” appear to be profoundly deep, but are really just random speculations about nothing in particular. (Seinfeldian Profundities as they are called here at NAA.)
So in the spirit of backyard exits, NAA wishes to address the topic “Is there more to science than not knowing what happened before the big bang.”
There are at least eight possible answers to what happened before the BIG BANG. Here is the Wizard’s list:
THE STANDARD MODEL EXPLANATION
The standard model says that space time in our universe started about 13.7 billion years ago. That means that TIME started about 13.7 billion years ago. To ask what happened before time began is a meaningless question the SM people would argue. There wasn’t anything we could understand until there was a beginning. Before there was time, nothing could or did exist.
Below you can watch a BBC video on this topic (which goes way beyond the Standard Model.)
THE UNIVERSE CAME FROM NOTHING
There are a number of people that believe this and they can make a strong case. We know that a void in space can be empty one moment and then through quantum fluctuations can contain a particle a second later. This ability of nothing to split into parts, I believe, is very consistent with the universe as we know it. Thus, who is to say that the universe does not contain matter and anti-matter in equal parts and that we are just seeing our half of nothingness. Or that the universe is made up of negative energy in the form of gravity, offset by an exact equal amount of positive matter. Heck even dark matter and dark energy may just be balancing items in the great “adds to nothing” game.
Below see a video about this topic that makes the case for something from nothing.
NOTE: There was a very controversial book that challenged the standard model on many fronts called Our Undiscovered Universe by Terence Witt. Needless to say, this theory called NULL PHYSICS is at the fringe of science, BUT the idea that something could come from nothing is very much in play. I can recommend this book if you simply like to think about Cosmology in a challenging way.
GOD CAME BEFORE THE BIG BANG
There are many people … perhaps most of humankind, that believes in God. In the view of these people, God created the universe and perhaps started it off with a BIG BANG. This is certainly a possibility. This is not science per se, but the idea that creation was created by a creator has been with us for a very long time.
WE ARE JUST ONE SLICE OF A LARGER MULTIVERSE
Ok string theory and other branches of physics strongly suggest that there are multiple universes. If this is so, then there is a cosmic scale beyond what we can see and it contains many universes with different laws and different physical models. Obviously we cannot prove this as you cannot observe what you cannot see, BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean that some entity on a vastly larger scale doesn’t exist. I believe the evidence for a multiverse is quite strong.
BLACK HOLES CREATE BIG BANGS
Obviously, once an event horizon forms around a Black Hole even light cannot escape (hence the term black hole). Nobody really knows what happens to these colossal objects as they just get bigger and bigger with every bit of matter they swallow. Perhaps one man’s Black Hole is another man’s Big Bang (in a new universe.) Again this is difficult to prove but very plausible
THE INFINITELY BIG BECOMES INFINITELY SMALL THEORY
Ok we know that the universe is expanding. Roger Penrose and others have speculated that you can only figure out what came before the Big Bang by looking at how our universe will end. They point out that constant expansion will mean that matter and time will eventually cease to exist as entropy increases to some maximum limit. At that point, there will be nothing but photons and perhaps the infinitely large explodes into a new universe that appears to start out infinitely small. That would make the universe one of a steady stream of rebirths and annihilations. Not Bad.
THE VIRTUAL REALITY MODEL
As has been discussed in previous posts, it seems entirely possible that man could someday have enough computing power to create virtual reality worlds as detailed as Earth’s. Using time compression in VR might allow this to happen quite rapidly once VR begins to appear. So if we will someday soon (say 10,000 years or less) be able to create a world and populate it with people that can “live, love and die,” who is to say that such a world has not already been created and that we are now living in it.
SO WHAT DOES THE WIZARD THINK?
Many of these models are very appealing. The Black Hole speculation seems very plausible, as does the series of endless expansions and explosions. Even the VR model has some appeal. However, of all the models, I think I am most in agreement with the Something from Nothing theory. It would only take the slightest perturbation of nothing for a vast universe of opposite mass and energy to appear. As long as the sum of all energy and mass (converted at E=MC2) equals zero, then the overall state of nothingness could well exist. I must admit that the Standard Model claim that “before there was time there could be nothing” is the most widely accepted however. This simply challenges the meaning of nothing (which we will see in the next section is easy to do.)
I think we can say that “watching a bronco game is better than nothing.” I think we can also say that “nothing is better than explaining what happened before the big bang.” This leads us to the logical conclusion that “watching a bronco game is better than explaining what happened before the big bang.” See how the Wizard cleverly switched the definition of nothing. The secret of cosmology has been revealed.