Before the Big Bang?

by Fraser Cain on July 2, 2007

Illustration of an oscillating and then inflating universe in phase space. Source: (Nature 436 (2005) 920-921)The scientific consensus is that the Universe is expanding, having gotten its start in a single point 13.7 billion years ago. There are several lines of evidence to support this theory: the movement of galaxies away from us, the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the quantities of hydrogen and helium in the Universe.

But what came before the Big Bang? Since all matter and energy was tangled up into a single point of infinite volume and density, it’s hard to imagine how you could look to a time before that.

Cosmologist Martin Bojowald and others from Penn State University thinks it’s possible. His ideas are published in a new paper as part of the July 1st edition of the journal Nature Physics.

According to Bojowald, a mathematical technique called Loop Quantum Gravity, which combines relativity and quantum mechanics, gives a different view of the early Universe. Instead of being infinitely small and dense, it was compacted down into a ball of some volume and density.

The researchers believes that a previous Universe collapsed down to a tiny ball, and then had a Big Bounce to expand again. The previous Universe was very similar to the space-time geometry we have in our current Universe.

I’d try and explain this better, but Phil beat me to the punch and did a great article about it.

Original Source : Penn State University


Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

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