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One Big Bang, Or Many?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the boggles-the-mind dept.


butterwise writes "From the Guardian Unlimited: 'The universe is at least 986 billion years older than physicists thought and is probably much older still, according to a radical new theory. The revolutionary study suggests that time did not begin with the big bang 14 billion years ago. This mammoth explosion which created all the matter we see around us, was just the most recent of many.'"

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God is one kinky SOB (2, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272093)

Created the universe in one giant gang bang

** I hope I don't get smited for that

Re:God is one kinky SOB (5, Funny)

remembertomorrow (959064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272135)

In other news, pornography much older than originally thought.

Re:God is one kinky SOB (0, Redundant)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272136)

Of course you will.. Over and over again.. God will smite you in your face..

Re:God is one kinky SOB (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272389)


Re:God is one kinky SOB (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272202)

I hope I don't get smited for that

No problem. Just come along, if you like!


Re:God is one kinky SOB (4, Funny)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272333)

Created the universe in one giant gang bang

** I hope I don't get smited for that

For some reason, when I conjugate the verb word "smite" in that context, I get "smut".

(Yes, I know, it should be "smitten", but that's hardly humorous.)

Re:God is one kinky SOB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272369)

When the solution is simple, God is answering.

Albert Einstein.

Don't worry too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272429)

There have been several thousands of years without any shred of proof of his existence.

Whew! (4, Funny)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272103)

"All we can say is [the next big bang] won't be within the next 10 billion years." Good job, because if we were around we would instantly disintegrate into massless particles of light.

And you know how quickly that kind of thing can ruin your day!

-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (5, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272108)

From TFA (emphasis mine):
The standard big bang theory says the universe began with a massive explosion, but the new theory suggests it is a cyclic event that consists of repeating big bangs and big crunches - where every particle of matter collapses together.
And also from TFA (again, emphasis mine):
With each bang, the theory predicts that matter keeps on expanding and dissipating into infinite space before another horrendous blast of radiation and matter replenishes it.

Now, I'm no cosmologist, but these two descriptions of the theory seem to be in conflict...does the matter in the universe come together in the Big Crunch, or does it fly off into space forever, replenished by subsequent Big Bang events?

If the Guardian Unlimited doesn't even know what the theory is proposing, why are they reporting it?

Fortunately, we needn't depend upon Guardian Unlimited for our cosmology happens to have a much more informative article [] on the subject. What's especially amusing is that they've had this article since April 26th of 2002.

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (2, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272137)

I wondered the same thing. My question though, is if the universe expands infinitely, periodically replenished by another Big Bang, where does the matter/energy come from that creates the next Big Bang? If it were cyclic, and came into a Big Crunch, its somewhat understandable, though we still have to wonder about the conservation of energy that currently seems unexplained.

Better question... (4, Interesting)

harrkev (623093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272253)

And a better question. The universe is isotropic, which means that it looks the same everywhere (or so I am told). Thus there is no "center." Imagine the surface of the Earth. Where is the center of the surface (no digging allowed). There IS none.

Well, if this property holds true for the universe, and eventually our universe will expand a whole lot and lead to a new bang, exactly where in the known universe will this bang occur?

Or, perhaps there IS a center to the universe. If this is true, what would this do for relativity, which states that ALL frames of reference are valid? If you could just fly in a rocket and see a bit red cement pole with "center of universe" painted on it, that would make a dandy absolute reference point.

No center? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272301)

I guess that makes the question "how many licks does it take" sort of moot, huh?

Re:Better question... (2, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272431)

Well, if this property holds true for the universe, and eventually our universe will expand a whole lot and lead to a new bang, exactly where in the known universe will this bang occur?



Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (2, Interesting)

stecoop (759508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272272)

The big bang may not be as it seems. Sting Theory [] or M-Theory [] postulates that matter arrives by collisions of dimensions in other Universes. This is theory believes this is why gravity is so much weaker than the other forces. Extentions of these theories beleive, that matter entering this universe is traveling faster then light; the mater has to shed mass due to E=mc^2 stuff.

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272405)

where does the matter/energy come from that creates the next Big Bang?

Obviously, after it reaches the edge of the universe, it creeps back along the bottom to start from the center again.

Isn't the Universe accelerating in size? (1)

Svippy (876087) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272179)

Some years, I think they discovered that the Universe was accelerating in size, and thus could not get smaller. Which means that this theory cannot work, unless the acceleration takes off and goes negative. I think they call it the 2003 model.

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272271)

Apparently you haven't studied quantum mechanics. Because this is just quantum mechanics on a very large scale. See, until we actually measure it, it both expands and crunches. Then, because we measured it, it changes the result, so we still don't actually know anything. I suppose that's fitting becuase there are far more important topics we could be studying instead of pulling shit out of our ass.

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272342)

Well go and fucking study them then! Oh, you can't, because you don't know shit? Well, then keep quiet and maybe if you're lucky someone will find a use for you as a coat-rack or something.

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272457)

Um, getting shit out of my ass is a regular priority for me. Just sayin'.

I usually push it rather than pulling it. Not so messy.

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272367)

Yea this theory is pretty common and nothing new. Every theory has a "Big Bang", how that bang came to be, how many there were before it, and how many there will be in the future are the things that are still being figured out. The "Big Bang" is fact, there is no disputing that it happened, scientists are focused on the other questions now. I believe most of these theories are covered in Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe", buts its been a few years since I've read it. I remember it being a great introductory text to this topic though. Another interesting theory has to do with the dimensions, in particular time, actually circling in on itself at the "beginning" of the universe... therefore there is no beginning. Imagine a timeline, now wrap the line around on itself so it is connected like a donut, the timeline no longer has a beginning or end. Now imagine random branches of dough coming out of this donut, and from those branches, more branches, etc... These would be the parallel universes. Anyway, the topic is really interesting and there are some theories that have recently made a ton of progress. It is worth reading up on. If humans ever do figure out how to live forever, at least you'll know if there is an upper bound on forever ;)

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272370)

The Guardian really screwed up this article.

They don't even understand the Cosmological Constant. The Cosmological Constant was used to show a STATIC universe, not an EXPANDING universe. The reason Einstein INVENTED it, i.e., pulled it out of his ass, was his original models showed an expanding universe. He couldn't believe it was correct. So he invented this constant. Then Einstein met the astronomer, Hubble and Hubble showed him proof that the universe was indeed expanding! Never trust a mathematician, trust the guy with the data.

Then people starting using the constant in their models to show certain things. I think that's very shkey ground. Personally cosmologists are alot like string theorists - whackos!

Bottom line: SHOW ME THE DATA.

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (1)

Galston (895804) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272384)

Maybe this article dates to before the time of the last big bang.

Wrong... read more closely (2, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272385)

Well, the difference in explanations is obvious. In the first case (big bang, big crunch, rinse and repeat) they are referring to the standard big bang theory. The new theory (as far as TFA says) doesn't involve a crunch, just another big bang after the current matter in the universe dissipates.

How that part works out would be an interesting read. One aspect of the duality that binds the various aspects of M-Theory is that for certain branches of the theory, what is true at one geometric scale n is true in the opposing theory at the scale 1/n. Perhaps they are using relationship to argue that complete dissipation in one perspective constitutes absolute concentration (i.e. a big crunch) from a different perspective.

Beats me, I'm 15 years removed from my undergraduate physics courses, and I jumped ship on physics just before string theory started revving up big-time in the early 1990's.

Re:-1 for self-contradiction, -1 for lateness (4, Interesting)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272444)

Well, brane theory (a.k.a. string theory) is kind of funky. It posits that there are parallel universes (branes) that are tied to each other in different dimensions. There was an explosion that forced the branes apart, although they are still tied together through another dimension. As the branes (universes) spread themselves out, the force connecting them get weaker. Each brane starts to die entropically. (All the higher energy states have been taken and only chaos can exist; no ordered states are possible). At some point, the force from the initial explosion is not enough to overcome the "force" exerted by the bridging dimension to keep the branes apart. The branes then collide with each other again. There is another big bang caused by this collision.

Dimensions are weird things. Imagine a two-dimensional plane that goes on infinitely. For a finite, two-dimensional being on that plane, there can only be two-dimensions. As far as he can see, his Universe is the only one. But there can be a million other dimensions stacked onto his in the third dimension. He is just one page on the book, but he cannot observe that third plane. Brane theory observes that just because X dimensions exist, that does not mean we experience all of them.

Think about time as the fourth dimension. Basically, a n-dimension allows you to add an infinite amount of things on the same place in a (n-1)-dimension world. In a two-dimensional world, you can stack many lines onto each other in the second dimension along the plane. A two-dimension sheet can be stacked infinitely in the third-dimension, so many objects can share the same two-dimensional space along the third-dimension. Many objects can exist at the same three-dimension coordinates but at different times.

What if there are more than one time-dimensions? Or more than three-spatial dimensions? Is there any postulate that says we can observe them all if they exist? That's kind of the battle because there can be no direct "proof" of any other dimensions, if they exist. Yet the other dimensions can still affect our dimension. That's why cosmology seems to be so made: because it is.

Taking Numbers at Face Value (5, Funny)

Stranger4U (153613) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272113)

" least 986 billion years older ..."

I always found it amusing when people take scientific estimates at face value. The article says something along the lines of "the universe could be up to a trillion years old," so, obviously, the universe is precisely 1 trillion years old.

Re:Taking Numbers at Face Value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272347)

so, obviously, the universe is precisely 1 trillion years old.

So how old is it in my timezone?

Re:Taking Numbers at Face Value (4, Funny)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272368)

Reminds me of the story about the museum curator who was leaning on the second floor railing looking down at the T-Rex display, one of his personal favorites. A small family group were in front of the display, looking up in awe, and the kid asked his parents how old it was. The janitor, who had been listening nearby, sauntered over and said "I happen to know that that there skeleton is sixty five million and thirteen years old." The curator cracked up as the janitor continued, "Yup, I been workin' here thirteen years now and the curator himself told me on the day I started that it was sixty five million years old."

Re:Taking Numbers at Face Value (1)

mfarah (231411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272371)

... one trillion years AND AN HOUR years old.

Mind you, this article was posted an hour ago.

How is the Revolutionary? (2, Informative)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272114)

...or even news? The Big Crunch theory [] has been around for a long time.

Re:How is the Revolutionary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272437)

Exactly what I was thinking!!!! I was worried I was actually a brilliant Einstein-esque physicist who'd already figured this out himself a long time ago and just forgot to tell anyone, and now someone's going to beat me to a Nobel prize. Good to know I'm back to just being an average schmo.

So do I get my AARP card that much sooner? (1, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272115)

I can leapfrog the next 7 years of angst I was planning for this event.

NEW theory? (1)

Sascha J. (803853) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272122)

This is a new theory? I read about that theory in a space documentary book when I was 9 (ten years ago).

Re:NEW theory? (1)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272144)

its WAY older than that...theres nothing new about it, at all.
not to mention recent evidence suggests there will be no big crunch and re-bang...just a slowly fading out to entropy.

A more comforting theory (4, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272129)

I've read similar things, where the cosmological constant changes over time, first expanding and then contracting the universe. In some ways it's more satisfying than having the universe as a one-shot deal that ends in cold nothingness.

It did trigger the beginnings of an idea for a science fiction novel. What if the current state of the universe was the result of tinkering from the previous big bang cycle? If you end up with constants that make life more difficult, blame those that came before. Sort of like global warming on a multi-universal scale.

Re:A more comforting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272245)

Try reading Frederick Pohl's Heechee series (starting with the novel Gateway, but not really becaming relevant to your post for a few books).

It's a good read regardless.

Re:A more comforting theory (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272318)

At the risk of being a bit of a spoiler about the Heechee saga, it contains an alien race of energy beings that dominated during the beginning of the universe, before the universe became matter-dominated. They're manipulating the crunch of this universe and waiting for the crunch to create a universe on the next iteration that will be more conducive to their kind of existence.

Re:A more comforting theory (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272332)

I'm sorry to tell you your scifi book has already been written by at least a two different authors I can think of.

This isn't very surprising (2, Interesting)

masterpenguin (878744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272134)

I'm not very surprised that scientists are describing the universe as much older than previously thought. One of the fundimental problems of the big bang theroy was when incorperating the size of the universe it would have ment that it expanded much faster than the speed of light. (or at least this is my understanding of the big bang theory)

Re:This isn't very surprising (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272234)

That isn't a problem with the theory, though. Nor is that point addressed with this new theory, as far as I can see. The only question is "How large the universe compared with how long it's been since the last Big Bang?" You still need inflation ( to make the universe get to the correct size.

Re:This isn't very surprising (2, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272243)

Actually, this wouldn't make a difference. The idea stated here is that the universe has either (a) expanded and contracted many times or (b) expanded to nothingness and been replenished by a new big bang many times. (The article isn't clear on which.)

While this suggests the existence of a pre-Big-Bang universe, it does not suggest that the latest Big Bang took place any earlier than current estimates used for hte single-Big Bang theory.

So if there are problems with the speed of expansion post-Big Bang, this does nothing to solve them.

It has been foretold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272139)

So sayeth the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

So... (4, Funny)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272146)

So...This is all just deja vu all over again?

Re:So... (2)

enitime (964946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272292)

(Score:2 Redundant)

Now -that's- funny.

I no want relationship (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272147)

I just want BANG BANG BANG!

Re:I no want relationship (1)

de Siem (840522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272185)

Who would have thought Ricky Martin reads /.!

Utter example of handwaving (3, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272161)

Fascinating? Yes.
Mind-boggling? Yes.
Good story to impress your wife or kids? Yes.

Scientific? No.

very old news (2, Interesting)

denisbergeron (197036) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272162)

very old universe ! :-)
Any way you can find in a lot of places informations about a lot of Galaxies that have been classified older than the big bang (15 billons years) !
The french magazine "Science et Vie" have some goods articles on the subject this mounth release.

This question also helps sort out /. readers (1)

xmark (177899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272164)

Unfortunately, even Single Big Bang might not apply to the worst cases, where the best-fit theory is probably Eternal Stasis. :-)

Re:This question also helps sort out /. readers (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272329)

If there is one Big Bang and infinite expansion with no Big Crunch, then we live in an Eternal Stasis universe; we're just in the infinitesimal blip before the stasis sets in.

One Big Bang, Or Many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272175)

I think "One Big Bang" is out of the question for most of the /. crowd. Therefore voting will indicate that one is the primary choice since many will be unobtainable.

Never know! (5, Funny)

git68 (957160) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272182)

Vista might be released before the next big bang.

what? (-1)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272186)

They're just NOW getting around to this line of thought? Please tell me the majority of academia is not that glaringly stupid. So they suddenly now believe it more likely that the universe doesn't have a single beginning or end, but is cyclical in nature?
I've been screaming this for nearly a decade. The idea that it all started with a single "big bang" is preposterous. Nothing in nature has a true beginning and end, everything is part of a larger cycle. It's only common sense that if there were one "bang" there were probably more before it.

I'm thinking, that probably blackholes create these bangs. After they attain a certain threshold of mass, as in several super-blackholes combine, they explode again. But then, I'm not an astro-physicist and have no data to back this up.

Re:what? (4, Insightful)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272247)

I'm not an astro-physicist and have no data to back this up.

Then why, pray tell, did you bother to enlighten us with your "theories?"

Common sense told Aristotle that objects fall because they are trying to return to a natural state of rest. Common sense and intuition are ridiculously bad tools for scientific inquiry. Esthetically-pleasing deductions with no empirical evidence are even worse.

Re:what? (1)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272453)

"Hypothesis" actually. Until someone gathers some data to back it up. Which they may have, I just haven't bothered to look into it lately.

It almost sounds like you're saying that no one other than a scientist is allowed to posture about science. I guess we should all just accept whichever most common theory is spoonfed to us and not use our own intellect at all. They must be completely right, it's not like major scientific theories aren't re-written all the time or anything.
I'm not writing journal papers or teaching classes, so I'm allowed to form my own opinions and hypotheses about the way the universe works if I choose. And I'm free to share those ideas with others, even at the expense of being berated by people like you.

Re:what? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272363)

Considering that the universe shows every signs of expanding forever (based on observations), it's not hard to see why the idea of a cyclic universe was not considered a serious contender. In fact, it's difficult to see why it should be now.

But who needs data?

Hindu Cosmology (5, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272195)

Strange how this coincides with the theory of "Cosmic cycles" in Hinduism and other Vedic religions [] like Buddhism [ttp]

In short, Hindu scriptures accept the Big Bang (and for that matter Evolution), but believe that it is cyclical in nature. Destruction follows creation, to be followed by creation again. Similarly, "devolution" follows evolution, in a cycle to be repeated endlessly.

While there are many links to back this up, here's the most relevant one I found on Hindu Cosmology [] (I'm not affiliated to it in any way, just happened to be one of the first sites that came up on a Google search). Among other prominent people, it also carries this quote from Carl Sagan [] 's description of Hindu cosmology in his book Cosmos. To quote:

The late scientist, Carl Sagan, in his book, Cosmos asserts that the Dance of Nataraja (Tandava) signifies the cycle of evolution and destruction of the cosmic universe (Big Bang Theory).

"It is the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of." Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but also the very essence of inorganic matter.

For modern physicists, then, Shiva's dance is the dance of subatomic matter. Hundreds of years ago, Indian artist created visual images of dancing Shiva's in a beautiful series of bronzes. Today, physicist have used the most advanced technology to portray the pattern of the cosmic dance. Thus, the metaphor of the cosmic dance unifies, ancient religious art and modern physics. The Hindus, according to Monier-Williams, were Spinozists more than 2,000 years before the advent of Spinoza, and Darwinians many centuries before Darwin and Evolutionists many centuries before the doctrine of Evolution was accepted by scientists of the present age.

"The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang. And there are much longer time scales still."

"The most elegant and sublime of these is a representation of the creation of the universe at the beginning of each cosmic cycle, a motif known as the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva. The god, called in this manifestation Nataraja, the Dance King. In the upper right hand is a drum whose sound is the sound of creation. In the upper left hand is a tongue of flame, a reminder that the universe, now newly created, with billions of years from now will be utterly destroyed."

Re:Hindu Cosmology (3, Insightful)

KefabiMe (730997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272302)

Strange how this coincides with the theory of "Cosmic cycles" in Hinduism and other Vedic religions like Buddhism

It's not strange at all. With many different religions and each religion having many different sects, how scientists describe how our universe works will seem similar to some religion somewhere.

If you think about it, religion is one way for people to describe what is happening in the world around them.

Personally, I say keep your faith and your science seperate.

Re:Hindu Cosmology (1)

mamer-retrogamer (556651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272383)

You forgot to add <Sagan monotone voice></Sagan monotone voice>

Big Bang Created ??? (1)

jag7720 (685739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272196)

This mammoth explosion which created all the matter we see around us, was just the most recent of many.
These statement are non-sense and contadictory... How does the big bang create matter? What created the big bang or any of these "Big Bangs"... Please

No they're not (3, Interesting)

GuloGulo2 (972355) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272257)

From wiki

"The early universe was filled homogeneously and isotropically with an incredibly high energy density and concomitantly huge temperatures and pressures. It expanded and cooled, going through phase transitions analogous to the condensation of steam or freezing of water as it cools, but related to elementary particles.

Approximately 10-35 seconds after the Planck epoch a phase transition caused the universe to experience exponential growth during a period called cosmic inflation. After inflation stopped, the material components of the universe were in the form of a quark-gluon plasma (also including all other particles--and perhaps experimentally produced recently as a quark-gluon liquid [3]) in which the constituent particles were all moving relativistically. As the universe continued growing in size, the temperature dropped. At a certain temperature, by an as-yet-unknown transition called baryogenesis, the quarks and gluons combined into baryons such as protons and neutrons, somehow producing the observed asymmetry between matter and antimatter. Still lower temperatures led to further symmetry breaking phase transitions that put the forces of physics and elementary particles into their present form. Later, some protons and neutrons combined to form the universe's deuterium and helium nuclei in a process called Big Bang nucleosynthesis. As the universe cooled, matter gradually stopped moving relativistically and its rest mass energy density came to gravitationally dominate that of radiation. After about 300,000 years the electrons and nuclei combined into atoms (mostly hydrogen); hence the radiation decoupled from matter and continued through space largely unimpeded. This relic radiation is the cosmic microwave background."

It was energy first.

Re:Big Bang Created ??? (1)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272278)

Don't think of it as creating matter so much as freeing matter.
Think about a black hole, or super-massive blackhole. Where does all the matter go that it sucks in? Probably not some other dimension. It's probably being packed together in an ever increasing mass. After so much comes together, there's probably a breaking point that releases it.
Conjecture of course, but it goes toward explaining your question. And it's the explaination that makes the most sense to me. No matter is truly created or destroyed, and it would explain where the "bangs" come from.

Time had a beginning? (1)

Somatic (888514) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272197)

This is the part that I never understood about Big Bang theory, or theories that say the universe is limited in size:

Time couldn't have had a beginning, by its very nature. So of course there was stuff happening before the Big Bang... a chain of Big Bangs is what I always assumed happened, or if not that, at least something.

But I'm not a physicist, or a scientist, so what do I know. Maybe time is limited, it did start there, and I've been thinking about it all wrong.

Space, on the other hand, is explained with all sorts of strange geometric diagrams that I don't even pretend to understand, so I won't touch that. But I'll never wrap my head around the idea of time having a beginning.

Re:Time had a beginning? (1)

Vyvyan Basterd (972007) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272265)

There was no time before the big bang. When you have a singular, you have no spacetime. So talking about what was before the big bang is nonsensical.

Yet... (2, Interesting)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272287)

You CAN wrap your mind around time NOT having a beginning?

Neither a finite nor infinite universe are really within the ability of human comprehension as evidenced by the fact that every scientific, philosophical and religious argument out there basically boils down to "everything that exists was created by, erm, uhm, uh, this other thing...and this other thing... and oh, damn it, it just is, okay?"

Re:Yet... (2, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272426)

You CAN wrap your mind around time NOT having a beginning?

This is exactly the dilemma. You can't imagine absolutely nothing, but there's no reasonable explanation for existence either.

Re:Time had a beginning? (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272338)

You need to think carefully about a few words. Like "time" and "beginning". "What came before the big bang" is a lot like asking what is north of 90 degrees lattitude on the earth.

Think of the graphs y = ln( x), y = x, and y = exp( x). To change from one to the next, you transform x into ln( x). In other words, measure time with a different clock. In the third case, y has a finite minimum value: 0. In the first and second cases, it doesn't.

The universe can also be finite (i.e. having a measurable size) but unbounded (not having any "edges"). How long is a circle?

Re:Time had a beginning? (1)

chepner (146799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272425)

How long is a circle?

Diameter times pi?

Re:Time had a beginning? (1)

toomz (175524) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272374)

Time, being relative, didn't really begin until something experienced it.

That being said. scientists guess about the effects of time on things which couldn't report on that experience themselves, so for them time effectively began when there was nothing around which still exists in the universe today.

Re:Time had a beginning? (5, Interesting)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272378)

Time couldn't have had a beginning, by its very nature. So of course there was stuff happening before the Big Bang... a chain of Big Bangs is what I always assumed happened, or if not that, at least something.

It works something like this: according to relativity, space and time are really linked together as 4 dimensional spacetime. Just as 2- and 3-dimensional objects can have shape, so can 4-dimensional objects like spacetime. When physicists try and get some idea of the shape of spacetime they find that it "narrows to a point in the time direction" - the big bang.

Perhaps an analogy is the best way to think about it. A sphere is a two dimensional surface in a particular shape - at any point of the surface of the sphere you can parameterise direction in terms of 2 perpendicular base vectors. We do exactly that with directions about the surface of the earth (though we call "negative east" west, and "negative north" south), so if you like you can think of north and east as the dimensions/directions on the surface of the earth. If you keep heading north, however, you find that the sphere narrows to a point in that directions - the north pole. You can't really talk about what is north of the north pole - the question doesn't really make sense. Of course you can only really see that by stepping outside and observing the 2-dimensional surface of the earth as it is embedded into 3-dimensional space; if we look at things in terms of a more easy to picture map projection into 2-dimensions (just as the surface is 2-dimensional) you might think "can't we just keep going up? Surely there's more north?"

In practice spacetime works roughly the same way except the "surface" is 4-dimensional instead of 2-dimensional. The key point is that heading back in the time direction is just like heading in the north direction of the sphere - eventually you reach a point, like the north pole, where "before" or "further back in time" doesn't make sense, in just the same way that "further north of the north pole" doesn't make sense. From our perspective inside spacetime that's harder to imagine, similar to the way the map projection tends to skew your thinking. It is made worse by the fact that we usually tend to think of time as something very separate to space rather than just another direction. The concept of time beginning with the big bang does make sense, it just requires you to break out of the standard intuitions about how space and time fit together.


freaky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272200)

freaky. as a recovering hindu, all i can think is either "maybe these scientists read the vedas".
it's freaky sometimes when a religions answers, made up thousands of years ago match recent scientific discoveries. []

course the numbers are hugely different :)
but the idea of constant and cyclic universe w/ recurring big bangs matches.


...Or none? (1)

silicon not in the v (669585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272203)

There's always that possibility.

Very Old theory (4, Insightful)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272207)

Scientists and Philosophers have been waving this theory around for at least 30 years. The problem in the past has always been that even though they really, really wanted this theory to be true, they didn't have any good evidence for it. As far as I can tell from TFA, that is still the case.

Re:Very Old theory (1)

MxTxL (307166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272430)

The way Hawkings thinks about this (at least what I remember/understand from one of his books) is that it doesn't really matter. This article seems to be placing the beginning of time before the big bang and each bang/crush cycle just gets tacked on to the previous timeline. According to hawkings, time had to begin with the big bang. The compressed ball of matter had such a gravitational pull that time and space were bent and broke and stopped and no information could escape. Even if the cycle had happened a trillion times before it wouldn't matter because the first point were information could become available was the current bang. Thats when time for anyone in this universe began and bang/crunch cycles are irrelevant, there may as well have been nothing before the bang.

986 billion exactly? (5, Insightful)

packeteer (566398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272216)

It sounds to me like someone guessed the number 1 trillion (1,000 billion) as the age of the universe and now its being quoted as fact. You cant say the universe is 986 billion years older then previously thought becuase it makes people think your using an exact science becuase you are using exact numbers. This is sensationalist science at its worst.

Whether or not the theory will hold up in the future nobody knows but as for right now everyone needs to remember this is a theory like any and decieving people into thinking its otherwise is unfair.

Re:986 billion exactly? (2, Funny)

eaddict (148006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272276)

No... it is really 42 billion years old. THAT would have been the number I would have liked to see.

Re:986 billion exactly? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272339)

I agree, this current estimate is 70 times further off than the first estimate.

It's no wonder people buy into Intellegent Design (5, Interesting)

dorbabil (969458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272218)

Sorry to be off-topic, but articles like this throw around the word theory like every new hypothesis that's met with even a shred of success deserves to be called a theory. It's no wonder that so many people out there fail to realise that "It's just a theory, there's no proof" is a complete contradiction. I'm favoring, more and more, a redefinition of the terms used in biological science to match those in the physical sciences. Start calling hypotheses theories, and drop the whole "Theory" label from the theory of evolution. Teach it as a combination of evidence-driven research, and base principles (Natural Selection becomes "Darwin's Laws", Mendellian Inheritence becomes "Mendel's Laws", and so forth). Getting rid of the vague "theory" description will make it much easier to convey which parts of the modern theory of evolution should be considered fact, and which parts are still active areas of research.

Re:It's no wonder people buy into Intellegent Desi (1)

Vyvyan Basterd (972007) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272373)

People buy into religious nonsense because it's simplistic, not because the media are hasty to report new hypotheses. The argument is something like

  • I don't understand X
  • Therefore god must have done it

Basically, it's a quick way to get out of thinking and go back to watching nascar.

Giant Recycling Machine (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272224)

To me the universe seems to act as a giant recycling system, everything within it gets reused over and over creating what we see around us as the systems evolve, evidence of it exists all around us on this planet so it makes sense that it would be the same out there in other areas of our universe.

It's the Matrix (1)

buxrule (970805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272256)

So basically, we're living in a computer. Where entropy is constantly increasing causing trash bits to be scattered throughout until everything is just so disorganized that the system freezes. And then someone pushes the reset button.

God should learn to defrag.

This is based on untested String Theory (1)

magicjava (952331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272281)

Just a word of warning. These claims about the universe are based on String theory. There are zero experiments that back up String theory. None. Zip. Nadda.

Begininglessness (1)

fragamus (539219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272288)

The idea that the universe can be beginningless is astonishing. It hurts my brain. But there seem to be only two alternatives: either it is beginingless or it has a beginning. Maybe it was the FSM.

Re:Begininglessness (1)

enitime (964946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272416)

You think it's LESS astonishing if the universe did have a beginning and therefore was preceded by an incomprehensible nothingness? And not nothingness as in being empty, but being completely devoid of space and time. At the very least that's equally mind-boggling.

Hawking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272293)

I think it was Hawking who proposed this well over 10 years ago before he realized it was impossible. Am I missing something or is this same bang to crunch to bang to crunch... theory. In any case it seems to clearly violate the second law of quantum mechanics. Forgive me for being skeptical.

Second Law of Thermodynamics (1)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272337)

I think you mean the Second Law of Thermodynamics [] . For those who don't link to click links, that bascially says that the amount of usable energy in the universe is always decreasing, meaning that you can't have a perpetual motion machine (or a perpetual motion universe).

Just a thought (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272306)

Assuming that:

1)The universe is cyclical in which all matter collapses to a single point and the big bang repeats an infinite number of times.

2)That when we die we have no perception of time.


Would it not stand to reason that we would experience everything in the universe moving from one existence to the next with no delay in the relative sense?

Wow! This precisely cooincides with... (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272317)

...the Duke Nuke'em release cycle!

I'm flabbergasted!

Metaphysics (2, Interesting)

PineHall (206441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272327)

Unfortunately, (as we currently understand things) we can not discover what existed before the big bang. This theory is only philosphical convecture that is not falsifiable.

The big bang theory is shady (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272331)

Honestly, I've always thought basing everything on the assumption of some sort of start to time was foolish. This theory is the one that scientists have floated a couple of times before called Oscillating Universe.

I personally think both theories are far too limited in scope to describe the universe, but with only a BS in Astronomy, who among you would listen to my babblings?

Close enough (1)

Brown Eggs (650559) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272335)

What's 986 billion years between friends? Sounds like they were in the ballpark already. Any more sarcasm and I think my head will explode.

Detonating Heffalumps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272351)

This mammoth explosion...
At least now we know why mammoths are extinct. ;P

Shades of Babylon 5 (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272376)

From TFA: With each bang, the theory predicts that matter keeps on expanding and dissipating into infinite space before another horrendous blast of radiation and matter replenishes it.

Shades of Babylon 5 there. From one of the Season 4 episodes, Into the Fire (I couldn't find the exact quotes online from work, this is my idea of what happened):

And at the end of the war, all of the remaining First Ones went Beyond the Rim, and were never heard from again.

Disproved Long Time Ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272400)

This is an old idea that was proven wrong long time ago. The original theory stated that there were multiple Big Bangs due to slowing expansion, and then gravity pulling everything back together, and then causing another Big Bang.
This sounds all well and good but it was proven wrong when scientists found out the speed of galaxies moving apart actually increases as distance increases. The conclusion of this was that we will die all alone in an infinitely sized universe fully of entropy.

Pathetic scientists grasping for answers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15272403)

God created the universe.

Re:Pathetic scientists grasping for answers (1)

fragamus (539219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272436)

Dear God, please send me some mod points please oh please oh please.

Light recently slowed down (1)

yooman (309883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272432)

I did a search with google and found Some scientists believe the bible still. Light could have been much faster in the beginning account for the so called light years between us and the stars. Light would have recently , thousands of years ago, turned to its current slower state of 186,000 miles/sec.

If Tufts university can (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272438)

can magically relocate to Maryland, all natural laws are suspect, and the so-called "constants", including the cosmological constant, aren't.

In other, related news, the big bang was not unique and the universe is at least a trillion years old. If you think Katrina was too much for FEMA, wait until the next big bang!

Galactus? (1)

The G (7787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15272446)

This was all caused by Galactus [] , right? I think I read that somewhere...
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