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Joshua Brown

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« on: 09/05/2008 13:57:42 »
Joshua Brown asked the Naked Scientists:

Hello

I have a question I can't get my head around.

If the galaxy and all that exists was created by the big bang, then what created the big bang? Surely there was nothing in existence before the big bang took place, and nothing in existence for the big bang to take place in the first place, simply because nothing existed.

So how then did it take place if there was nothing before it? What was existence before the big bang?

What I'm getting at, basically, is how did something come from nothing? (maybe I don't understand the concept correctly?)


What do you think?


 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #1 on: 09/05/2008 14:18:32 »
I think its impossible to imagine absolute nothingness, but there's either gonna be something or nothing and here we are thinking about it
 

Offline LeeE

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #2 on: 09/05/2008 16:31:31 »
One way to think about it is to say that before the BB there was a single value of a single type but at the BB this was split into many values of many types.

It's a bit abstract but all our notions and concepts of existance require a post-BB environment to be expressed.
 

blakestyger

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #3 on: 12/05/2008 20:58:46 »
I think it's correct to say that the total energy of the universe is zero - so it would be zero before the Big Bang too.
So it's just zero in another form.
Next stop, Stockholm.
 

Offline JP

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #4 on: 12/05/2008 22:25:20 »
This is one of those questions that science can't answer.  Scientists can only really speculate on things they can test with experiments, and there's no way to test what was going on before the big bang.  Why?  As LeeE said, our concepts and tools require a post-BB universe.
 

Offline neilep

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #5 on: 12/05/2008 22:40:39 »
Before the Big Bang was a load of commercials !!...which then followed with the announcement " And now the main feature"
 

Offline TheHerbaholic

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #6 on: 13/05/2008 07:26:13 »
Before the big bang there was stuff, matter or whatever... Why couldn't there have been "stuff" here forever and ever??? Something didn't HAVE to start everything. It could of just always been there...
 

Offline lightarrow

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #7 on: 13/05/2008 07:50:05 »
 "What existed before the Big Bang?"

Time was created with th Big Bang, so "before" it is meaningless.
 

Offline TheHerbaholic

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #8 on: 13/05/2008 08:33:17 »
Time is something humans use to know the time of a moment. But before the big bang, in the vast of nothingness, their must of have still been moments, but with just nothing in them. Like if you have air but with no solid objects in them. Or just like space as it is with no air and pure nothingness, that space would have just been all around... Doesn't time still apply in space??? So why wouldn't it before the big bang if it was just space?
 

Offline TheGOAT

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #9 on: 13/05/2008 11:03:21 »
Ok guys, iv registered, its me Josh Brown, the creator of this question. lol
If you say that before the big bang was just massive amounts of energy, or that time is meaningless before it (this doesnt answer my question, meaningless or not it was still in existence, energy, time whatever you want to call it, it still existed so it had to have come from somewhere, things dont just appear out of thin "air") or whatever your explanation is, explain to me how any of what your saying came into being in the first place, thats what im trying to get at.
The Big Bang or Big Splat as im lead to believe its called these days (or something there abouts) is just a reference to the very first instance "known", so im wondering how anything came into existence before that, if that was the very thing that created existence, or if this didnt create existence then how did whatever before that come into existence in order for the event which was the big bang to occur?
For example if you say that massive amounts of energy existed before, then how did those massive amounts of energy come into existence in order for this "singularity" to take place.
If you say that it was just a vast emptiness with no time or matter or anything, then how did that vast space come into existence in the first place?


Thanks
 

Offline lightarrow

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #10 on: 13/05/2008 11:34:41 »
Time is something humans use to know the time of a moment. But before the big bang, in the vast of nothingness, their must of have still been moments, but with just nothing in them. Like if you have air but with no solid objects in them. Or just like space as it is with no air and pure nothingness, that space would have just been all around... Doesn't time still apply in space??? So why wouldn't it before the big bang if it was just space?

Big Bang created spacetime so you didn't have space nor time "before" it.
 

lyner

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #11 on: 13/05/2008 11:38:01 »
Quote
meaningless or not it was still in existence, energy, time whatever you want to call it, it still existed so it had to have come from somewhere,
Not strictly true. If  you have a football and someone asked which part of the surface of the football contains the goalie's nose, you would say that the question has no meaning. The surface of the ball just consists of things on the surface. The goalie's nose is not part of the ball's surface. All that the surface consists of is s set of patches, sewn together and there is no 'edge'.
In a similar way, our Universe (our space / time) doesn't have to contain 'everything'.
The word 'before' implies a measurement IN our space/time and one boundary to our space/time is the big bang. Beyond the big bang can have a meaning all right but it can't necessarily be described in terms like 'where' and 'when' which we use for stuff  which is definitely in our space/time. When you say it must have 'existed' you  are using  the past tense implying time - implying it is 'inside' not 'outside' our space/time.
You are trying to insist that the goalies nose (and the whole stadium) must be part of the football's surface.
There are some things which cannot be discussed meaningfully using familiar ideas alone.
 

Offline lightarrow

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #12 on: 13/05/2008 11:39:31 »
Ok guys, iv registered, its me Josh Brown, the creator of this question. lol
If you say that before the big bang was just massive amounts of energy, or that time is meaningless before it (this doesnt answer my question, meaningless or not it was still in existence, energy, time whatever you want to call it, it still existed so it had to have come from somewhere, things dont just appear out of thin "air")

Can you prove it? If you have space you can have matter or none of it (void) but you have space. If time exist, you can have events or no events, but you still have time. You can't have any of that, if space and time don't exist.
 

Offline TheHerbaholic

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #13 on: 14/05/2008 12:39:19 »
Time is something humans use to know the time of a moment. But before the big bang, in the vast of nothingness, their must of have still been moments, but with just nothing in them. Like if you have air but with no solid objects in them. Or just like space as it is with no air and pure nothingness, that space would have just been all around... Doesn't time still apply in space??? So why wouldn't it before the big bang if it was just space?

Big Bang created spacetime so you didn't have space nor time "before" it.

Right so if the big bang created space time there was no space, and space is nothing, just big spaces or nothingness... so if before the big bang their wasnt nothing, then how would the big bang of created the universe if there was nothing? ie no space time.... because then when you ask the question what was before the big bang according to science you can't say nothing because thats what space is... but then what could you say was before the big bang if you can't say nothing?

So could it be because their are multiverses(or so some scientists believe), maybe another 2universe's created our universe by colliding together and thats what caused the explosion of the big bang?

Because then their could of actually been no space or time (nothing) before the big bang, if you think about how multiverses are, its like if you have a 2D image, you first have side to side, then up an down, they are both 2 types of universes, then when you make it a 3D image, you have alot more different types of universe.

But what I mean is that if before the image is 3D, if the collision happend of two 2D images, then it becomes a 3Dimage... how could you explain that 3Dimage looking at it from a 2D perspective?

If multiverses colliding did create our universe, then whats probabley the simple way to look at it, without all the complicated maths involved. Having a 3D Image, but trying to picture it in a 2D world. That's how the multiverses that collided to make ours could of been 2D but when they collided they became 3D.

That's what I think logically must have been before the big bang if nothing (no space) wasn't before it.. Different universes.
 

Offline shmengie

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #14 on: 14/05/2008 18:20:30 »
If multiverses colliding did create our universe, then whats probabley the simple way to look at it, without all the complicated maths involved. Having a 3D Image, but trying to picture it in a 2D world. That's how the multiverses that collided to make ours could of been 2D but when they collided they became 3D.

That's what I think logically must have been before the big bang if nothing (no space) wasn't before it.. Different universes.

I suspect gravity was the last dimension to collide with (or be added to) our universe.  B4 then, it was possibly a humongous lump of Bose-Einstein condensate.

The effects of gravity being introduced has produced stars, galaxies, etc. and everything else we observe, it almost certainly has to be the last ingredient.

I find in inconceivable that all rules governing the universe came together at once, though I don't discount the possibility, it seems improbable.  I speculate the last bang in the sequence of the "biggie" is gravity, otherwise, inflationary or an expanding universe would cause more filaments and/or some semblance of a center.

But then it's entirely possible that gravity existed first and something caused matter to spontaneously exist.  Given the rules of energy conservation, this seems unlikely.
 

Offline science_guy

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #15 on: 14/05/2008 19:21:00 »
Quote
If multiverses colliding did create our universe, then whats probabley the simple way to look at it, without all the complicated maths involved. Having a 3D Image, but trying to picture it in a 2D world. That's how the multiverses that collided to make ours could of been 2D but when they collided they became 3D.

That's what I think logically must have been before the big bang if nothing (no space) wasn't before it.. Different universes.

That point does nothing but expand the question a little farther back, how were the universes before it created? is it an infinite cycle with no beginning? is such a thing possible?
 

lyner

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #16 on: 14/05/2008 23:16:45 »
How can you guys still be talking in terms of 'before' and 'after'? Both words imply time and, if time is only in our Universe, there can be no time corresponding to 'not in or not during the time of existence of' our universe.
There is no real problem in considering alternative Universes but they need to be discussed in other (/ extra) terms than the ones with which we discuss this one.
Without a radical change of views you can't get anywhere useful in understanding these things. Just imagine trying to discuss cosmology with a determined 'flatlander'. It would not be possible.
« Last Edit: 14/05/2008 23:19:53 by sophiecentaur »
 

Offline caboose17

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #17 on: 16/05/2008 19:05:20 »
Einstein Believed in the theory of the constant universe, meaning that the universe has no beginning and no end, but this is disproved by the fact that everything in the universe is moving away from each other respectively at a constant rate. But science will never be able to prove or disprove the big bang theory. The theory is just that a theory. it is the best thing that scientists have at the moment.
       it is very hard for one to imagine a universe with no beginning and no end because in order for something to exist it needs to have had an origin. but this doesn't necessarily mean that it has to have and end.
The big bang is a hypothetical beginning that cannot ever be proven.
Some people say that by colliding protons together scientists can create a universe. if this is true then the big bang theory is disproved immediately and the question becomes how where the protons formed and how where they collided. Because protons are very hard to collide it takes a great amount of energy in order for them to touch and if there was nothing then how can there be force. and the greater question becomes what made the protons collide.
        This is the product of the feeble mind of a child.
       
 

Offline LeeE

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #18 on: 17/05/2008 21:49:48 »
If two protons existed in nothing there would be nowhere where they could be separate from each other.  They would be in a state of collision as soon as they existed.

Actually, no particles existed at the earliest stages of the BB.
 

lyner

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #19 on: 18/05/2008 00:34:18 »
Quote
Some people say that by colliding protons together scientists can create a universe. if this is true then the big bang theory is disproved immediately and the question becomes how where the protons formed and how where they collided. Because protons are very hard to collide it takes a great amount of energy in order for them to touch
Isn't this Nuclear Fusion? It's happening all the time - you can do it in a lab if you have enough money.
 

Offline Mark Paquette

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #20 on: 18/05/2008 05:35:06 »
I think this is where science ends and religion is called on to step up.  It seems when science hasn't an answer, one is made up until a better explanation comes along.  Early native Americans, not knowing how thunder is created, would have staked their life that there is, in fact, a thundergod.  We now know this not to be true.

Carl Sagan had the view that as time goes by, each mystery is revealed by science, as advanced measuring methods are developed.

We humans have a hard time accepting things unless we can clearly see them.

It is as hard to imagine the period before the big bang as it is to imagine a four dimensional universe, one in which there would be four lines radiating at 90 degrees from the corner of a room, rather than the current three.  Look up at the corner of your room and try it.
Because we can't imagine or see it, does not rule out the possibility.

I, like many others I'm sure, would love to know the answer to this question.  It would have a profound impact on religion and science, as it is one of the few grand mysteries that stares us in the face everyday, but still remains unanswered.

So we spend time trying to visualize what was before the big bang, yet our minds are not capable of visualizing pure nothingness (if, in fact, that's how it was?).  It's like trying to consider eternity.  If you lie in bed sometimes and try for a while, you might, like I do, get a fleeting idea of the concept.  It startles me, then leaves.

I think the same will always be true when considering "what happened before the big bang?"

-Mark
 

Offline LeeE

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #21 on: 18/05/2008 14:44:05 »
Science doesn't preclude religion - they perform fundamentally different purposes.  Science describes what happens in the universe but religion claims to give reasons for why things happen.

Every scientific theory and all scientific knowledge is really a description of what occurs in a given set of circumstances, so although a theory may say that an outcome 'A' happens because of reason 'Z', and appears to say why event 'A' occurs, it's really a description of the process whereby reason 'Z' results in event 'A'.  Religion, on the other hand, attempts to say why reason 'Z' occured in the first place.

However, I don't think that religion provides any answers.  The important thing about religion is faith, and faith precludes knowledge.  Faith is the belief in something without proof but as soon as proof is found you have knowledge, and so belief, and therefore faith become redundant.

People can and do turn to religion, but it's on the basis of ignorance and has no more validity in terms of knowledge than fantasy, where anything can happen for any reason.
 

Offline Mark Paquette

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #22 on: 18/05/2008 17:55:35 »
I agree totally.  My point was that religion does provide answers for those who have faith.  For those lacking such faith (like myself), I don't consider them "answers".

My comment about religion "stepping up" is meant to show that when we don't have a "real" answer, religion will provide one.  If you don't have a religious faith, then you are left to ponder such questions as "how was something made from nothing"...Christianity, for example, provides the answer to its faithful:  "God created it all, so shutup already".  As a "scientist" (and boy, do I use that term loosely), I tend to look for the cause of the thunder, and not readily accept that "it's the thundergods, so shutup already".
I'm wondering if the thought of "absolutely nothing before the big bang" is as hard for me to fathom as it would have been for the Indians to fathom the thought of air molecules crashing together to create thunder.  They couldn't possibly imagine it, yet later, it was proven that in fact, this is thunder.
 

Offline LeeE

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #23 on: 19/05/2008 11:20:09 »
Yeah, it's interesting that when people generally reach the limit of knowledge they prefer to make up an answer based on whatever speculation occurs to them rather than accept that they just don't know, which is really a much more accurate, meaningful and useful answer.
 

lyner

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #24 on: 19/05/2008 12:24:28 »
Quote
I'm wondering if the thought of "absolutely nothing before the big bang" is as hard for me to fathom as it would have been for the Indians to fathom the thought of air molecules crashing together to create thunder.  They couldn't possibly imagine it, yet later, it was proven that in fact, this is thunder.
The two things are not really comparable. The "Indians'  needed an explanation but hadn't the Science on which to base an explanation. A much better explanation than clouds bumping together is available using straightforward, step by step, mechanical reasons. Their question was about a concrete phenomenon which they could actually see and hear. The other idea is much more remote and less approachable.
The 'before the big bang' idea is not even a proper question (with respect to all the posters on this thread) but we can resolve the problem by using what 'we', as a Science / Philosophy community, already appreciate. The concept of 'before' implies TIME. If you are considering a region (not a time) in which the idea of time does not apply, then you can't use time - based words, such as 'before', with which to discuss it.
If someone told you to locate the END of a rubber band, you would appreciate that was a daft question. If they said "Where does the rubber band start?" you could not tell them an answer in terms of distance along the rubber band. We are all familiar enough, even, with rubber bands to actually ignore the difficulty involved.
Now, although we don't think of time as being an endless loop, we still can appreciate the possibility of time (future) as possibly having no limit - just going on and on with nothing 'beyond'**.  I think that even the statement "after the end of time" would seem a bit dodgy because the word 'after' would imply some more time left on the end.
SO, why is there a problem with just saying that there is /was no time 'before'  what we refer to as the beginning of time? If the BB represents some kind of boundary / start to time then 'before BB' doesn't need to have any more meaning than 'off the end of' a rubber band does.
You could say that there are places which are not actually on the rubber band (places in our familiar 3D space).
There are / could be regions that are not actually part of our 'time'. But, because we aren't  outside the model we are studying, it's a bit more of a mental leap to accept. We can't perceive the thing from a wider perspective as we can with a rubber band which we can actually see  and run our finger along .

But why not go along with this idea?
** Just one of the possible futures for the Universe, which could be open, closed or flat.
« Last Edit: 19/05/2008 12:34:03 by sophiecentaur »
 

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