What existed before the Big Bang?

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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?

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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

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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.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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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.
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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.

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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"
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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...

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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.

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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?

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
BTW:  I'm new to this forum, hope ya'll enjoy my warped sense of humor, if it ever appears.
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Offline science_guy

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #15 on: 14/05/2008 19:21:00 »
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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?
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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 »

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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.
       

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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.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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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.

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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

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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.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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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.

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Offline LeeE

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« 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.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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lyner

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #24 on: 19/05/2008 12:24:28 »
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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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Offline Mark Paquette

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #25 on: 20/05/2008 02:00:52 »
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The two things are not really comparable. The "Indians' needed an explanation but hadn't the Science on which to base an explanation.

I still think the two are comparable in my reference to their being equally as perplexing to the observers, with no way to be absolutely sure of the circumstances in either case.  Neither party had/has the Science on which to base an explanation...I mean a real explanantion.
To say for sure there was nothing before (I know, but please excuse the temporal reference) the big bang  is as good as saying there was a big, white stuffed bunny there. Or maybe there was a physicist in a laboratory, with a newly built particle accelerator,  throwing the switch on the first ever attempt to create a small universe in the lab (came out a little bigger than he thought).
In the latter case, there for sure would have been a "before", with something there, too.  Kind of like the time before Jesus Christ...you have AD 2008 and you have 2008 BC.

Finally, forgive my ignorance if my statements/opinions are naive, but people I know in "real life" aren't even sure why it's cold in the Winter and hot in Summer, and this type of conversation is refreshing...been waiting a long time.

-Mark

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Offline science_guy

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #26 on: 20/05/2008 05:06:20 »
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the big bang  is as good as saying there was a big, white stuffed bunny there. Or maybe there was a physicist in a laboratory, with a newly built particle accelerator,  throwing the switch on the first ever attempt to create a small universe in the lab (came out a little bigger than he thought).

I laughed when I read this. 

but What matters is not your naivete, but actually the insight you provide, and you've provided plenty of it.

despite my professed beliefs, I am always questioning, always yearning to know.  Astronomy kind of stops that quest cold. [:)]
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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #27 on: 20/05/2008 19:15:12 »
Heh - that reminded me of the lines "It's a small world but I wouldn't want to have to paint it" and "Who'd want everything? Where would you put it?" by Stephen Wright (see http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Steven_Wright for more amusing one-liners)

...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline johnbrandy

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #28 on: 25/05/2008 02:44:19 »
The Big Bang is a 'theory', reputed to be the most acceptable explanation, among cosmologist, as to the origin of the known universe. Therefore the question, "what existed before the Big Bang", is hopelessly flawed. Please understand,I state this respectfully. In a different, but clearly relevant vein, Carlo Suares writes in his book, "The Cipher of Genesis", in regard to the biblical verse, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth", "The hypothesis of the existence of an unthinkable God previous to an unthinkable beginning forces the mind to confront the absurdity of a something-before-anything creating everything out of nothing". "A "beginning" of time and space is as unthinkable as is their non-beginning. Therefore a text that proclaims the hopelessly inconceivable leads at the very start into the fictitious domains of wrong thinking". Further he writes, "Thus-by means of such circuitous stratagems-does the psyche mesmerize the intellect so as to extort the justification it requires in order to avoid having to face the dreaded idea of an ever-present mystery". We are asking a question that utterly falls outside of our ability to know, understand, and more importantly, cognize. Yet, when viewed and seriously reflected upon in the above context, the question, "what existed before the Big Bang", can serve a useful purpose. It "forces" the mind to the realization that life necessitates an ever-present mystery. The mind is a wonderful and elegant tool, but it has inherent limitations, with respect to our very existence, and our place in the universe, and the related questions that arise. This fact seem obvious. I graciously offer this view for your consideration.         
« Last Edit: 03/06/2008 04:38:19 by johnbrandy »

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #29 on: 25/05/2008 09:24:32 »
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?


You seem to be confusing "space" with "nothing". They are not the same. "Nothing" is not the same as "empty". To be empty implies there is something with nothing in it. There is no space in nothing, and there is no nothing anywhere in space. If there were nothing in space, space would still be a something due to its very existence and therefore couldn't be nothing. "Nothing" is a lack of everything, including space.

I prefer to think of pre-Big Bang as null rather than nothing. To a computer programmer, null is an unknown value but, potentially, could be any value. As soon as it gets a value, it is not null. The Big Bang gave the null a value so it became something tangible.
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Offline caboose17

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What existed before the Big Bang?
« Reply #30 on: 26/05/2008 03:33:12 »
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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.

protons never completely collide together. they have the same charge and so there for repel eachother. They would never collide under normal circumstances.

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Offline caboose17

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« Reply #31 on: 26/05/2008 03:36:20 »
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.

what i said was just a theory based on facts. I know that there were no particles prior to the big bang but then how did we get something from nothingness. Can you imagine nothingness. let me tell you it is scary. Now how do you get SOMETHING from NOTHING? NOBODY can answer that question.

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #32 on: 26/05/2008 23:02:07 »
I am an expert on nothing.  Nothingness isn't scary - it's boring.

However, the fact that there was no space and no time prior to the BB doesn't mean that there was nothing.  I agree that the universe wasn't created out of nothing - if there was nothing, there would be nothing to create the universe out of:)

The problem is that what existed prior to the BB did so in a state that can't be described in terms of space and time.

A much simplified version of this question might be: how much water is there in that ice cube?

The answer is none, because it's ice.  (I did say it was a very simplified version [;D])
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Eddie

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« Reply #33 on: 06/09/2008 19:17:16 »
Why not try jumping out of physics and looking at what philosophy has to say because there will never be physical evidence of what existed before the big bang,the beginning of physics.
Kant, for instance looked at it this way.
"Time and space are not substantial things but a-priori attendances to the appearance of the extended world. The latter in effect is a mental model of the world that we have and can verify but only in a time and space context.
Because we cannot know the reality of the extended world absolutely we are at liberty to develop an argument in terms of our interpretation.
A debate whether the universe had a beginning in space and time and was finite could not be assertive, but in order for us to understand the world it needs to have a beginning and be finite.
As time and space were merely determined by appearance and had no proven absolute substantiality there is no reason why they cannot be regarded as assuming a state of nothing. Empty space and time outside of the known universe is thus justifiable."

In short we must postulate a state of nothing before the big bang in order to understand the evidence our instruments show us. Nevertheless, this could drastically alter as we progress our knowledge.

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #34 on: 07/09/2008 12:56:59 »
Is philosophy redundant in the face of knowledge?  That is, if something is known to be, is there any point in debating it's existance?  Philosophy does have a place in debating the unknown i.e. we don't know why the colour of this thing that we know to exist is the colour that it is, but once we know the answer it once again becomes redundant.  It seems then that philosophy is about the unknown and possible but not the known and actual.

Philosophy can therefore produce lines of inquiry, but then science is needed to investigate that line of inquiry to find out if it is true or false.

I must dispute the statement that "there will never be physical evidence of what existed before the big bang,the beginning of physics" - this just can't be proved.  It can even be argued that the fact of the existence of the universe is evidence that something did exist before the BB, unless you wish to believe that something can be created out of nothing (for which no possible logical mechanism exists).

I think that the statement "As time and space were merely determined by appearance and had no proven absolute substantiality there is no reason why they cannot be regarded as assuming a state of nothing" is also flawed:  Our thoughts, both yours and mine, have no substantiality but they certainly exist - these postings on the forum would never have happened without them.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Eddie

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« Reply #35 on: 07/09/2008 20:27:53 »
Hi Lee,
The opinion put forward in my post was Kant's and he lived in the eighteenth century.

Your comments are valid but do miss the point a bit. Philosophers would challenge the concept of knowledge and to be quite frank science doesn't have such a good record of holding absolute knowledge; I can cite Dalton's atomic structure, Newton's gravity and so on. Science is a progressive phenomenon which is based upon the admirable rule of revising the old in face of ever increasing discoveries and researches. The knowledge of today is a tenuous thing,  I think any scientist worth his salt would hold that constantly debating that which we contest we know to be is a vital part of human progress.

I think Kant had a valid point answering the initial post which was 'how can the universe have come to be from a state of nothing'. What he meant was as space and time are the way in which we guage the world in which we live (note quantom seriously challenges these concepts) then we are at liberty to consider them as having a beginning before which was relative nothing if it fits the current scientific 'knowledge'. However we cannot say this is the absolute reality and we wouldn't be true scientists if we thought so because our 'knowledge' would become dogmatic.

Philosophy has a vital role to play still in this regard as you rightly say but when do we stop and say we have absolute knowledge by way of our scientific quest. Philosophy, if you understand what it really is, will never be redundant in the face of knowledge.

I agree with you that 'something out of nothing is illogical, you are being philosophical here.....do you see what I'm getting at.

Eddie
 



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Offline Soul Surfer

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« Reply #36 on: 08/09/2008 00:03:56 »
The law of conservation of energy to gether with the law of the conservation of angular momentum seem to be just about the most solid and fundamental features of this universe.
Assuming that these laws are true it is perfectly obvious that the universe has always existed and always will altough it may change shape.  However defining what that shape is likely to be is far more difficult.
Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #37 on: 09/09/2008 18:26:16 »
Many philosophers have indeed challenged the concept of knowledge but they all came out of the fray as the loser.

Challenging the concept of knowledge can be quickly reduced to: "I am challenging the concept of knowledge".  If that statement is true, I am in possession of knowledge (the knowledge of my action in challenging the concept of knowledge) and thereby prove that knowledge exists.  If the statement is untrue, I am not in fact challenging or questioning the concept of knowledge at all, and can draw no conclusions about it.

I don't disagree that scientists question and debate things that are considered to be knowledge, but unless there's a problem, something that's missing or doesn't add up within that knowledge, they'll be discussing the implications of that knowledge and where it leads, not the existing knowledge itself.
« Last Edit: 09/09/2008 18:28:37 by LeeE »
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Eddie

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« Reply #38 on: 11/09/2008 13:17:03 »
"Challenging the concept of knowledge can be quickly reduced to: "I am challenging the concept of knowledge".  If that statement is true, I am in possession of knowledge (the knowledge of my action in challenging the concept of knowledge) and thereby prove that knowledge exists.  If the statement is untrue, I am not in fact challenging or questioning the concept of knowledge at all, and can draw no conclusions about it." (Lee E)

Oh dear.....a self contradiction argument, it's merely an exercise in language and not the point at all. Philosophy does not challenge the concept of 'knowledge' but the assumption that we have correct knowledge. In this example the subject has knowledge but it is the wrong knowledge; he is challenging his very act (having knowledge).

Kant was saying if we base our arguments upon the concepts of space and time and then say that space and time actually began at the point of the big bang then they could not exist prior to that starting point. Within the pre-selected parameters of space and time we can justifiably say there was nothing prior to them.

The implication is that we thus need to look outside of our space and time concepts to investigate the state before the big bang. This is something that has been forced upon us by quantom itself where space and time concepts prove inadequate to objectively describe nature.The 'nothing' before the big bang is relative to space and time not absolute.

So to return to the slight deviation into philosophy, we must question if we do in fact have the correct knowledge of the absolute reality in terms of space and time, or as Kant points out, are these concepts which are relative to our conscious knowledge only. 

Science, more than at any time before, must question unargued postulates.

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #39 on: 12/09/2008 15:46:29 »
Hmm...  well you did say:

Quote
Philosophers would challenge the concept of knowledge...

and not

Quote
the assumption of correct knowledge

and I can't regard my argument as being just one of language - it's an argument of logic and would mean the same in any language (where the concept of knowledge was the same)  [:)]

I think the problem with Kant's conclusion was that he failed to imagine that any other state of existance, other than the current one, was possible, and therefore didn't qualify what he meant by 'nothing'.  I think that most people are happy with the idea that everything that exists now, in the form we are familiar with, did not exist before the BB, but that doesn't mean that things that we are not familiar with, or which do not exist now, never existed.

I agree totally that

Quote
we thus need to look outside of our space and time concepts to investigate the state before the big bang

That's true by definition  [;D]
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Eddie

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« Reply #40 on: 12/09/2008 21:11:18 »
Lee,
It's 'language' as the method of 'deconstruction'(philosophical term..nothing to do with buildings and so on) which is a logic trying to display the inadequacy of language as a philosophical tool of communication and attempting to disprove a submission on those grounds only....Wittgenstein, Jacques Derrida and all that, and not a case of German, French and so on. I'm sorry I did not make that clear.
I thought, however that the rest of my post which started this debate made it clear I was not talking about Knowledge as an isolated concept.

I chose Kant to try and move the initial argument on a bit (See your post beginning with 'I'm an expert on nothing' which I entirely agreed with.)

Kant is generally regarded as a supporter of science. The publisher 'Everyman' comments on his work
"(Kant's) argument,if correct, shows traditional metaphysical claims to the knowledge of relaity which lie behind or beyond our sense experience are unfounded but at the same time it vindicates the reality of scientific knowledge."

I don't think he was trying to give an opinion about 'nothing' but warning that our knowledge based upon that which we can experience (in the full extent including scientific evidence and enquiry)may not be relied upon when considering things we cannot by definition experience. He applied his argument in his own time but it is not beyond possibility that the same thing applies today. It's not fair to say he failed to imagine any state of existence other than the current one because the main thrust of his thought was about 'noumena' the actual state of the existence of things in the extended world outside of our immediate conscious interpretation. It was the whole point of his claim that in terms of space and time we can say there was nothing.His 'noumena' idea has received a lot of criticism but it indicated he was definitely implying states of existence outside the current one. History shows he wasn't far out in view of quantom etc.


 

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #41 on: 13/09/2008 16:04:43 »
Hi,

I interpreted your original post as arguing: Because we can not directly experience or observe what existed before the Big Bang, we might obtain knowledge via philosophy.  The argument I tried to make was:  Philosophy may produce directions of investigation but cannot, on it's own, result in knowledge.

I think that the issue I have with Kant's argument is that it seems redundant.  It's not incorrect, but logically unnecessary.  This might come down to context - when he made his argument, the concepts he was attempting to deal with were much more novel than they are now - what then seemed controversial is now widely accepted.

Whereas Kant seems to argue:

Quote
A debate whether the universe had a beginning in space and time and was finite could not be assertive, but in order for us to understand the world it needs to have a beginning and be finite.

I would argue that if Space and Time was created in the Big Bang, it could not have existed before it was created.

Kant might arrive at the same answer in the end but there's no proof, and therefore no knowledge.  However, as long as we accept causality, the fact that nothing exists before it is created must be accepted as true, and therefore knowledge.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Eddie

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« Reply #42 on: 13/09/2008 20:19:03 »
This is dead right Lee, in fact one of Kant's statements was

'the confirmation of an idea of reason by perceptive intuition (this includes experiment, observation etc) is a guide to the knowledge of reality'.

I considered what you were saying and what Kant inferred were about the same but from a different perspective.
Perhaps he is now redundant but for a eighteenth century guy he seemed very perceptive.

The problem now is, as we cannot 'experience' what state existed before the big bang. Presumably we have the recourse to make theories which will have consequences. It is the latter that we have the ability to 'experience' with the scientific method at our disposal.

There are quite a few theories bounded about....cyclic universe theory, quantom vacuum idea, actual creation ex-nihilo based on the supposition that gravity and inflation cancel to zero, the several dimensions theory, the many universes theory and so on. It is the consequences of each which will be likely to lead to the most viable conclusion and perhaps that will be as near to knowledge that we will ever be able to get.

The quest of particle physics towards Hawking's 'theory of everything' may be a curse in disguise in this respect for it will form the universe into a totality. Outside of a totality can only be one thing and that is nothing. In a way I hope CERN still discovers some more loose ends.

What do you think?



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Offline rlsuth

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« Reply #43 on: 15/09/2008 16:50:06 »
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.


Einstein didn't believe that at all. Well, he did originally which is why he introduced his cosmological constant, but he moved away from that theory.

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Offline rlsuth

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« Reply #44 on: 15/09/2008 16:50:59 »
Joshua Brown asked the Naked Scientists:
What was existence before the big bang?



It is possible that there was a collapsing universe before the big bang.

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Offline Democritus

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« Reply #45 on: 15/09/2008 17:26:24 »
Joshua asks "How did something come from nothing?"
That is the question. I'm afraid.
Democritus

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #46 on: 15/09/2008 22:39:46 »
Hi Eddie,

I think we are still a long way from a comprehensive theory of everything.  Let's say the the LHC reveals the Higgs Boson and makes the QM Standard Model more complete - has this answered everything?  Well of course not, it'll just be confirming a theory of behaviour of the universe at a certain level.  It'll say what fundamental particles exist at that level, what their properties are and how they interact.  It won't explain the structure of those particles and why they have their properties, which is where the next round of theories, and proving them begins.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline socratus

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« Reply #47 on: 17/09/2008 08:41:57 »
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?
======================
Before “ big bang “ was God.
And the God created the Universe and everything.
I now only two ways to explain this fact.
1)
The action, when the God compresses all Universe
into his palm,  we have named " a  singular point".
And action, when  the God opens his palm,
we have named the "Big Bang".

The Catholic Church agrees with this idea.
Look:
http://discovermagazine.com/2004/feb/cover/
 
2)
At first God ( according to Quantum theory ) used the
Vacuum ( T= 0K ) to create “ virtual particles “ and
 they ( according SRT + QED and GRT ) created the
Universe and Everything in this Materialistic Universe.

Nobody agrees with this idea.

3)
Do you have another idea ?
==========..
Best wishes.
Israel Sadovnik. / Socratus.
http://www.socratus.com
http://www.wbabin.net
http://www.wbabin.net/comments/sadovnik.htm
http://www.wbabin.net/physics/sadovnik.pdf

=============================================

The secret of 'God' and 'Existence' hide
 in the “Theory of Light quanta”.

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Offline Eddie

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« Reply #48 on: 17/09/2008 19:22:42 »
Hi Lee,

Yes, validity for the Higgs field to unify electro-weak force will not be the end things.

(In fact the Higgs field was cited as the means to the 'from nothing we come and to nothing we will go' theories of the big bang in the late 80's.)

What are we to make of the theoretical non zero vacuum state expectation?

Problem to me is, at this stage, particle physics seems to be leading either to the creation ex-nihilo idea or the possibility infinite regression. Are we therefore looking to cyclic universes or other dimensions?

To answer Joshua Brown's post is hard because the illogical submission of something from nothing doesn't seem to have anything concrete to challenge it yet other than events which at the moment are regarded as acausal.

Regards,
Eddie

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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #49 on: 19/09/2008 17:06:19 »
Hi Eddie,

If we accept that the set of space-time dimensions that we are familiar with were created in the BB then it would seem that whatever existed before the BB did so somewhere else, which implies other dimensions.

I think that a dimensional super-set may offer the best explanation to the occurrence of the BB, and where everything came from, although such a dimensional super-set would have to be pre-existing, and then we'd start wondering about where that came from.

If we go along with this idea of a pre-existing dimensional super-set we could then postulate that an (unknown) event and mechanism within that super-set caused the isolation of the region forming our universe from the rest of the super-set.  It's difficult to imagine what such an event could be, especially from our point of view within our sub-set, but as this is an issue of hierarchy we might find a lower order example of this mechanism within our own universe.  For example, if we think of our four-dimensional space-time universe as being an isolated region of four-dimensional space-time within a five dimensional space-time universe, perhaps we should look for the formation of isolated three-dimensional regions of space-time within our four-dimensional universe.

One possible candidate for this phenomenon occurring in our universe could be the formation of Black Holes.  In the current model of Black Holes (from our four-dimensional space-time point of view) the rate of time becomes zero at the Schwarzchild radius/Event Horizon, effectively removing one of the dimensions and leaving an isolated three-dimensional region of space(/time?) within our four-dimensional space-time universe.  Now because no events can occur without a time dimension, which is required to allow the necessary before/after states that define the occurrence of an event, the implication would seem to be that if a new universe is created within a BH, and starts when the BH is formed, it'll only have two spatial dimensions but be spatially unbounded (not only in terms of it's shape but also because there's infinite two dimensional area within a three-dimensional volume).  At the same 'time' it's time dimension would be entirely new, 'current' time having been zeroed at the EH.  A pleasing aspect of this model is that we could hypothesize that the energy and matter we see falling into a BH results in the expansion of the three-dimensional universe within it, although such a universal expansion would have to be non-constant and varying over time, due to the varying stream of in-falling energy & matter from our universe.  Ultimately, such a universe is likely to evaporate due to Hawking radiation.

Now comes the disclaimer [;D]

This is not a theory

...unless it turns out that after sufficient observation, the expansion of our universe turns out to vary in such a way that would fit with the idea of five-dimensional energy & matter falling in to it, at which point I'll start claiming to be famous [;D]
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!