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What happened before the big bang?

Posted by Heavy | April 7, 2008 10:13 AM

I think you just broke my brain. That was way too much deep thought for first thing Monday morning. So, in the future the only now is now?

Posted by PopTart | April 7, 2008 10:21 AM

we live in interesting times...

Posted by infrequent | April 7, 2008 10:27 AM

How do we know there isn't more universe beyond our current event horizon/ observable space already ?

Posted by DJSauvage | April 7, 2008 10:35 AM

Wait. How exactly are those galaxies going to travel faster than the speed of light?

Posted by keshmeshi | April 7, 2008 10:44 AM

if galaxy a goes left at half the speed of light, and galaxy b goes right at half the speed of light, neither are going faster than the speed of light, but they are separating by the speed of light.

Posted by infrequent | April 7, 2008 10:50 AM

We're hurtling away from the BB, perhaps toward the products of other BBs, eventually creating the Big Interference Pattern.

Posted by Dude | April 7, 2008 10:50 AM

@5 - The idea is that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

However, it seems likely to me that the velocity of expansion, like everything else in nature, goes in cycles. We are accelerating now, but who's to say we won't be slowing down and contracting in the future. Eventually, there will be a Big Crunch, then another Big Bang, and Slog will begin anew.

Posted by Mahtli69 | April 7, 2008 10:51 AM

it's been theorized that the unimaginably small dimension prior to the big bang was in a state of incredibly low entropy (highly ordered). when the probability of a movement to high entropy occured, bang. hmm, that's so oversimplified it doesn't really explain anything.

anyway, though i am in no position to argue with the theory of the end of cosmology, i do think it is a bit of hubris to expect that more of the mysteries of the universe will not be untangled in the distant future.

though the universe will look completely different and current clues to origins will be erased, what is to say new clues will not be uncovered?

perhaps a distant (in space, in time) intelligence will uncover the mystery of time's arrow, will discover the string and M-threories' other dimensions, will experimentally validate what our time calls a Higgs Field...

and in doing so find other means of unlocking the puzzles that lie at the creation of the current universe.

Posted by chops | April 7, 2008 10:59 AM

@6 + @7. if two galaxies were moving towards each other faster than the speed of light we wouldn't know it until the moment they hit.

and i'm not sure we really "know" it even then...

Posted by infrequent | April 7, 2008 11:04 AM

the speed of light is constant.

Posted by chops | April 7, 2008 11:07 AM

The question "why is one in this time and not, say, in a future or past time" does not have any meaning. You've got it backwards. You're wondering why you're "in this time" BECAUSE you're in this time, and everyone in every other time wonders the same thing. You're the victim of sloppy language.

Posted by Fnarf | April 7, 2008 11:13 AM

#6, true, but I don't think the theory of the article is hinging on that.

The quickening expansion will eventually pull galaxies apart faster than light, causing them to drop out of view.

Unless this article is challenging the theory of special relativity and everything we know about how light travels, this is more of the same overly simplified pseudo-science that's pretty common from Scientific American.

Light travels at a constant speed, regardless of the speed of its origin. Light is also observed at a constant speed to all observers, regardless of their respective speeds.

If galaxy A is moving left at 0.5c and galaxy B is moving right at 0.5c, the light leaving galaxy A still moves at 1.0c and will catch up to galaxy B. It will be red-shifted, though.

If I'm reading it correctly, the article is saying the galaxies *will* actually approach the speed of light. It's different than someone throwing a baseball 30mph from a car moving 30mph in the opposite direction, though, where the baseball would end up with zero net velocity. It's not that the photons will be left standing still due to the galaxy moving close to the speed of light (since light travels at a constant speed regardless of the source velocity), it's just that they will be red-shifted into something non-observable, or at least something completely non-cogent. Page 4 has the goods:

Just as the event horizon of a black hole emits radiation, so, too, does our cosmological event horizon. Yet the temperature associated with this radiation is unmeasurably small, about 1030 kelvin. Even if astronomers were able to detect it, they would probably attribute it to some other, far larger local source of noise.

The author's tendency to sensationalize the trickle of ultra-red-shifted radiation into a "void" of "nothingness" is merely a consequence of Scientific American being a somewhat silly pop-sci periodical.

Hope this helps.

Posted by w7ngman | April 7, 2008 11:36 AM

But aren't we really inside an atom in the fingernail of a giant?

Posted by Pinto | April 7, 2008 11:49 AM

Im not sure what any of them know or how they come to prove what they think they know but I definately know at this time I need the number to Charles dealer.

Posted by drone5969 | April 7, 2008 12:41 PM

I'd be perfectly OK with having no knowledge of that stupid CBS sitcom.

Posted by D Huygens | April 7, 2008 12:50 PM

I heard that beyond the universe exists an infinate membranre of infinate diminsions one 'moment" (time and space exists in a way unthinkble to us in this higher plan...about 11(?) (or whatever number string theory says) dimminsions happend to intersect at one "point" that "point' is our addition to the infinate number of universes we span off at every micro moment due to laws of probibility there are other "points" in this membrane where entirely forgion mixtures of diminsions tersect, creating "universes with radicly different concepts of "space" and 'time"

Posted by linus | April 7, 2008 1:16 PM


OK, but it's my completely amateurish understanding that traveling faster than the speed of light is impossible.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 7, 2008 1:18 PM

It is, and this article doesn't seem to challenge that.

Posted by w7ngman | April 7, 2008 2:26 PM

There are some theories about transcending the speed with regard to Tachyons and D-branes..somewhat controversial though.

but there is this Proust at the end of Remembrance of Things Past:

" describe men first and foremost as occupying a place, a very considerable place compared with the restricted one which is alloted to them in space, a place on the contrary immoderately prolonged--- for simultaneously, like giants plunged into the years, they touch epochs that are immensely far apart, separated by the slow accretion of many, many days-- in the dimension of time."


Posted by point x point synopsis | April 7, 2008 4:31 PM

Haven't people known about the Heat Death since the Victorian ages?

Posted by Primus | April 7, 2008 5:05 PM

Eh, 100 billion years from now either we'd be dead or be so technologically advanced we could KICK REASON TO THE CURB and re-crunch the universe.

Posted by Anti-Spiral | April 7, 2008 6:06 PM

There might not be any "they of tomorrow" we could easily become extinct. We do not have any control over our future when it comes to surviving on this planet. Our history so far has been short. Other animals have lived and survived far longer than we have been around and could possibly continue on long after we are gone.

Posted by -B- | April 7, 2008 7:56 PM

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