Horizon: What Happened Before the Big Bang?

The non amateur stuff. Hawking, black holes, that sort of thing

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david entwistle
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Horizon: What Happened Before the Big Bang?

Post by david entwistle »

See here for details.

Monday 11th October, 21:00 on BBC Two (except Northern Ireland (Analogue), Wales (Analogue))
Series exploring topical scientific issues.

They are the biggest questions that science can possibly ask: where did everything in our universe come from? How did it all begin? For nearly a hundred years, we thought we had the answer: a big bang some 14 billion years ago.

But now some scientists believe that was not really the beginning. Our universe may have had a life before this violent moment of creation.

Horizon takes the ultimate trip into the unknown, to explore a dizzying world of cosmic bounces, rips and multiple universes, and finds out what happened before the big bang.
David Entwistle
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Post by mike a feist »

A "more solid" programme, that I really enjoyed more than any broadcast recently with an astronomical theme was "Meteorite Men".....exciting and funny and real .....what more can I say!!!Great! maf
G Burt
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Post by G Burt »

Dear Mike and David,

'Meteorite Men' was certainly enjoyable and I found myself a wee bit envious that there are no meteorite strewn fields in the UK as there are in the US, Australia and other places. Presumably, it would be possible to look for metallic micrometeorites anywhere in this country ( I gather it's possible to find them on your own roof ? ) but there might be problems with astronomers wandering around the landscape with metal detectors.....

Regarding what happened before the Big Bang, cosmology has always confused me because I simply can't visualize things as purely mathematical models. Classic question: If time itself started at the Big Bang, how can there be any 'before'?

Some time ago, I went to a cosmology lecture about 'branes'. The lecture started well with the concepts of 1 dimension being represented by a straight line, 2 by a square and 3 by a cube. So far so good. Then the discourse went off into sub-atomic dimensions up to 11 ! Here's hoping tonight's Horizon programme is easier to follow.....


Best wishes,

Geoff
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Post by Davej »

Regarding what happened before the Big Bang, cosmology has always confused me because I simply can't visualize things as purely mathematical models. Classic question: If time itself started at the Big Bang, how can there be any 'before'?
Hi Geoff,
That just about sums it up for me.
I just can't get my head around things like 'without space there is no time'. Is time eternal ?? It sounds so incomprehensible to me that the universe suddenly became into existence (from what), and the clock suddenly started ticking.
All the best.
Dave
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Post by @@ »

presumably before the BB everything was packed so tightly that nothing could move and so everything was there, but as nothing at all was moving there wasnt any means or vantage point to measure time, if you get me drift :oops:
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brian livesey
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Post by brian livesey »

For the non-specialist, the programme was a bit of a bore. There were the usual misleading stock graphics, such as showing the Big Bang exploding within a pre-existing void ( from whence came the void? ), abstruse blackboard mathematics and esoteric patter from cosmologists.
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Post by Deimos »

brian livesey wrote:.. abstruse blackboard mathematics ...
I would imagine that several of the viewers of the program had difficulty with some of the equations on the various blackboards. The presentation style made it harder because they only gave brief glimpses of the various blackboards - not really enough time to assimilate and form an opinion.:)

Ian
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Post by Cliff »

Dear al(L)
I watched and recorded "Horizon" and will definitely view it again hopefully taking things in better.
My initial reaction is the programme seemed to endorse some of my concerns about cosmology and cosmologists.
The one thing I'll give cosmologists credit for is that, whilst I'm inclined to think that over the millennia many nasty things (eg wars, torture, killing) have been done in the name of religions, but I don't think cosmology in itself has ever caused any really savage nastiness.
(Althouh I suspect some rival cosmology groups discussions may get "heated".)
Best of luck from Cliff
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Post by G Burt »

Dear All,

I found the programme interesting enough but am still confused. If the Big Bang was not the instant of creation when everything started and there was a preceding sequence of universes, then it seems to me that we'd be back to the "It's turtles all the way down." scenario?

The 'two different types of nothing' seemed to make sense. The 'nothing' in the vacuum chamber was merely the absence of matter, whereas the theoretical 'nothing' before the Big Bang would have been absolute; no matter, no space and no time. The 'nothing' in the chamber occupies space, and time passes within it - I think....

I may well be missing something because, like most people, I have no understanding of the complex maths involved, yet what was presented seemed to me like an attempt to combine Steady State theory with Big Bang theory ! That is, the Big Bang is actually the latest 'bounce' in a sequence that presumably has been going on, and will continue to go on, forever. Still no definitive answer.

Perhaps it doesn't really matter. For me (and anyone reading this) the joy is in directly observing the wonders of the night sky. Whether or not the universe ever had a beginning or not isn't really going to change anything here on Earth, including the present sweeping cut-backs. Speaking of which, perhaps it was about time cosmology came up with a new controversy to justify more hard-to-get funding..... :twisted: :P

Best Wishes,

Geoff

p.s. Any replies and opinions welcome but please avoid using maths.
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Post by Deimos »

G Burt wrote:The 'nothing' in the vacuum chamber was merely the absence of matter ...
In my opinion the vacuum chamber was worse than a waste of time as, like you say, confused or detracted from the point being discussed. I can only assume that with such a mathematical topic they leapt at an opportunity to show something big, expensive, by NASA, impressive, etc. I have seen the individual talking about the vacuum chamber is quite a lot of documentaries and not really that impressed by him. He seems to spend most of his time appearing in documentaries. In this particular case what he showed and said seemed very peripheral and added confusion. But maybe others thought his contribution helpful (I am far from a definitive critic).

I think the program best thought about after mentally editing out the vacuum chamber bit.

On a wider point is did strike me that: Big Bang is falling out of favour it seems to me that a lot of the theories discussed do not address the problems with the theory but rather move the problems back so the same issues exists but you have before ... <insert whatever theory you like>.

They discussed the fact that when you get an infinity it means you have gone wrong somewhere but then talk about something happening "forever" (which could be interpreted as infinite time).

That all said, it is a complex subject and targeted at a 21:00 evening TV audience.

Ian
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Post by brian livesey »

In our present universe, it takes two to tango, i.e. for every phenomenon, there's a subject and an object ( dialectics ).
Matter or energy kept in total isolation, without anything to interact with, would remain unchanged forever.
Assuming there was a Big Bang, there must have been a previous state of interactions to make the Big Bang, or some other Genesis scenario, occur. This is why some people take the view that, in one form or another, the Universe has always existed and always will.
brian
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Post by Cliff »

Dear al(L)
As far as I am concerned (almost) anything goes.
Cosmologists just seem to continue creating ever more theories, or modifying existing theories ever more. In fact there seems to be no end to their new ideas, which fits into one of my favourite hopes ie the Universe is infinite in size, everlasting and the big bang started an infinite time back.
It just took the Big Bang a very very long time to become noticable 13.6 billion years ago.
So the Universe will exist for a total period of :-
Infinite time in the past + Infinite time in Future = 2 x infinite time.
However, nothing can exceed "infinity" so, 2 x infinite time = infinite time.
Everything is god's fault, and he's having a thoroughly enjoyable time supervising everything from a safe distance away.( I haven't worked out how far a safe distance is yet ?
Best of luck from Cliff
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Post by Deimos »

brian livesey wrote:This is why some people take the view that, in one form or another, the Universe has always existed and always will.
In my simplistic view of things (where yesterday happened before today and tomorrow is going to happen after today), the idea that the Universe has always existed (in some form) does solve any problems but rather introduced different problems from those associated with the Big Bang.

(In my simplistic understanding)
If the Universe has always existed that means it has existed for an infinite time. No matter how quickly time passes, if it has an infinite past then how have we ever arrived at today ? Like an object that is an infinite distance away moving towards you - no matter how fast it moves it will never arrive at you. Thus whilst the "what happened before the Big Bang ?" ceases to be an issue, other major questions seem to appear.

Ian
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Post by David Frydman »

There are many types of infinity.
Regards, David.
brian livesey
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Post by brian livesey »

If we regard Infinity as a continuum, why should there be a problem? It's the same with Zeno's paradox of the moving arrow.
Zeno reasoned that, if the arrow is at a particular point in its trajectory, how can it be moving?
The error Zeno made was to assume that motion occurs in "bits", but, if we regard motion as an unbroken continuum, the paradox is resolved. :D
brian
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