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What Came 'Before' the Big Bang? Leading Physicists Present a Radical Theory

Galaxy-iphone-wallpaper String theorists Neil Turok of Cambridge University and Paul Steinhardt, Albert Einstein Professor in Science and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton believe that the cosmos we live in was actually created by the cyclical trillion-year collision of two universes (which they define as three-dimensional branes plus time) that were attracted toward each other by the leaking of gravity out of one of the universes. 

In their view of the universe the complexities of an inflating universe after a Big Bang are replaced by a universe that was already large. flat, and uniform with dark energy as the effect of the other universe constantly leaking gravity into our own and driving its acceleration. According to this theory, the Big Bang was not the beginning of time but the bridge to a past filled with endlessly repeating cycles of evolution, each accompanied by the creation of new matter and the formation of new galaxies, stars, and planets. 

Turok and Steinhardt were inspired by a lecture given by Burt Ovrut who imagined two branes, universes like ours, separated by a tiny gap as tiny as 10-32 meters. There would be no communictaion between the two universes except for our parallel sister universe's gravitational pull, which could cross the tiny gap. 

Orvut's theory could explain the effect of dark matter where areas of the universe are heavier than they should be given everything that's present. With their theory, the nagging problems surrounding the Big Bang (beginning from what, and caused how?) are replaced by an eternal cosmic cycle where dark energy is no longer a mysterious unknown quantity, but rather the very extra gravitational force that drives the universe to universe (brane-brane) interaction. 

Casey Kazan 





The theory of universes made of strings and branes is exciting, however for me to understand the concept 'before the big-bang' is 'somewhat difficult' since the time we are related to did not exist at all.
I understand great math based theories and I appreciate that even in the simple model of the big-bang there are quite few unknowns and unexplained issues , BUT...the string theory is not really easily related to normal brains and reasoning.

Good math and theory and equations....regards

to me this is just another weak theory. understanding the big bang is very unimportant for the human race at this point (and probably any point in the future). We don't even understand ourselves or the world we live on completley. We specially dont understand our solar system. So why do scientists think they can understand how the universe started? Let me give them a big clue, GOD started the universe. And I want to see anyone prove me wrong.

To the anonymous commenter who posted as "me" -

It's far easier to prove that something exists than to prove that it doesn't. In fact it is nearly impossible to prove the nonexistence of anything, in particular a vague, invisible entity.

The burden of proof, therefore, is on you.

I totally agree with "Me" about GOD starting it all, I just can't figure out which one. There are so many to chose from. You think that they all worked in unison, or one of them one day was bored and decided to stop playing with the other GODs and start playing with matter and the rest of non-GODly stuff?

I am pretty sure that Thor working with Zeus and Shiva created the universe. Hey "Me" I know that you approve of that theory, because three GODS are better than one GOD.

And for all the non-nut jobs out there. This article seems very interesting.

So, is this a veiled return to the oscillating universe theory, or a modified version of it?

Roger Penrose is writing a book which is sceptical of this type of science for some reason.

I think "me" is a troll, more specifically a Poe. (See )

Interesting theory, even more so if there is some way it can be proven or falsified. Shouldn't be too hard, I seem to recall that there are some experiments in the planning to test whether there may be another universe, or other spacial dimensions, close to our own.

I do wonder, though, if gravitational energy is really the only thing that can leak between these universes/dimensions. I would think that quantum tunneling would allow other forms of energy, or even particles, to dive from one to the other.

Man I love science!

Where does it all come from? That's an age-old and universal question. It's also difficult for us to understand and accept. Whether or not you believe in God, the Big Bang, or any other theory, we are indeed alive, sentient, and experiencing our existance.
We can say that we came from "X", but then where did "X" come from? We could spend an eternity looking back and forth. How do you find the beginning of eternity, or the end of it? For me to understand this is beyond me. I can express it mathematicly, as y being eternity (y+1=y), but even there it does not make sense.
There was something before the things we know as truth. There was something before that something as well. It has and will allways be, I think. That to me, is what eternity is all about, but there are smarter minds than mine stumbling over the same question.
I believe in God, our creator, and creator of all things. Not the kind of God depicted in religious attitudes, a supreme being that lives seperate from all, but the actual existance of all things. To me the concept of God is all things you can see, imagine, experience, or calculate. God, in fact, is the only thing that truly exists.

What's up with all these pre concieved notions on my belief? I believe in one GOD, and have good reasons to. I do partly agree with you george B. GOD is everything. And to kelly yeah youre right, i was wrong to challenge. But how is saying that 2 universes created this one any better? You will still have to explain where the others came from. I will tell you now that the so called 'universe' is infinite and it's clear that there is a creator. Otherwise the probablity of this universe randomly occuring is far too great to be even considered a possibility. Humans could become more advanced of themselves and in thoeries if they understood true GOD. If only you knew the truth...

Me...ssh! You are starting to sound silly. I don't understand 'brane theory' either but I also don't profess to "Know the truth" as you put it. Be quiet and maybe some of the reasoning of great minds will filter into yours.

lol okay youre right. but let me ask you, where would science be without philosophy? i wouldnt say i know 'the truth', but i do know atleast a truth among many. let me put it this way, the universe is hard to understand because we are the created and not the creators. man kind will evolve as we understand and become more like the creator. if there is only one thing i can get all of you to understand is that we are a creation of the 'creator' and non of us are better, more rightoues, or more well minded than the creator. if any of you have a belief that counters and makes more sense than the last thing i said, please share.

"Me", you are speaking of an absolute reasoned by probability. That logic doesn't hold up. You might say there probably is a God, but to say definitively that there is one with that evidence is faulty.

God is an inherently non-scientific entity. Science such as this would exist outside of him, not proving or disproving him. If you believe in God, this would be the means to his end. If you don't, then this all happened randomly and naturally without any external catalyst. It's a matter of personal philosophy.

As for the article itself, interesting theory, good food for thought.

Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton both believed in GOD. Modern physics and science would not exists without these men. Isaac Newton even believed that his faith in GOD helped him to figure out science. How can you tell me that GOD does not apply to science and vice versa.

The idea of a "god" or powerful force guiding our universe is not an absurd idea at all. The fact of the matter is, the universe is not random. Sure, things (matter) randomly come together and stuff like that, but what makes them come randomly together (gravity) is in fact very consistent and not random at all.

Our universe is full of consistent laws and physics. The fact that there can be a explanation for everything shows us just how much order exist in our Cosmos. Order (laws) implies the existence of a lawmaker.

What DOES sound absurd though is organized religion. Jesus, Buddha, Allah and others are just the works of fairy tales and folklore. THAT is what is absurd.

"I find it elevating, and exhilarating, to discover that we live in a universe, that permits the evolution of molecular machines as intricate and subtle... as we." - Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan demonstrated the point pretty clear (to those that know how Sagan thinks) in his novel/movie: Contact. Those that DON'T know how Sagan thinks will have seen Jodie Foster talking to an alien near the end of the movie. To those that DO know how Sagan thinks will have seen Arroway (J. Foster's role) talking with GOD near the end of the movie.

Science is our understanding, our observations of the universe. If there is one thing we have observed with utmost certainty it's that the laws of nature exist consistently throughout the cosmos.

In a fairly well writen book, Robert Sawyer in "Calculating God" presents an arguement that if God exists it must be because God was an emergent effect of the universe's creation. Like the concept of an Abramic deity, it really is beyond scientific proof or refutation. The religious can put up all the straw men arguments they want but I feel these concepts would be easier to deal with if I only had a brane.


I am not a religious person. Never had been either. God in my mind is whatever force created the universe and not much of a deity or being. "God" could be one super star mass thing that just exploded and we are all pieces of god. I sincerely doubt "god" could be a man-like super being as depicted in organized religions such as the Abramic/Johavian/Adonian religions.

Light is the cosmic speed limit, gravity exist where ever matter does as it displaces time/space, energy converts to matter and matter converts to energy (nothing is wasted), and everything (every atom and sub-atomic particle) moves and vibrates, nothing rests.

Where mass thus gravity occurs on a large scale so does electromagnetism (light and magnetic fields). How convenient, eh? The universe was created with guiding principles and one can't help but wonder how it's all done but what we would really like to know is the motive behind it all if it even exists at all, or..... maybe existing IS the reason for it all.

I don't believe we should be mixing philosophy with science. That's when things start to spur into mysticism.

Sounds like a complex way to say that once everything collapsed into a central point due to gravity that it will just explode outward again. Sort of like the in and out breath of.... or "yin-yang". they have any PROOF of anything? even string theory itself is a physical aberration, it adds another dimension to space because it makes more sense to they weird, far-out (and it is far out also in mathematical science) desktop fantasies. String theory has been around for decades and has NIL, NADA, ZERO proof in the physical world to show for it. Show me proof. Otherwise keep it in the dungeons and dragons and fairytales section PLEASE.... Even GHOSTS have more valid real-world proof to back them up than string-theory. People have actually SEEN ghosts. Nobody has seen a string lol....Have they mentioned they need an additional X number of dimensions to make their theory work, where X is dependent on the flavour of string theory the guy publishing adheres to....

Really, string theory has a place in philosophy and mathematics (perhaps..), NOT in any science thats is supposed to be harder than a wet sandwich....

"According to this theory, the Big Bang was not the beginning of time but the bridge to a past filled with endlessly repeating cycles of evolution, each accompanied by the creation of new matter and the formation of new galaxies, stars, and planets." Interesting, but completely unsupported by any evidence. The Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago was real, and the expansion of the universe is still ongoing. Study the results of the WMAP Team at NASA. Before that there was no physical universe, no repeating cycles of evolution, no matter and no energy. Nevertheless, there is a sense in which the phrase 'the time before the Big Bang' may be meaningful. But not from the vantage of the cosmos or any of the living worlds within it. What is that sense? And from what point of view?

Why does every interesting article on this site become a science vs religion debate? It is really boring already. I believe in a healthy balance between science and spirituality but fighting that it is only one way or another is very simple minded and ignorant. Come on this is supposed to be intellectuals discussing interesting theories and I'd much rather here your thoughts on the article. Also I find it funny when people comment with such absoluteness about nothing existing before the big bang or the creator that created us, like you have a clue. No one has any proof either way. All the math in the world still could not prove this, nor does the bible. All we have is theory and hope that one day we will have real proof. Until then i would be a little more humble either way because no one really knows anything.

Maybe, science brings us closer to understanding how God(s) works. I don't think this article is discussing 'who' in as much as 'how' the universe was made.

~regards, Lucifer.


If you believe SO MUCH in God, then why do you spell His Name with a small 'g'? I don't believe, BUT I AT LEAST HAVE RESPECT FOR THE CONCEPT! It's a shame that we as a peoples (the world) have so many religions and practices and run around praising His name and then fly airplanes into high-rise buildings, blow up mosques and threaten neighboring countries ALL IN THE NAME OF GOD!

Haiti had an earthquake a few weeks ago and what sickens me about that were the comments made by one of this country's religious leaders about that disaster:Pat Robertson (for more info, go to:
[ Robertson] and then scroll down to "Robertson's Ramblings".) After you've read it, you tell me if you agree with him or not and if you do agree, then you will have proven to me that God, in your eyes, really does not exist.

For that matter, whatever happened to that Compassionate Being, The God who Loves His creation? Do you believe that God allowed for this disaster? But, I guess, for the weaker-minded people, it's still easier to say that the ' is ruled by the greater light and the night by the lesser light.' BREAK FREE OF THAT YOLK AND OPEN YOUR MIND!!!

It is an interesting debate. It is the ego of science v/s spirituality. The former is just few hundred years old while the latter is far more older, as it started with the philosophy and purpose of human life on the Earth. i still recollect the measurements done using 'reliable' scientific instruments on the mineral contents on the moon. When the man himself collected the samples from there and used the same instruments, the picture got revised, beyond the instrumental errors. Thus , both theory and experiments in science always have scope of revision, beyond what the scientists considered reasonably rational and correct at some earlier time. I am for science and technology but i wish to emphasize that there is no way the humans can reach the final truth about an issue. Science works out better and better relative truths and it has definitely contributed to technologies that have helped make life comfortable on earth. However, we also note increasing psychological problems that we face. There is no world war but there is far more increasing violence than ever existed in the past in the lives of common man. There are increasing tensions, anxieties and depressions that covers individuals now, in spite of apparent comfort and material richness in their lives. What is going wrong? It is the falling standards of universal humanity and the weakening of values, integrity and character. Individuals are becoming dangerously selfish which makes the community life poorer. Scientist too are a part of the society and their integrity is getting affected by quick publications without adequate consideration of the totality aspect. Thus science is becoming narrower in attitude than it used to be in the past. We are caring more for immediate gains (status/money/awards/self-satisfaction ) in comparison with long-term positive achievements, the quality of truth that is sought and selfless manner of working for a societal cause. It is well illustrated by the win of Barack Obama as President of USA, as he attempted to speak out of the desires of the common man of his country that earlier politicians had forgotten to conduct themselves by, leaving the golden rules of public honesty, integrity and values of life. In fact, all the countries of the world have suffered the similar fate as USA leads the world being the richest nation. Science and technology today badly requires a touch of universal humanity, with sincerity and sensitivity towards the problems of the poorest and deprived people anywhere in the world. Unless this is done, the increasing terror and dissatisfaction of common man will go beyond the limits of tolerance. Technology should not be given a free hand and be tempered with the requirements of the ordinary people first, rather than the fancies of a few individuals for their selfish ends and trends they wish to impose on the society through their power and / or status, misused for their selfish gratifications.

Interesting theory, and well worth contemplation and debate. The key is to continue exploring different concepts of "everything". Some ideas will stick to the wall and some won't, but pursuit of the knowledge is the primary goal (IMHO). One thing I would say for certain, is that the ultimate answer to existence will surely be more bizarre than anything we could possibly imagine. Branes cyclically leaking dark matter/gravity through small rips in the fabric of existence . . . why not? OTOH, the theory of "everything" is probably far less enticing than the theory of "where did everything come from in the first place."

the universe started with a singularity, right? and there is a singularity at the bottom of a black hole, right?................

Interesting idea, but it's probably too strong to say that Turok and Steinhardt "believe" it. It's an hypothesis they are putting forward, which now needs to be tested before anyone, including themselves, can believe it.

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