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What happened before the big bang?
This is a frustrating question because first, it presumes that just because we know there was a big bang, we understand it back to t=0 or 'before'. This is like presuming evolutionary biology can explain the origin of life itself, which it cannot, since we need to know chemistry and the conditions of the early earth to address it. Similarly, we simply don't have a physical theory that works back to t=0 so we cannot answer the question. But more than that, all of our current ideas suggest, alas, that it isn't a good question!
Saying that always frustrates the listener, but science often tells us that naive questions aren't good questions because they make presumptions that are unwarranted. Because space and time are coupled to matter and energy in general relativity, it is eminently plausible that if space spontaneously popped into existence, so did time. Namely, time and space are both classical concepts that may have a limited domain of validity, and so the question what was 'before the big bang" may simply be a bad question because there was no 'before'! Time didn't exist.
That answer of course makes no one happy, but it may be true. As I often say, the business of the universe is not to make you happy.
Lawrence M. Krauss
Physicist/Cosmologist, ASU; Author, A Universe from Nothing
> "On the other hand about half the question/answers here have gone afield from '[Y]our field should have an answer (people think you do) but there isn't one yet. Perhaps it's simple to pose but hard to answer.'"
Mr. Bad Example: "Have you heard of this idea that Shakespeare didn't really write all those plays?"
Renoroc: Are you ever sexually aroused while performing autopsies?
Are you ever sexually aroused while performing autopsies?
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