The Myth of the Beginning of Time
May 3, 2004 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Alright, ruling out the ice caps melting, meteors becoming crashed into us, the ozone layer leaving, and the sun exploding... we're definitely going to blow ourselves up figure out a way to transform ourselves into strings and plunge through a black whole into the next universe.
posted by MzB (5 comments total)
From the article:

"According to the scenario, the pre-bang universe was almost a perfect mirror image of the post-bang one. If the universe is eternal into the future, its contents thinning to a meager gruel, it is also eternal into the past. Infinitely long ago it was nearly empty, filled only with a tenuous, widely dispersed, chaotic gas of radiation and matter. The forces of nature, controlled by the dilaton field, were so feeble that particles in this gas barely interacted.

As time went on, the forces gained in strength and pulled matter together. Randomly, some regions accumulated matter at the expense of their surroundings. Eventually the density in these regions became so high that black holes started to form. Matter inside those regions was then cut off from the outside, breaking up the universe into disconnected pieces.

Inside a black hole, space and time swap roles. The center of the black hole is not a point in space but an instant in time. As the infalling matter approached the center, it reached higher and higher densities. But when the density, temperature and curvature reached the maximum values allowed by string theory, these quantities bounced and started decreasing. The moment of that reversal is what we call a big bang. The interior of one of those black holes became our universe."
"The other leading model for the universe before the bang is the ekpyrotic ("conflagration") scenario. Developed three years ago by a team of cosmologists and string theorists--Justin Khoury of Columbia University, Paul J. Steinhardt of Princeton University, Burt A. Ovrut of the University of Pennsylvania, Nathan Seiberg of the Institute for Advanced Study and Neil Turok of the University of Cambridge--the ekpyrotic scenario relies on the idea that our universe is one of many D-branes floating within a higher-dimensional space. The branes exert attractive forces on one another and occasionally collide. The big bang could be the impact of another brane into ours.

In a variant of this scenario, the collisions occur cyclically. Two branes might hit, bounce off each other, move apart, pull each other together, hit again, and so on. In between collisions, the branes behave like Silly Putty, expanding as they recede and contracting somewhat as they come back together. During the turnaround, the expansion rate accelerates; indeed, the present accelerating expansion of the universe may augur another collision."
posted by MzB at 10:33 AM on May 3, 2004

I'd rather be quantum foam, then I'd be part of all the universes in the multiverse, and truly be the ALL BEING, master of time space and dimension!

I love cosmology!

Oh, and Alaska can come too.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:44 AM on May 3, 2004

Some of the more interesting ideas I've heard about the formation of the universe/multiverse/whatever involve (a) evolution and (b) determination. In the evolution idea, every universe begins as a black hole in an earlier universe, with slight variance of the fundamental constants (like alpha, for example). Universes that are more likely to produce black holes propagate, creating more and more black holes, just like evolution is designed to carry on a lifeform's genes. It's a little out there, but not nearly as out there as this:

The idea is that the universe didn't exist at all until life had evolved to see it. Since quantum states don't decohere without an observer, the earliest states of the unvierse don't exist until we (or some other intelligence) looks back far enough to see it. So, by this theory, the whole universe is a big feedback loop. I don't really buy it (there are, in theory, other ways for particles to decohere) but it's interesting nonetheless.

By the way, MzB: I really hope that "Black whole" wasn't a typo. Because it's brilliant.
posted by thecaddy at 10:46 AM on May 3, 2004

Murphy: Avoid accidents. Do everything on purpose!
You know, like Anthropic Principle.
posted by MzB at 11:09 AM on May 3, 2004

It's all me.
posted by troutfishing at 1:44 PM on May 3, 2004

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