Big Bang

Ethan Siegel warns us against five myths about the Big Bang

Spread the love

This image represents the evolution of the Universe, starting with the Big Bang. The red arrow marks the flow of time.
Big Bang/NASA

For example, he considers the idea that the Big Bang was the beginning to be a myth:

5.) Space, time, and the laws of physics did not exist prior to the Big Bang. If you had reached a true singularity, or a place where you reached infinite densities and temperatures, the laws of physics would break down. In General Relativity, singularities are where spacetime can either enter or exit existence, and without spacetime, there are not even necessarily rules that govern the physical Universe that could exist within it.

But those laws must certainly have existed during the inflationary phase that set up the Big Bang itself. With the knowledge we have of inflation, and the observational confirmation of its predictions, however, new questions arise …

We don’t have sufficient information in our observable Universe to know whether time is finite or infinite; whether it’s cyclical or linear. But even before the Big Bang, we can be certain that space, time, and the laws of physics themselves definitely existed.

That’s 5 common Big Bang misconceptions, all thoroughly dispelled.

Ethan Siegel, “Don’t Believe These 5 Myths About The Big Bang” at Forbes

Siegel doesn’t really explain why we can be sure that space, time, and the laws of physics preexisted the Big Bang; the idea that they pre-existed has the effect of untethering them from the tiresome demand for evidence. But might that be part of the charm of the idea.


See also: Ethan Siegel asks at Forbes, did God create the universe

and

The Big Bang: Put simply,the facts are wrong.

8 Replies to “Ethan Siegel warns us against five myths about the Big Bang

  1. 1
    BobRyan says:

    Einstein’s cosmological constant was created at a time when he believed the universe was stationary. It was known as his biggest blunder and should have no bearing on answering questions about the universe, but it is used successfully. Hubble has discovered galaxies that are too new, which means they should not exist at all.

    Big Bang did answer a lot of questions from what we knew of the universe at the time. It is time to accept a new theory is needed. New observations require new ideas.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    In both points 4 and 5 of his article, where he argues against a absolute beginning for the universe, Siegel relies heavily on the inflationary model. Yet the inflationary model is not nearly as well established as Siegel seems to believe.

    For instance,

    Cosmic inflation is dead, long live cosmic inflation – 25 September 2014
    Excerpt: (Inflation) theory, the most widely held of cosmological ideas about the growth of our universe after the big bang, explains a number of mysteries, including why the universe is surprisingly flat and so smoothly distributed, or homogeneous,,,
    Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, who helped develop inflationary theory but is now scathing of it, says this is potentially a blow for the theory, but that it pales in significance with inflation’s other problems.
    Meet the multiverse
    Steinhardt says the idea that inflationary theory produces any observable predictions at all – even those potentially tested by BICEP2 – is based on a simplification of the theory that simply does not hold true.
    “The deeper problem is that once inflation starts, it doesn’t end the way these simplistic calculations suggest,” he says. “Instead, due to quantum physics it leads to a multiverse where the universe breaks up into an infinite number of patches. The patches explore all conceivable properties as you go from patch to patch. So that means it doesn’t make any sense to say what inflation predicts, except to say it predicts everything. If it’s physically possible, then it happens in the multiverse someplace
    Steinhardt says the point of inflation was to explain a remarkably simple universe. “So the last thing in the world you should be doing is introducing a multiverse of possibilities to explain such a simple thing,” he says. “I think it’s telling us in the clearest possible terms that we should be able to understand this and when we understand it it’s going to come in a model that is extremely simple and compelling. And we thought inflation was it – but it isn’t.”
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....CajrGl0y00

    Pop Goes The Universe – Scientific American – January 2017 – Anna Ijjas, Paul J. Steinhardt and Abraham Loeb
    Excerpt: “If anything, the Planck data disfavored the simplest inflation models and exacerbated long-standing foundational problems with the theory, providing new reasons to consider competing ideas about the origin and evolution of the universe… (i)n the years since, more precise data gathered by the Planck satellite and other instruments have made the case only stronger……The Planck satellite results—a combination of an unexpectedly small (few percent) deviation from perfect scale invariance in the pattern of hot and colds spots in the CMB and the failure to detect cosmic gravitational waves—are stunning. For the first time in more than 30 years, the simplest inflationary models, including those described in standard textbooks, are strongly disfavored by observations.”
    “Two improbable criteria have to be satisfied for inflation to start. First, shortly after the big bang, there has to be a patch of space where the quantum fluctuations of spacetime have died down and the space is well described by Einstein’s classical equations of general relativity; second, the patch of space must be flat enough and have a smooth enough distribution of energy that the inflation energy can grow to dominate all other forms of energy. Several theoretical estimates of the probability of finding a patch with these characteristics just after the big bang suggest that it is more difficult than finding a snowy mountain equipped with a ski lift and well-maintained ski slopes in the middle of a desert.”
    “More important, if it were easy to find a patch emerging from the big bang that is flat and smooth enough to start inflation, then inflation would not be needed in the first place. Recall that the entire motivation for introducing it was to explain how the visible universe came to have these properties; if starting inflation requires those same properties, with the only difference being that a smaller patch of space is needed, that is hardly progress.”
    “…inflation continues eternally, generating an infinite number of patches where inflation has ended, each creating a universe unto itself…(t)he worrisome implication is that the cosmological properties of each patch differ because of the inherent randomizing effect of quantum fluctuations…The result is what cosmologists call the multiverse. Because every patch can have any physically conceivable properties, the multiverse does not explain why our universe has the very special conditions that we observe—they are purely accidental features of our particular patch.”
    “We would like to suggest “multimess” as a more apt term to describe the unresolved outcome of eternal inflation, whether it consists of an infinite multitude of patches with randomly distributed properties or a quantum mess. From our perspective, it makes no difference which description is correct. Either way, the multimess does not predict the properties of our observable universe to be the likely outcome. A good scientific theory is supposed to explain why what we observe happens instead of something else. The multimess fails this fundamental test.”
    https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~loeb/sciam3.pdf

    “Historically, the thinking about inflation was based on a series of misunderstandings. It was not understood that the outcome of inflation is highly sensitive to initial conditions. And it was not understood that inflation generically leads to eternal inflation and, consequently, a multiverse—an infinite diversity of outcomes. Papers claiming that inflation predicts this or that ignore these problems.
    Our point is that we should be talking about the contemporary version of inflation, warts and all, not some defunct relic. Logically, if the outcome of inflation is highly sensitive to initial conditions that are not yet understood, as the respondents concede, the outcome cannot be determined. And if inflation produces a multiverse in which, to quote a previous statement from one of the responding authors (Guth), “anything that can happen will happen”—it makes no sense whatsoever to talk about predictions. Unlike the Standard Model, even after fixing all the parameters, any inflationary model gives an infinite diversity of outcomes with none preferred over any other. This makes inflation immune from any observational test.”
    – Anna Ijjas, Paul J. Steinhardt and Abraham Loeb
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/a-cosmic-controversy/#reply

    Planck reveals an almost perfect Universe (Disconfirms inflationary models) – video
    Quote at 2:00 minute mark: “What’s surprising in Planck’s latest findings and is inconsistent with prevailing theories, is the presence of unexpected large scale anomalies in the sky. Including a large cold region. Stronger fluctuations in one half of the sky than the other. And less light signals than expected across the entire sky.”
    Planck spokesman: “When we look at only the large features on this (CMBR) map you find that our find that our best fitting theory (inflation) has a problem fitting the data.”
    “Planck launched in 2009,, is the 3rd mission to study the Cosmic Microwave Background to date. While these unusual features in the sky were hinted at the two previous US missions, COBE and WMAP, Planck’s ability to measure the tiniest of fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background has made these so called anomalies impossible to ignore.”
    Planck spokesman: “Because of these features that we are finding in the sky, people really are in a situation now where they cannot ignore them any more. ,,, We’ve established them (the anomalies) as fact!”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2CWaLU6eMI

    On top of that, Alexander Vilenkin developed a mathematical proof that proved “past-eternal inflation is impossible without a beginning.”

    “The conclusion is that past-eternal inflation is impossible without a beginning.”
    Alexander Vilenkin – from pg. 35 ‘New Proofs for the Existence of God’ by Robert J. Spitzer

    The Beginning of the Universe – Alexander Vilenkin – 2015
    Excerpt: Loosely speaking, our theorem states that if the universe is, on average, expanding, then its history cannot be indefinitely continued into the past. More precisely, if the average expansion rate is positive along a given world line, or geodesic, then this geodesic must terminate after a finite amount of time.
    https://inference-review.com/article/the-beginning-of-the-universe

    Moreover, Arkani-Hamed’s amplituhedron itself “challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.,,,”

    A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics – September 17, 2013
    the amplituhedron, a newly discovered mathematical object resembling a multifaceted jewel in higher dimensions. Encoded in its volume are the most basic features of reality that can be calculated — the probabilities of outcomes of particle interactions.,,,
    Excerpt: Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.,,,
    Beyond making calculations easier or possibly leading the way to quantum gravity, the discovery of the amplituhedron could cause an even more profound shift, Arkani-Hamed said. That is, giving up space and time as fundamental constituents of nature and figuring out how the Big Bang and cosmological evolution of the universe arose out of pure geometry.
    “In a sense, we would see that change arises from the structure of the object,” he said. “But it’s not from the object changing. The object is basically timeless.”
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/20130917-a-jewel-at-the-heart-of-quantum-physics/

    Quantum mechanics itself is even more antagonistic to Siegel’s belief that time and space must have ‘definitely existed’ before the big bang than Arkani-Hamed’s amplituhedron is.

    As the following article states, ” space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, without a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must explain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamentally spaceless and timeless physics.”

    LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD – Vlatko Vedral – 2011
    Excerpt: experiments now leave very little room for such processes to operate. The division between the quantum and classical worlds appears not to be fundamental. It is just a question of experimental ingenuity, and few physicists now think that classical physics will ever really make a comeback at any scale.,,,
    Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, without a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must explain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamentally spaceless and timeless physics.
    http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchan.....611038.pdf

    And as the following article states, “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    Atheistic Naturalists simply have no beyond space and time cause to appeal so as to explain quantum entanglement, whereas Christians have always postulated a beyond space and time cause for why “all things hold together.”

    Colossians 1:17
    He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Besides quantum entanglement itself falsifying Siegel’s belief that time and space are fundamental, the fairly recent falsification of ‘realism’ by quantum mechanics makes matters even worse for Siegel’s belief that space and time must be fundamental.

    As the following article states, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness – May 27, 2015
    Excerpt: The bizarre nature of reality as laid out by quantum theory has survived another test, with scientists performing a famous experiment and proving that reality does not exist until it is measured.
    Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have conducted John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, which involves a moving object that is given the choice to act like a particle or a wave. Wheeler’s experiment then asks – at which point does the object decide?
    Common sense says the object is either wave-like or particle-like, independent of how we measure it. But quantum physics predicts that whether you observe wave like behavior (interference) or particle behavior (no interference) depends only on how it is actually measured at the end of its journey. This is exactly what the ANU team found.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said Associate Professor Andrew Truscott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    Despite the apparent weirdness, the results confirm the validity of quantum theory, which,, has enabled the development of many technologies such as LEDs, lasers and computer chips.
    The ANU team not only succeeded in building the experiment, which seemed nearly impossible when it was proposed in 1978, but reversed Wheeler’s original concept of light beams being bounced by mirrors, and instead used atoms scattered by laser light.
    “Quantum physics’ predictions about interference seem odd enough when applied to light, which seems more like a wave, but to have done the experiment with atoms, which are complicated things that have mass and interact with electric fields and so on, adds to the weirdness,” said Roman Khakimov, PhD student at the Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-q.....dness.html

    And as the following article states, “Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.”

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell’s inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell’s inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.
    Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.
    They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    In fact, instead of space and time being fundamental as Siegal wants to believe, there are many more lines of evidence from quantum mechanics, that can be added to the preceding lines of evidence, that show us that consciousness itself must be the fundamental thing that precedes material reality.

    Eight intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Double Slit experiment, Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, as well as the recent confirmation of the Wigner’s friend thought experiment, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect, Quantum Information theory, and the recent closing of the Free Will loophole.)

    Putting all the lines of evidence together the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    And although each of those (eight) experiments are very interesting in their own right as to proving that the Mind of God must precede material reality, my favorite evidences out of that group, for proving that the Mind of God must be behind the creation of the universe itself, is the Quantum Zeno effect and Quantum Information theory. This is because the Quantum Zeno effect and Quantum Information theory deal directly with entropy. And, entropy is, by a VERY wide margin, the most finely tuned of the initial conditions of the Big Bang. Finely tuned to an almost incomprehensible degree of precision, 1 part in 10 to the 10 to the 123rd power. As Roger Penrose himself stated that, “This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.”
    https://uncommondescent.com/big-bang/sabine-hossenfelder-physicists-theories-of-how-the-universe-began-arent-any-better-than-traditional-tales-of-creation/#comment-690210

    Supplemental note:

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f0hL3Nrdas

  4. 4
    groovamos says:

    I get a kick out of the High Priests of Reality known as Ph.D’s who are naturally wanting to teach us all about their unfalsifiable, untestable beliefs which of course they are committed to philosophically even when they don’t believe philosophy is real (e.g. Stephen Hawking). And of course all us lesser beings must have our philosophical “misconceptions, all thoroughly dispelled”. Apparently including the belief that philosophy can contribute to this idea that time can exist INDEPENDENTLY of the existence of nature. And maybe they can even dispell philosophy for good and the way to do it is with Science Fantasy as in this Forbes piece.

  5. 5
    groovamos says:

    I get a kick out of the High Priests of Reality known as Ph.D’s who are naturally wanting to teach us all about their unfalsifiable, untestable beliefs which of course they are committed to philosophically even when they don’t believe philosophy is real (e.g. Stephen Hawking). And of course all us lesser beings must have our philosophical “misconceptions, all thoroughly dispelled”. Apparently including the belief that philosophy can contribute to this idea that time can exist INDEPENDENTLY of the existence of nature without conflict with the Einstein General Theory. And maybe they can even dispell philosophy for good and the way to do it is with Science Fantasy as in this Forbes piece.

  6. 6
    Truthfreedom says:

    @4 Groovamos

    And of course all us lesser beings must have our philosophical “misconceptions, all thoroughly dispelled”.

    What would we do without them? Specially knowing that they know nothing about philosophy and can not even understand the most basic laws of identity and non-contradiction? 🙂
    We poor “ignorant and gullible peasants”.

    Science Fantasy

    Shh, maybe the “peasants” won’t notice. They are always stunned when you use the term “science”.
    We serious thinkers speak about typewriting monkeys, and hallucinations and flying teapots.

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    Your thrust of your post #4, Groovamus, put me in mind of Chesterton’s apercu : “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” As do virtually all atheists given to speculating on the fundamental nature of our world and our existence in it.

    Since with the Shroud of Turin, the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the requirement of exactly a trillionth of a trillionth of the light spectrum for the creation and life, wouldn’t ‘post-science’ be a more apt nomenclature than ‘post-truth’. Help ! I’m plungng into classical scientism !

  8. 8
    Pearlman says:

    Per Pearlman’s SPIRAL cosmological Redshift Hypothesis and Model:

    Three pillars of The Big Bang (SCM-LCDM) that can/do align with all the empirical observations..
    The universe had a start.
    The universe started in a hyper-dense space.
    The universe was subjected to hyper cosmic-expansion (see SPIRAL’s ‘magnetic repulsion hypothesis’). as attested to by CMB and CR
    Ten revisions of SCM-LCDM ‘The’ Big Bang current consensus to understand the higher probability explanation of the empirical observations:
    The Copernican Principle premise of Modern Cosmology is flawed. We have a vastly preferable view of the entire universe compared to any other distant view point. (see SPIRAL’s MVP hypothesis.)
    The Prevalent Cosmological Redshift (CR) of distant starlight, and increase of that CR w/ distance, is predicted if SPIRAL (rather than reacted to if SCM) and attests to past, not ongoing, cosmic expansion. (see SPIRAL vs Hubble)
    There is no valid reason for the required dark energy fudge factor required for SCM-LCDM to have a chance to be valid to exist
    There is no valid reason for the required dark matter fudge factor required for SCM-LCDM to have a chance to be valid to exist.
    The visible universe approximates the entire universe, and ‘normal matter’ accounts for about 100% of matter.(not 5% if SCM).
    We are at the approximate center of the visible, thus entire universe.The universe is an approx. sphere, not ‘flat’ on the surface.
    Take into account SPIRAL’s ‘black-hole illusion resolution’ where we find ‘black-holes’ at galactic centers are attest to SPIRAL as evidence of past, not ongoing, hyper-density.
    Light speed limited to ‘c’ standard light speed, attests to the years elapsed subsequent to the cosmic inflation expansion epoch being ‘thousands not billions’ of years ago..
    Just as w/ CMB all distant starlight over x LY departs from approximately the same LY radius from us. (x capped at about 5M but can aligns w/ 6k,)
    Take into account SPIRAL’s ‘cosmic blue-shift offset’ when measuring the overall increase in CR w/ distance of the prevalent CR of distant starlight.for the cosmic distance ladder.. also see SPIRAL on parallax.

    once studied, fairly considered and disseminated SPIRAL should replace SCM-LCDM as the new standard cosmological model. See how the two competing hypotheses match up on several issues at:
    SPIRAL vs SCM info-graphic: http://www.academia.edu/36013854

    Reference / references in, Volume II of the YeC Moshe Emes series for Torah and science alignment.

Leave a Reply