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Cosmology 101: The Beginning - Comments

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 1 by Vorlund

Fascinating stuff! Hard to articulate what this is like, concepts of no matter, no space and no time are very difficult to grasp for beings evolved in 3 dimensional space with a concept of the passage of time which is very slow but virtually instantaneous against the time scale of the universe. Awesome! Truly Awesome! More fantastic, more wonderful than any religion has ever foretold.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 15:15:04 UTC | #592724

Brother 2/5 Brooke 's Avatar Comment 2 by Brother 2/5 Brooke

Why would such a relatively unknown particle as man, care if he is part of an atom from an old unstable mixture, or one from a more noble element ? Whatever it was and however big the expansion of it's disintegration is through time imagined to be, it seems to have left an indelible mark on every living mind. Why is that?

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 15:42:41 UTC | #592729

dbmartin's Avatar Comment 3 by dbmartin

"...when our universe was born, there was no space. There was no time either. There was no vacuum. There was literally nothing.

This statement does not seem to fit well with the multiverse idea? When their universes were born, did they also have no space or time. Did our universe encroach on their literal nothing, if theirs occured after ours? Did their universe encroach on our literal nothing, if theirs occured before ours?

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 15:43:46 UTC | #592730

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 4 by sunbeamforjeebus

You mean the universe wasn't created by God at 6pm on 23rd of october 4004 B.C.? What have I based my whole moral belief system on?

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 15:44:45 UTC | #592731

locutus7's Avatar Comment 5 by locutus7

I found the comments to the full article interesting as well. My own minor quibble is with breathless adjectives words like "unfathomable" and "inconceivably" being used in a science article, even one targeting a popular audience. But that is my own bias.

I wonder, is there any observational evidence for inflation? I get that it explains a large, homogenious, isotropic universe, but could there be other explanations as well? And can we test for inflation?

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 15:51:57 UTC | #592732

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 6 by rrh1306

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/mar/HQ_06097_first_trillionth_WMAP.html

The wmap doesn't definitively prove inflation. But alot of the predictions that were made by inflationary theory are shown to be true by the information. That's just one link. There's lots of info out there on the wmap findings.

Comment 5 by locutus7 :

And can we test for inflation?

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 16:03:08 UTC | #592737

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 7 by Steve Zara

This statement does not seem to fit well with the multiverse idea?

It doesn't fit well with any idea. "Literally nothing" does not make sense, as nothing is just a reading on a guage, a position on a scale.

This article is putting forward certain interpretations of the beginning as if they were settled views. Far from it.

The best way to think about the beginning is relatively simple: We just don't know. The problem is this - that if we get very close to the very beginning, space and time don't so much vanish as lose their common meaning. The quantum weirdness that we have become used to with things like atoms then apply to everything, including space and time.

This may be a point beyond which we can't easily go, because it doesn't make much sense to talk about going anywhere. Or, it may be that we can get past that point but only in the form of mathematics that is hard to interpret.

Perhaps it's best, for now, to remain silent. It's certainly not wise to talk, as this article does, of sureness about nothingness.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 16:13:15 UTC | #592738

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 8 by rrh1306

I agree.

Comment 7 by Steve Zara :

It's certainly not wise to talk, as this article does, of sureness about nothingness.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 16:21:31 UTC | #592740

Brother 2/5 Brooke 's Avatar Comment 9 by Brother 2/5 Brooke

The human machine runs on time. Take the time away and the mind, rational or otherwise, stops thinking. But that doesn't rule out other machines that may not run the same. We just can't imagine them because we are human.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 16:44:36 UTC | #592745

phodopus's Avatar Comment 10 by phodopus

The notion of an explosion brings to mind an expanding tide of material, gradually filling the space around it; however, when our universe was born, there was no space. There was no time either. There was no vacuum. There was literally nothing.

One question: How do you know?

(Hint: You don't). This is a really crappy science article. Maybe it can serve as an inspirational text, but this gives cosmology a bad, pseudo-religious name and is so easy to attack by opponents. Stick to the science!!!

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 18:06:54 UTC | #592758

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 11 by Mr DArcy

If there was "literally nothing", presumably there was no room for a Jewish carpenter?

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 18:42:01 UTC | #592767

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 12 by bendigeidfran

Comment 9 by Brother 2/5 Brooke

I can imagine them.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 18:55:26 UTC | #592771

Rawhard Dickins's Avatar Comment 13 by Rawhard Dickins

DArcy ... LOL!

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 18:59:32 UTC | #592773

locutus7's Avatar Comment 14 by locutus7

Actually, there is a Nothing. Nothing is value of apologists' god arguments. Maybe less than nothing. Or the square root of -1. Okay, I'm veering WAY off topic.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 19:54:32 UTC | #592783

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 15 by Cook@Tahiti

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded - Terry Pratchett

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 21:18:46 UTC | #592792

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 16 by rrh1306

I'd recommend for anyone who's interested 'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss . He gives a lecture on it you can find on youtube. And it's pretty interesting stuff.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 21:35:52 UTC | #592796

phodopus's Avatar Comment 17 by phodopus

And it's pretty interesting stuff.

And pretty no-BS

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 22:24:26 UTC | #592807

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 18 by Alan4discussion

I suppose if anyone is doing AQA GCSE Astronomy they may need to debate the controversy of the Big Bang.

Did God just spill too much phlogiston into the recipe? Explain why the AQA theory might recognise this source of heat and compare alternative theories.

Explain why the Earth was created first, which celestial bodies fit onto which celestial spheres and suggest reasons why the "global Earth" theory was only gradually accepted.!

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 22:47:50 UTC | #592809

robaylesbury's Avatar Comment 19 by robaylesbury

Try as I might, I really struggle to grasp the concept of nothing.

Thu, 17 Feb 2011 23:18:52 UTC | #592820

Wendy Farts On Her Bible's Avatar Comment 20 by Wendy Farts On Her Bible

Comment 11 by Mr DArcy

If there was "literally nothing", presumably there was no room for a Jewish carpenter?

Nope.

Not even for his diaper.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 00:15:50 UTC | #592836

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 21 by Alan4discussion

Comment 19 by robaylesbury

Try as I might, I really struggle to grasp the concept of nothing.

Just think of the concept of cosmology, - as found between a Young Earth Creationist's ears!

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 00:38:46 UTC | #592842

Wendy Farts On Her Bible's Avatar Comment 22 by Wendy Farts On Her Bible

God, I love shit like this!

The Big Bang; Black Holes; Dark Matter; The Multiverse. It makes you wonder. It really does.

I mean, when the Jewish carpenter fed the Five Thousand where did all of the extra loaves and fishes come from? Did they just spring into existence out of nothing - like our Universe seems to have done? And where did Lazarus go when he died? A Parallel Universe? A Black Hole? Nowhere? I think it would have been extremely interesting to put that question to Lazarus after he came back to life. Sadly, none of his contemporaries thought so. At any rate, if this question was put to Lazarus then the Gospel writers felt that his response wasn’t worth recording. And what about the diaper worn by the Jewish carpenter? How are we to account for it? String Theory? Or could Dark Matter lie at the bottom of it?

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 01:42:11 UTC | #592848

Janus's Avatar Comment 23 by Janus

"There was no time either. There was no vacuum. There was literally nothing.

Then the universe was born."

The first or the second line has to be false.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 04:20:53 UTC | #592875

Misfire's Avatar Comment 24 by Misfire

Awesome.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 04:54:10 UTC | #592877

rjohn19's Avatar Comment 25 by rjohn19

Thank you Mr. Zara.

I realize there are counterintuitive things in this universe that are absolutely true but at some point along the scale of counterituitivity (if that's a word, I'll eat my shorts), an idea must be pushed off the edge of the flat earth and discarded.

"Something from nothing" headlines that catagory. It is one of those notions that one day, perhaps a hundred years from now, will be viewed in the same light as the flat earth. There is nothing I despise more in theoretical physicists as much as egocentric certainty. This notion will be relegated to the "We used to think, but now we know..." scrapyard.

And the worst thing this erroneous notion does is feed the theists one of there best talking points. You've all heard it, "You can get something from nothing, so there must have been..."

The only thing they can state with authority is, "we don't know but we are working on it." Without unimagined breakthroughs in technology, this lot has only the hope of eliminating bad possibilities. We are fresh out of Einsteins and even he was wrong from time to time.

Years ago, Hawking had it right. He said something to the effect of, "Since nothing prior to the Big Bang is measurable, you might as well say it was the beginning of everything." The rest I am paraphrasing but the phrase I promise is a direct quote is "you might as well say."

I took this to mean that any predictions of a pre-bang state of affairs were no more than idle musings. He then morph it to "yep, it was the absolute beginning." He recently postulated that something from nothing is an acceptable probability.

Wonder what he'll think of next to tow the rest of his crowd around.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 05:20:59 UTC | #592882

Rawhard Dickins's Avatar Comment 26 by Rawhard Dickins

Just one small point - where is the observer standing?

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 06:24:22 UTC | #592887

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 27 by Schrodinger's Cat

One of the most prevalent misconceptions in cosmology is that the universe began as an immensely small, inconceivably dense collection of material that suddenly exploded, giving rise to space as we know it. There are a number of problems with this idea, not least of all the assumption implicit in an event termed the big “bang.” In truth, nothing “banged.” The notion of an explosion brings to mind an expanding tide of material, gradually filling the space around it; however, when our universe was born, there was no space. There was no time either. There was no vacuum. There was literally nothing.

Somewhat ironic, but the 'correction' of the misconception is itself a misconception. Anyone who watched the recent Horizon programme 'What Came Before The Big Bang ?'....will have seen that the growing concensus among cosmologists is that the universe didn't start with 'nothing'. They even had Roger Penrose, one of the former staunchest supporters of the 'nothing' hypothesis, stating he'd changed his mind as the 'nothing' notion really did not make any sense.

The program then proceeded to outline the half dozen or so variants of the 'eternal inflation' theory, plus a number of other weird and bizzare ideas ( such as the evolutionary universe idea ), plus Penrose's own cyclic cosmos theory. Every one of these ideas, and they are the forefront of cosmology, posits that there was a 'before' to our universe.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 07:08:40 UTC | #592890

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 28 by Steve Zara

Every one of these ideas, and they are the forefront of cosmology, posits that there was a 'before' to our universe.

Not necessarily. The evolutionary universe idea doesn't have any meaningful 'before', as the time dimension of the new universe is not the same as that of the original one. The evolutionary universe idea makes no sense anyway as been pointed out elsewhere. There is no meaning to the idea of universes competing and also no meaning to the idea of our universe having a sibling somewhere.

There are many problems with the idea of eternal time being traced back from one universe to another. For one thing, it doesn't actually remove the need for an origin, even though that origin is infinitely far away in time.

This does not help with the idea of a creator, it just means that time may not conform to simple models which allow there to always be a meaningful 'before' and 'after'.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 07:37:20 UTC | #592892

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 29 by Starcrash

however, when our universe was born, there was no space. There was no time either. There was no vacuum. There was literally nothing.

I don't agree with this statement. I'm quoting from a Mr. Deity episode here...

"...plus, we don't actually know if nothing is even possible. I mean, it certainly isn't probable... because there are an infinite number of ways in which something can exist, but there's really only one way in which nothing can exist."

There's simply no way to know if there was anything in existence before the Big Bang. We just haven't found anything pre-dating it... especially if the Big Bang created time. How do you figure out the age of something that predates time?

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 09:11:51 UTC | #592901

John_Geeshu's Avatar Comment 30 by John_Geeshu

There sure are a lot of folks dissing the linked article for speculating about things they claim no one knows about, who then apparently are quite happy to go on to speculate themselves.

Just saying, since making sense seems to be something y'all are interested in. ;)

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 09:26:24 UTC | #592903