I was asked a while back by fellow blogger, Priyesh Bohra, about what my thoughts were on how the universe came to be after he read my post The Article of Astronomical Proportions. I promised him I’d work on an entire post dedicated to the matter and apologise to him for taking so long to get around to it. Better late than never I suppose.
What I’m going to do is break it down into some of my favourite hypotheses and then explain my thoughts on each. I’ll try to refrain from too much scientific jargon and keep it as “Professor Brian Cox simple” as I possibly can. If I get the chance I may try to conjure up a theory of my own just for fun. So without further ado, let’s get cracking!
The Big Bang Theory – It’s the most widely accepted model in science today and is indeed the model I believe to be true. This theory states that the universe began from essentially nothing. For some reason; a reason that has never and probably will never be found; there was a random fluctuation in this nothingness that caused something the size of a subatomic particle (known to some as the “god particle”) to inflate into something unimaginably vast in a fraction of a second. This was done by something called negative-pressure vacuum energy. It created all that we know and take for granted in our known universe today.
The universe is estimated to be around 13.8 billion years old because so far we have seen only objects that are around 13.8 billion light years away from us in whatever direction. That seems to state that only light visible to us can be seen if it sits within that distance. Any light further out cannot be seen because it hasn’t reached us yet.
I think this theory is the most plausible. While the ‘random fluctuation in the nothingness’ is certainly very sketchy and draws scepticism at every turn, I think the theory itself holds about as much potential truth as we’re able to grasp at present until further research is done.
Ekpyrotic Theory – I like this theory. I probably like this one more than any other and I’d love it if it were true. In essence, it states that there are innumerable universes out there with every conceivable possibility in each. That means there’ll be more of you in other universes. Literally countless more. This theory came about as a result of string theory.
The theory itself is very scientific and if I went into it too much I’d no doubt lose most all of you. To keep it as simple as I can without sounding like I’m talking to a four year old, you have to imagine that our universe is essentially a flat projection (known as a ‘brane’). Everything we know goes on within this brane. There are endless sums of other branes side by side and each of them is moving back and forth. Every so often, our brane collides with other branes that are moving relative to it and when they do, that creates a big bang; a new beginning for each universe.
It still sounds confusing even putting it as simply as that. I don’t want to get bogged down by the science behind it though and I’d rather highlight the fun parts of the theory. Namely what I’ve already mentioned in that there are endless possibilities in each brane. The physical laws of each brane would differ. Every single little possibility exists within this theory, up to and including a you who chooses to eat a different meal to what you ate last Friday week. Imagine it; if this theory were true then there’s a you out there who’s mega rich. A shame that I don’t believe it is then.
Pulsating/Oscillating Theory – This theory actually incorporates both beginning and end. I suppose the Ekpyrotic Theory did too, but this one works differently.
It’s quite simple really. The words “pulsating” and “oscillating” should give it away. The theory states that the universe is expanding up until a certain point and once it reaches this point, it’ll begin to contract until everything in the universe is squashed down to the point it was at before the Big Bang. Then from there, the universe will start all over again. Basically it’s a never ending cycle.
I quite like this theory, but I don’t believe it. If it were true then I think it’d be fun if things happened like in the Red Dwarf episode ‘Backwards’ where it’s a case that the universe doesn’t just contract, but everything that ever happened starts to undo itself. So you basically start off dead, you get up and start living as an old person, get younger and eventually crawl back…actually, you know what? Eurgh! No! That wouldn’t be fun at all, but what would be is that you’d talk backwards and the word ‘bitter’ would sound like ‘erskib’. Try it. You’ll see.
So no, I’m not sold on this theory. I don’t think the universe contracts back to a singularity after a given period of time. I think the Pulsating/Oscillating Theory negates entropy (something I do believe in – it’s tough not to because it’s happening) and therefore I can categorically rule it out.
Steady State Theory – I can already say with fervour that this theory has already been disproven so I’m not talking about it to say whether I believe it or not; more just to explain what it is and how it works.
The theory suggested that matter is being continuously created to explain why the universe is constantly expanding. This essentially means that the universe had no beginning and has no end; that matter creation is an eternal occurrence. The theory has been disproved due to a lot of contrary evidence found since the 60’s however.
I quite like the idea behind the theory. While it’d be easy to ask “well how does matter just create itself”, I think it’s only as ludicrous as The Big Bang Theory where the universe apparently created itself. It’s easy to see why the theory has been dispelled, but I think it’s a nice one if you imagine it. An ever expanding and self-replicating universe that never ends; new possibilities springing up all over the place. It’s a shame it isn’t the case and the universe really will end one day. Or at least cease to exist in the way we know it.
So there are a few of the known theories. There are more I could list, but they’re honestly so complex that I’d lose patience trying to explain the science behind them. It’s been tricky enough with the ones I’ve explained without getting too technical.
Now for my fun theory. I’m doing this totally off the top of my head so please bear with me. I shall dub this ‘The Inventism Theory’. Basically, this universe came into existence the moment I came to exist. An alternative version of me created everything after the last incarnation died and I create it differently every time. I live my life in a universe I didn’t actually know I created and when I die, I return to the drawing board and decide what the next universe will be like before being born again.
Don’t confuse it with reincarnation. That’s not what this is. You see, I’m, the only thing in the universe that really exists. You’re all here just because I put you here. Once I die, you’ll no longer exist. That doesn’t make me god either because once I’m born I just fit in like everybody else with nothing especially remarkable about me. If I made myself too powerful then people would get wise. Not that it’d matter if they did because if they killed me I’d just go back to the drawing board anyway. I’ll live on forever inventing universes however I see fit.
The Inventism Theory there. What do you think of that? Not bad for a theory I just created with no forethought whilst eating my dinner (or lunch depending on how you swing).
In reality, nobody knows for sure how the universe came to be. We’ll likely never find out. Maybe god did create everything. Which god? Take your pick. That leaves the question…who created the creator? The idea of a god who just appeared out of nowhere to create the universe is surely no less ludicrous than the idea of the universe creating itself, but however it came to be, let’s just enjoy it as best we can. It’s the only one we’ve got for now so we should endeavour to make the most of it!
What theory do you think is most plausible? Do you care to venture any hypotheses I haven’t mentioned here? Perhaps you want to explain why you think god was definitely the creator and that these theories are just all plain wrong. What do you make of my newly created Inventism Theory? I’d love to read your thoughts and see what you think so please comment below and I’ll get back to you.