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The universe before it began
Seed Magazine ^ | 5/22/06 | Maggie Wittlin

Posted on 05/24/2006 3:59:24 PM PDT by LibWhacker

Scientists use quantum gravity to describe the universe before the Big Bang.

Scientists may finally have an answer to a "big" question: If the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe, what could have caused it to happen?

Using a theory called "loop quantum gravity," a group led by Penn State professor Abhay Ashtekar has shown that just before the Big Bang occurred, another universe very similar to ours may have been contracting. According to the group's findings, this previous universe eventually became so dense that a normally negligible repulsive component of the gravitational force overpowered the attractive component, causing the universe to "bounce" apart. This big bounce is what we now know as the Big Bang. The group published its analysis in the April 12th issue of Physical Review Letters.

"These equations tell us that in fact there is another pre-Big Bang branch of the universe, and then we tried to understand what it looks like," Ashtekar said. "[Surprisingly], the universe again looks very much classical.

"So there is another universe on the other side which is joined to our universe in a deterministic way," he concluded.

Coauthor Parampreet Singh, a postdoc at Penn State, said that Einstein's theory of general relativity describes the current universe very well, but it breaks down when it encounters the extreme density of the universe around the time of the Big Bang.

"[General relativity] gives physical singularities when we ask questions about the physics near the Big Bang," he said. "Unless this problem is solved, or unless a solution of this problem is known, we do not have a complete description of the universe."

Physicists have developed theoretical systems, such as string theory, to unite general relativity with quantum mechanics and explain the very early universe. In the late 1980s, Ashtekar published the first paper on loop quantum gravity, a theory which applies quantum mechanical principles to examine the spacetime continuum. According to his model, there is no continuum: Smooth, continuous space is only an approximation of an underlying quantized structure, one that is made up of discrete units.

Loop quantum gravity also predicts a small repulsive component of gravitational force, which is a non-factor in other theories. At most densities, even the extremely high density of an atom's nucleus, this component has no significant effect. But as density increases, approaching 1075 times the nuclear density, this repulsion begins to dominate. According to the Ashtekar's equations, this appears to be what happened to the universe before ours: As it collapsed, it became so dense that gravity started to, in a sense, work backwards, birthing our universe.

Singh, Ashtekar's postdoc, noted that the group's conclusions are eerily similar to findings published by Princeton researcher Paul Steinhardt two weeks ago. Using string theory, Steinhardt concluded that the universe may be cyclic, with each crunch leading to a bounce.

But Steinhardt said the two papers are only distantly related:

"It is an idealized set-up which does not connect smoothly to realistic cosmology," he said via e-mail about the Penn State paper. "By contrast, our scenario is designed so that it connects smoothly to Einstein gravity and standard Hubble expansion, so that it reproduces the astronomical conditions we observe today."

Ashtekar acknowledge that his work addresses the idealized situation of a homogeneous, isotropic universe, one that is uniform in space and uniform in all directions—the model does not account for heterogeneities such as galaxies.

"This picture does hold up in kind of simple generalizations," he said. "The key question is really if this prediction is going to hold up with more and more realistic models."


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: abhayashtekar; ashtekar; astronomy; bang; before; began; big; bigbang; bigbounce; bigcrunch; bounce; cosmology; crunch; cyclic; einstein; expansion; force; goddooditamen; gravitational; gravity; hubble; idealized; india; loop; ludditebait; mechanics; model; mybrainhurtsfromthis; nothingfromnothing; quantum; repulsive; space; string; stringtheory; theory; thumperbait; universe
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But as density increases, approaching 1075 times the nuclear density, this repulsion begins to dominate.

But not in black holes?

1 posted on 05/24/2006 3:59:32 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

Oh no. The creationists have had it now (insert sarcasm).


2 posted on 05/24/2006 4:01:41 PM PDT by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I looked in my rearview mirror.)
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To: LibWhacker
This is an answer?
Just postulate another universe and hope nobody notices? or worse yet, ask that damm embarrassing question...

... WTF did THAT universe come from... ?

3 posted on 05/24/2006 4:06:51 PM PDT by Publius6961 (Multiculturalism is the white flag of a dying country)
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To: LibWhacker

Nope. Ain't dense enough.


4 posted on 05/24/2006 4:08:21 PM PDT by Gordongekko909 (I know. Let's cut his WHOLE BODY off.)
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To: LibWhacker
Black holes are balloons compared to the singularity.

To paraphrase Stephen Hawkins "When God said 'Let there be Light', the question isn't whether the universe burst into existance; the question is 'Did God have a choice?'.

There's some good information here that's way over my head. Black holes are in the neighborhood of 10e35 times the nuclear density, nothing near 10e75 (unless I'm severely mis-understanding my physics - which is entirely possible too).

5 posted on 05/24/2006 4:08:40 PM PDT by Hodar (With Rights, come Responsibilities. Don't assume one, without assuming the other.)
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To: Hodar

10 to the 75th is a lot of anything!!!!:-)


6 posted on 05/24/2006 4:12:38 PM PDT by GW and Twins Pawpaw (Sheepdog for Five [My grandkids are way more important than any lefty's feelings!])
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To: Publius6961
As I understand things, the distribution of elements from a 'pure energy' perspective, should be very heavy in the Hydrogen, Helium and taper to a stop around Fe (iron). From a single Big Bang, very complex atoms with a higher atomic weight than iron would be practially non-existant.

That doesn't match reality, because we have tons of Silicon, Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Copper, Zinc. As you move up the Periodic Table, the frequency of these elements get more and more rare.

7 posted on 05/24/2006 4:12:49 PM PDT by Hodar (With Rights, come Responsibilities. Don't assume one, without assuming the other.)
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To: LibWhacker
just before the Big Bang occurred, another universe very similar to ours may have been contracting

I thought we already decided our universe is destined to expand forever; in which case such a universe is not that similar to ours.

The current researcher seems to have a different opinion about our universe's fate...

8 posted on 05/24/2006 4:13:49 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: BipolarBob
Picture taken just before the universe was created:


9 posted on 05/24/2006 4:14:24 PM PDT by Kenny Bunkport (As the Democrat Party becomes more evil, the GOP becomes more stupid. What's a voter to do?)
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To: Hodar

Darn, I didn't complete my thought; sorry.

So, as the distribution of elements that 'ought' to appear from the 'original' big bang -aka the Singularity- didn't appear, the theory goes that there was a Bang, a contraction and then another Bang, and another contraction and then another Bang (I believe the guess is 5 Bangs to get to where we are today).


10 posted on 05/24/2006 4:15:07 PM PDT by Hodar (With Rights, come Responsibilities. Don't assume one, without assuming the other.)
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To: LibWhacker
Using a theory called "loop quantum gravity," a group led by Penn State professor Abhay Ashtekar has shown that just before the Big Bang occurred, another universe very similar to ours may have been contracting.

Where did that universe come from?

11 posted on 05/24/2006 4:15:44 PM PDT by Kenny Bunkport (As the Democrat Party becomes more evil, the GOP becomes more stupid. What's a voter to do?)
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To: LibWhacker

bump


12 posted on 05/24/2006 4:16:39 PM PDT by dangerdoc (dangerdoc (not actually dangerous any more))
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To: Gengis Khan; ridgerunner; little jeremiah; The Lion Roars

The "Hindu" and Buddhist cycle of creation and destruction.


13 posted on 05/24/2006 4:17:51 PM PDT by razoroccam (Then in the name of Allah, they will let loose the Germs of War (http://www.booksurge.com))
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To: Gordongekko909; Hodar
Hmmm... I've always heard black holes are infinitely dense mathematical points.

For instance here at NASA they say:

The star eventually collapses to the point of zero volume and infinite density, creating what is known as a " singularity ".
Or here at MIT:
A black hole forms when a very massive star runs out of fuel. Without the power to support its mass, the star implodes and the core collapses to a point of infinite density.
Confusing!

Thanks for the link, Hodar... Checking it out now.

14 posted on 05/24/2006 4:18:11 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: Hodar
So our universe is a 5-banger?

(I'm not sure if I want to go there...)

15 posted on 05/24/2006 4:18:30 PM PDT by Publius6961 (Multiculturalism is the white flag of a dying country)
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To: LibWhacker

Yeah, but what about the coming Gnab Gib?


16 posted on 05/24/2006 4:22:24 PM PDT by WestVirginiaRebel (Common sense will do to liberalism what the atomic bomb did to Nagasaki-Rush Limbaugh)
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To: Hodar
There's some good information here that's way over my head. Black holes are in the neighborhood of 10e35 times the nuclear density, nothing near 10e75 (unless I'm severely mis-understanding my physics - which is entirely possible too).

I'd always heard that the singularity at the center of a black hole was INFINITELY dense. Which would mean, by this theory, that each black hole forms a new universe (somewhere in hyperspace)

17 posted on 05/24/2006 4:22:42 PM PDT by SauronOfMordor (A planned society is most appealing to those with the arrogance to think they will be the planners)
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To: LibWhacker

I love this stuff, trying to wrap my feeble mind around such complex theories.


18 posted on 05/24/2006 4:24:21 PM PDT by Mazda3Fan
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To: Publius6961
The same science that can not explain how aspirin works now with a straight face give us ANOTHER universe! They have a ways to go to map out the one we have now. How did the first universe come to be? Oh wait... that must be yet another universe!
19 posted on 05/24/2006 4:24:21 PM PDT by Sterlis (My brain is full.....)
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To: SauronOfMordor

I wish I was smart enough to get paid to sit around and think this crap up.


20 posted on 05/24/2006 4:24:56 PM PDT by DonaldC
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To: Hodar

The heavier elements are created in supernovae. Every atom in your body, except for the hydrogen, has been through a star at least one time.


21 posted on 05/24/2006 4:27:11 PM PDT by GW and Twins Pawpaw (Sheepdog for Five [My grandkids are way more important than any lefty's feelings!])
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To: LibWhacker

BTTT


22 posted on 05/24/2006 4:27:23 PM PDT by ADemocratNoMore (Jeepers, Freepers, where'd 'ya get those sleepers?. Pj people, exposing old media's lies.)
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To: Kenny Bunkport
Where did that universe come from?

I was asked that question in High School theology class years ago. My smart-ass answer was "the same place God came from"

A cyclical universe would have no beginning nor end, just big-banging, expanding, contracting, and big-banging again

23 posted on 05/24/2006 4:27:33 PM PDT by SauronOfMordor (A planned society is most appealing to those with the arrogance to think they will be the planners)
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To: GW and Twins Pawpaw

Aha!... But how many stars has the average atom been through?


24 posted on 05/24/2006 4:29:55 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
So now a "Big Bounce" replaces the "Big Bang." Apparently an unspecified number of them.

So, how did this start? Or did it have no start, but has been oscillating in this fashion for eternity? How can we know?

25 posted on 05/24/2006 4:31:20 PM PDT by nonsporting
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To: Kenny Bunkport
So did God do the "Samantha Nose Wiggle" or was more like Genie's "Cross your Arms and Blink"?

What is the technical explanation for God's creation of the Universe?

26 posted on 05/24/2006 4:32:54 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: LibWhacker

Who knows? But that's where the little buggers are assembled.:-)


27 posted on 05/24/2006 4:34:32 PM PDT by GW and Twins Pawpaw (Sheepdog for Five [My grandkids are way more important than any lefty's feelings!])
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To: LibWhacker

Talk about mythology. Back to infinite regression.


28 posted on 05/24/2006 4:34:58 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: LibWhacker
"loop quantum gravity,"

Would you not get more defined results by peeing in the wind.

29 posted on 05/24/2006 4:40:28 PM PDT by org.whodat (Never let the facts get in the way of a good assumption.)
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To: Hodar
Nice try. The Big Bang theory predicts that after the universe cooled to a point where atoms could form (in the first couple of minutes), hydrogen dominated at about 90%, helium followed at about 10%, and minute traces of deuterium (0.015%) and lithium formed. Eventually stars formed and through nuclear fusion higher elements formed. What is interesting is that depending upon the size of the star, only certain elements could form. For example, in smaller stars fusion could only produce up to oxygen. But even in the largest stars, the highest that could be produced by fusion is iron (so that it could remain an exothermic reaction). To form elements past iron, the star had to supernova (which produced elements up to uranium).

Based upon these theories, you would see that most of the universe would be hydrogen, followed by helium. And you would see waste that was blown off of stars (and perhaps forming future generation stars) would be relatively high in elements with an atomic mass less than iron but very low in elements higher than iron. Certain elements such as iron and oxygen (that represent an end to a chain of reactions) would have extremely high concentrations.

This is one of the reasons that the Big Bang Theory has so much support. It's because nuclear physics works like clockwork.
30 posted on 05/24/2006 4:48:44 PM PDT by burzum (Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.--Adm. Rickover)
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To: Hodar
As I understand things, the distribution of elements from a 'pure energy' perspective, should be very heavy in the Hydrogen, Helium and taper to a stop around Fe (iron).

I'm not sure where you're getting this but I'll accept it for the sake of argument.

That doesn't match reality, because we have tons of Silicon, Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Copper, Zinc.

Right. Carbon, Nitrogen, Silicon, and Oxygen are all way lower in the Periodic Table than Iron, so adopting your theory, you would expect them to be more plentiful. Copper and Zinc are in the same row. Titanium and Vanadium are actually LOWER than Iron in the PT. So you would expect them to be MORE abundant, but in fact they're relatively rare.

As you move up the Periodic Table, the frequency of these elements get more and more rare.

And they do, generally speaking. So you've just defeated our own argument. Or did I misunderstand something?

31 posted on 05/24/2006 5:00:06 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: Publius6961
... WTF did THAT universe come from... ?

...and where did that come from, and where did that come from, and that one and that one?

"Scientists" study things they claim are trillions of years old...and never come up with an answer, just postulation. As much proof as we can come up with for there being G-D. I'll stick with my postulation and..."excuse me while I kiss the sky".

FMCDH(BITS)

32 posted on 05/24/2006 5:02:17 PM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: LibWhacker
It is an idealized set-up which does not connect smoothly to realistic cosmology

This is polite language.

33 posted on 05/24/2006 5:02:23 PM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: org.whodat
Would you not get more defined results by peeing in the wind.

Yes. I can attest to that, although peeing into the wind is much more defining.

FMCDH(BITS)

34 posted on 05/24/2006 5:04:58 PM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: LibWhacker
Scientists may finally have an answer to a "big" question: If the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe, what could have caused it to happen?

Kids playing with matches.

35 posted on 05/24/2006 5:05:32 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (I LIKE you! When I am Ruler of Earth, yours will be a quick and painless death </Stewie>)
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To: nothingnew
"Scientists" study things they claim are trillions of years old...and never come up with an answer, just postulation.

Billion of years old, not trillions. But the rest is correct. But what would you expect? To expect anything else is to not understand how science works. To explain why is in the realm of philosophers.

36 posted on 05/24/2006 5:07:20 PM PDT by burzum (Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.--Adm. Rickover)
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To: DonaldC
I wish I was smart enough to get paid to sit around and think this crap up.

I wish I was smart enough to figure this crap out for free.

37 posted on 05/24/2006 5:09:02 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (I LIKE you! When I am Ruler of Earth, yours will be a quick and painless death </Stewie>)
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To: freedumb2003

Yeah, but look on the bright side: at least this proves we're all into recycling in a big way. )


38 posted on 05/24/2006 5:11:28 PM PDT by Heatseeker
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To: Sterlis
The same science that can not explain how aspirin works ...

I think our Medical Professionals understand this quite well. Would you like me to point out some web sites for you?

39 posted on 05/24/2006 5:12:16 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: freedumb2003

ping


40 posted on 05/24/2006 5:13:05 PM PDT by TYVets (God so loved the world he didn't send a committee)
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To: nothingnew
"Scientists" study things they claim are trillions of years old...and never come up with an answer, just postulation. As much proof as we can come up with for there being G-D.

Scientists aren't looking for God. They are looking for mechanical explanations for things. God, by definition (and His own words if you are of a Biblical Literary mind), defies proof.

Just because it is complicated and subject to new interpretations doesn't mean it shouldn't be pursued.

41 posted on 05/24/2006 5:13:34 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (I LIKE you! When I am Ruler of Earth, yours will be a quick and painless death </Stewie>)
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To: LibWhacker
Since the "current" universe seems to be flying apart and showing no signs of an eventual contraction, what prevented the "prior" iteration from doing the same thing?
42 posted on 05/24/2006 5:14:41 PM PDT by Redcloak (Speak softly and wear a loud shirt.)
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To: GW and Twins Pawpaw
Probably not that many.
About the number of permutations
of a deck of 52 cards. (i.e. 52!)

I don't have handy the formula
that estimates factorials.

Anyway 10 to the 75 is way smaller than a googol.

43 posted on 05/24/2006 5:15:25 PM PDT by cliff630 (cliff630 (Didn't Pilate ask Christ, "What is the Truth." Even while looking in the face of TRUTH))
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To: GW and Twins Pawpaw
10 to the 75th is a lot of anything!!!!:-); Just about the same number of insignificant digits needed to statistically prove evolution!
44 posted on 05/24/2006 5:17:22 PM PDT by BillT
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To: LibWhacker
Einstein's space is curved by the presence of matter, and the volume of the universe is believed finite. Time looks straight, but not necessarily so, and our universe's future could be directly connected with its beginning.
45 posted on 05/24/2006 5:17:59 PM PDT by dr huer
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To: Gordongekko909
This implies Algore's head is going to explode as it is the densest substance imaginable.
46 posted on 05/24/2006 5:18:33 PM PDT by JohnBovenmyer
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To: Publius6961

Do not question Scientific Dogma.The Inquisition is coming.


47 posted on 05/24/2006 5:18:36 PM PDT by heights
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To: LibWhacker
Ok, so now tell us where the other universe came from and how did it start? This doesn't answer any questions at all but makes more questions. This is a typical trick of scientists to make you think they have solved a big mystery when in reality they couldn't solve it so they made something up to give the illusion of solving it.

They did the same thing with the origin of life, it is impossible for it to have occured on earth the way they theorized so now "life came to earth on a meteor or some other rock from space" as if this explains it when in reality the same old question looms: How did life start?

48 posted on 05/24/2006 5:18:42 PM PDT by calex59 (No country can survive multiculturalism. Dual cultures don't mix, history has taught us that!)
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To: SauronOfMordor
This agrees with my theory:

Each of us has been reborn an infinite
number of times, Unfortunately, there is
no way to leave a trail.

49 posted on 05/24/2006 5:19:18 PM PDT by cliff630 (cliff630 (Didn't Pilate ask Christ, "What is the Truth." Even while looking in the face of TRUTH))
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To: LibWhacker

Personally, I think most of this stuff is mutual you-know-what by physicists. There are some things that just aren't knowable, and the Big Bang is one of 'em. If there even was such a thing. Unless you believe in G-d, the thought of something out of absolutely nothing is just not credible.


50 posted on 05/24/2006 5:20:30 PM PDT by rbg81
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