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Before the Big Bang
Scientists pretty much agree that our universe — everything that we can see and touch — evolved from a single moment of creation, known as the Big Bang. It happened 13.8 billion years ago, and it created not just matter and energy, but space and time as well.
But there’s absolutely no agreement about what came before the Big Bang. Some say that there was nothing at all. It’s an idea supported by Stephen Hawking, who has said that the universe wasn’t created, it just is.
Others, though, have developed models in which there was something before the Big Bang. One of those says the universe began when a previous universe ended in a “big crunch.” Everything in that universe smashed together into a single point of almost infinite temperature and density. That point then rebounded as the Big Bang.
Another idea says that the universe had existed as a single point for a very long time — perhaps an infinitely long time. But 13.8 billion years ago, something caused it to begin expanding, creating the present universe.
And yet another idea says that our universe is the offspring of another universe — a parent that could have given birth to an infinite number of other universes. That raises the possibility that our universe also could be a parent.
There aren’t many ways to test these ideas. But scientists hope that new tools in the future may tell us what came before the Big Bang.
We’ll talk about the future of our universe tomorrow.