This web page and the web pages the hyperlinked herein were created expressly for the Physics 303 web site.


Though an arguably irrelevant question, "what happened before the big bang?" is one question that many scientists have attempted to answer in the last 20 years, while trying to determine how the universe was created.

This set of web pages is intended to complement the material covered in the Physics 303 class.  These web pages provide a brief overview of the current and historical theories of universe-creation.  A discussion of the Hawking-Turok Instanton theory, a theory not covered in class, is then presented. It is included here to provide breadth in the knowledge of what cosmologists are currently working on in their quest to determine how the universe was created, and what may have occurred before the big bang.

The theories and physics discussed herein are described in general terms, so there are no mathematical prequisites.  However, knowledge of the material covered in the Physics 303 course is assumed.

  1. First of all, how do we think the universe began?
  2. The Big Bang theory.
  3. Resolving the inadequacies of the big bang theory.
  4. The Hawking-Turok Instanton theory: Stephen Hawking's ideas.
  5. The Hawking-Turok Instanton theory: Neil Turok's ideas.
  6. The Hawking-Turok Instanton theory: the result of merging two interesting theories.
  7. Is the search over?
  8. Bibliography / Further Reading

Questions?  Comments?  Problems with this web site?  E-mail:

These pages were created by Jack "Turtle" Wong, Spring 1999.