"What choice did God have in creating the universe?  - ALBERT EINSTEIN

A Change in World (Universe) View, Part II

The big bang theory needed improvement.  It left some questions to be answered, and some observations to be explained.  In particular, it was unable to explain what happened before the big bang.

Now, one could argue that because space and time were created during the instant of the big bang, there is no such concept as a period of time or space BEFORE the big bang.   Therefore nothing existed before the big bang.  On inspection, this would seem to be a cop-out answer.  Surely something caused the big bang to occur.  Was it a divine creator?  The last 20 years have seen an increasing interest in cosmology and in theories related to the creation of the universe.  Outlined below are some of the major theories that have surfaced in the scientific community, describing the creation of the universe, and/or describing what happened before the big bang.  Perhaps God had many choices when creating the universe.


The Bouncing Universe

In the 1960's, a physicist named John Wheeler developed the bouncing universe theory.   The theory's premise involved having a universe come into being with a bug bang, expand for a while, and then implode at a certain point in time.  Upon reaching reaching a certain small size (maybe even a singularity), that universe may "bounce" and re-explode in a new big bang.  As a result, the universe follows a cyclical pattern of expansions and contractions.


The Protouniverse

This theory involves the formation of matter from nothingness before the explosion of the big bang.  It is related to the white hole theory.  A white hole is a theoretical opposite of a black hole, wherein matter would continuously appear at the speed of light, as if from nowhere.  Although there is believed to be no observational evidence of white holes, the protouniverse theory was created in an attempt to explain the non-uniformity and the varying density of the universe.


The Inflationary Theory

In 1981, a particle physicist named Alan Guth created a new theory.  Guth knew about the matter in physics that explained how elementary particles got their mass.   This matter is called scalar field matter.  Combining the mathematical equations for scalar field with Einstein's equations describing the expansion of the universe, Guth developed a theory in which large amounts of matter and energy were created from nothing!   After matter and energy were created, the universe experienced an accelerated expansion, becoming exponentially large prior to continuing its evolution according to the big bang model.  This theory has been worked on and modified by many cosmologists since its introduction.


The Bubble Universe / Andre Linde's Self Creating Universe

These are the theories discussed in class.  The bubble universe concept involves creation of universes from the quantum foam of a "parent universe."  On very small scales, the foam is frothing due to energy fluctuations.  These fluctuations may create tiny bubbles and wormholes.  If the energy fluctuation is not very large, a tiny bubble universe may form, experience some expansion like an inflating balloon, and then contract and disappear from existence.  However, if the energy fluctuation is greater than a particular critical value, a tiny bubble universe forms from the parent universe, experiences long-term expansion, and allows matter and large-scale galactic structures to form.

The "self-creating" in Andre Linde's self-creating universe theory stems from the concept that each bubble or inflationary universe will sprout other bubble universes, which in turn, sprout more bubble universes.  The universe we live in has a set of physical constants that seem tailor-made for the evolution of living things.


The Hawking-Turok Instanton Theory

To provide you with a different perspective on how the universe may have been created and what may have happened before the big bang, the Hawking-Turok model is discussed in this set of web pages.  In essence, the Hawking-Turok model suggests that there was a spontaneous creation of an open, inflationary bubble universe from nothingness.  Click 'Next' below to learn more about the work Stephen Hawking and Neil Turok completed independently, and the theory that resulted from the collaboration of the two physicists.


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