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#1    churchanddestroy

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 09:12 PM

Hey everyone, I'm currently working on a Philosophical Theory thats been circling my overworked (thanks to finals) head.
I'm almost finished, but there is one thing that I need some sort of answer from, and I figured that the space and astronomy section would help me best.
Ok, so heres what I'm asking. Assuming the Big Bang is true, whatever your stance on it is, what do scientists say caused it? Has anyone ever made a scientific attempt to explain it?
I know that in the theory, before the Big Bang all matter in the universe was compressed into a point of space that would essentially be, from our perspective, infinitely massive and dense, yet infinitely small, which, according to my understanding of cosmology (which, alas, is lacking) would not literally mean infinitely, but more or less incomprehensible, as the weight of this one point would be the weight of the entire universe, all focused in on one ridiculously small speck of matter.
I used to be a proponent of the Big Crunch/Big Bounce theory, but the accelerated expansion of the universe made me think otherwise, and I had a bit of a revelation during my philosophy class about the nature of the beginning of the universe. So, since my cosmological knowledge is relatively limited, I'm hoping someone will offer any information (even a yes science has an explanation, or no, it doesn't), any at all at the very least will be most helpful.
Thanks

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#2    MID

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 11:20 PM

church...

Ah, I see you are exploring beyond the limits!

We have studied the Big Bang for a long time.  It is a seemingly very valid model for the origins of our spacetime and physical universe.   However, what caused it is utterly unknown.  Scientists can explain what the theory says happened, right from the finite moment in the way distant past,  but anything prior that moment in time...the cause, as-it-were, of this sudden, cataclysmic expansion, is not explained.

Science has its limits, and at present, this is one of them.  
Utilizing the theory of General Relativity, we can extrapolate the expansion we observe of the universe backwards in time, but we can only do this until the mathematics of the theory yield a singuilarity of infinite density and temperature at a finite moment.   That's the Big Bang.  

Beyond that, we know nothing at all.  It's rather similar to the speed of light.  Special Relativity's mathematics stop everything at  a point infinitesimally close to the speed of light, but never actually reaching the speed of light, let alone exceeding it.  Basically, you can't go any faster because the equations do not allow for the square root of a negative number, nor "0" as a result (believe it or not...that's what the cosmic speed limit boils down to...when velocities greater than "c" exist, and "0" occurs in the equations, which is what time and the length of objects  at "c" are, we arrive at an impossibility.   At that point, we have reached a limit, mathematically.


We can use Special Relativity to get us right up close to the speed of light, and General Realativity can get us all away to the point of the Big Bang...pretty big speeds and pretty big time frames, granted, but beyond them, we know nothing at all.

So, I think the answer is that no, science doesn't have an explanation for the cause of the big bang.  The cause, according to definition of the term,  was in existence prior to the event, and since we can't see beyond the point of the event...we don't actually know.

At this point, "mind and will and  hand of God" is as good an explanation as anything else...










#3    churchanddestroy

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 11:48 PM

MID on Feb 26 2008, 05:20 PM, said:

church...

Ah, I see you are exploring beyond the limits!

We have studied the Big Bang for a long time.  It is a seemingly very valid model for the origins of our spacetime and physical universe.   However, what caused it is utterly unknown.  Scientists can explain what the theory says happened, right from the finite moment in the way distant past,  but anything prior that moment in time...the cause, as-it-were, of this sudden, cataclysmic expansion, is not explained.

Science has its limits, and at present, this is one of them.  
Utilizing the theory of General Relativity, we can extrapolate the expansion we observe of the universe backwards in time, but we can only do this until the mathematics of the theory yield a singuilarity of infinite density and temperature at a finite moment.   That's the Big Bang.  

Beyond that, we know nothing at all.  It's rather similar to the speed of light.  Special Relativity's mathematics stop everything at  a point infinitesimally close to the speed of light, but never actually reaching the speed of light, let alone exceeding it.  Basically, you can't go any faster because the equations do not allow for the square root of a negative number, nor "0" as a result (believe it or not...that's what the cosmic speed limit boils down to...when velocities greater than "c" exist, and "0" occurs in the equations, which is what time and the length of objects  at "c" are, we arrive at an impossibility.   At that point, we have reached a limit, mathematically.


We can use Special Relativity to get us right up close to the speed of light, and General Realativity can get us all away to the point of the Big Bang...pretty big speeds and pretty big time frames, granted, but beyond them, we know nothing at all.

So, I think the answer is that no, science doesn't have an explanation for the cause of the big bang.  The cause, according to definition of the term,  was in existence prior to the event, and since we can't see beyond the point of the event...we don't actually know.

At this point, "mind and will and  hand of God" is as good an explanation as anything else...

Thanks, this helps alot. I wasn't questioning the Big Bang theory, I am a strong supporter of it, I was just seeking some further clarification on it.

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#4    MID

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 12:17 AM

churchanddestroy on Feb 26 2008, 06:48 PM, said:

Thanks, this helps alot. I wasn't questioning the Big Bang theory, I am a strong supporter of it, I was just seeking some further clarification on it.




Oh no, church...I didn't think you were questioning it.  I was actually adressing the depth of your thought in going beyond the limits of modern science in your queries.
I think that's a healthy way to be!

Good luck with your Philosophical Theory!!

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#5    DoctorBrodsky

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 12:59 AM

Didnt Einstein say nothing can travel faster then light due to friction, or something like that, even in space where there is close to none, once you get to that speed an object the size of a ball point pin will be.... well I dont know, pretty damn big.
Im sure you understand and can explain what I am saying a hell of a lot better then me though.  laugh.gif


#6    MID

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 01:50 AM

DoctorBrodsky on Feb 26 2008, 07:59 PM, said:

Didnt Einstein say nothing can travel faster then light due to friction, or something like that, even in space where there is close to none, once you get to that speed an object the size of a ball point pin will be.... well I dont know, pretty damn big.



Oddly enough, Special Relativity predicts that as an object nears the speed of light, it will shrink in respect to its length in the direction of motion, relative to the stationary observer, not get bigger.   Clocks also slow down in the same fashion, and by the same relation...

(1 / square root of (1 - velocity squared / speed of light squared))


We cannot attain the speed of light because if velocity in the relation above is = the speed of light, the relation becomes the square root of zero...which of course is zero...meaning something would have no length and time would cease to exist, which of course isn't possible for an object in space.  Thus, "c" is unattainable.   And of course, making velocity > "c" would result in the square root of a negative number, which is not a real number...thus, you can't attain or exceed the speed of light, according to Special Relativity...

Of course, none of the changes would be perceptible to the person who was actually moving!  
hmm.gif ...wierd stuff, eh?

It's really that bottom-line simple....of course, understanding the derivation of that relation takes a little more than basic algebra.  Einstein wrote a popular exposition on Relativity in 1916, in which he said that it assumed a level of education which corresponded to that of a college matriculation exam.  I think today perhaps that might be a little shy of the real requirement.  

If you're actually interested, the book is called, oddly enough , RELATIVITY,  Albert Einstein (1916) (c. 1961, the estate of Albert Einstein).  It's relatively short (no pun intended), at about 155 pages or so, but it will take some patience and effort, and a knowledge of algebra at least to get through it.   It's elegantly simple, really!  


Einstein was a great teacher, as well as a great Physicist....


  



#7    DONTEATUS

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 05:59 PM

we humans are the event that puts speed limits on all things there is no speed limit in the unknown.

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#8    MID

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 07:45 PM

DONTEATUS on Feb 29 2008, 12:59 PM, said:

we humans are the event that puts speed limits on all things there is no speed limit in the unknown.



Actually, it's mathematics that results in the speed limits.  
Of course, humans invented mathematics.  Personally, I am of the mind to continue to question "why".   I also feel strongly that the current limits of our models and understanding, as valid as they seem to be for the conditions we observe and predict, will be refined, and one day, we may indeed find that there is a new mathematics that can justify speeds in excess of "c".  


However, semantically, I must take exception to your comment, since the "unknown" implies that we don't know anything about it.  Thus, logically, it can only be inferred that we don't know anything about speed limits in such a place as the unknown...nor do we know anything at all about the unknown....since it is, after all, un-known.

If you know there is no speed limit in the "unknown", then the unknown is really not unknown, is it?

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#9    ConservativePessimist

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 09:17 PM

I don't know much about this either but I'll throw out some questions to try'n help you. (Hopefully other people could answer some of these)

Would there be time when the universe was infinitesimally small/ how would time work?  I think this is important because we always consider that  something comes "before" something else which wouldn't really apply if there was no time.

What is matter, and what is energy?  Can energy exist without some sort of physical component?  

The universe was supposedly infinitely small, what does this mean?

Is the fundamental size of the universe (the smallest possible level that a thing can exist in) infinitesimal or finite?

Just some questions to consider when trying to find out how/why the big bang would happen, I think... what college do you go to, by the way?

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#10    Twin Peaks

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 09:56 PM

Perhaps the Big Bang was the end of something and not the beginning. That end brought forth an expansion of time, matter and space.

Or perhaps somehow in a seemingly forward motion - time, matter, and space are now in a reverse motion towards a new beginning.

Humans could be experiencing the beginning of something that we are a part of that we are experiencing in an illusion of foreword motion.

If we look at things in a non progressive manner then maybe a few mysteries will be revealed.





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#11    MID

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 10:00 PM

ConservativePessimist on Mar 4 2008, 04:17 PM, said:

I don't know much about this either but I'll throw out some questions to try'n help you. (Hopefully other people could answer some of these)
Would there be time when the universe was infinitesimally small/ how would time work?  I think this is important because we always consider that  something comes "before" something else which wouldn't really apply if there was no time.


No.  Time didn't exist at that point as we know it.   Everything is measured from the moment of the Big Bang, including our concept of time.   Further, I should suppose it doesn't apply to the Big Bang because no one knows anything about anything "before" that moment.


However...as in most such abstractions, I'd be willing to bet someone could argue for time before time.

Quote

What is matter, and what is energy?  Can energy exist without some sort of physical component?


We can say that broadly speaking, matter is anything which occupies space and has mass....however, the definition of matter is still the matter of some debate and frankly, there really isn't a broadly accepted definition in the scientific sense.  It's actually pretty heady stuff...

Energy is generally defined as the ability to do work.  That too is the topic of some pretty heady discussion.  Energy is a property of objects and systems.  Thus, one could certainly argue that energy with out matter is a non-thing.

...Although I have this feeling that a theoretical physicist might have a field day arguing the contrary!!! grin2.gif

Quote

The universe was supposedly infinitely small, what does this mean?


Infinitely small means reduced to a dimension that is immeasurable.   Theoretically, one can reduce something infinitely by continually making it say, 1/2 the size it is at present.   It's never "nothing", just infinitely reduced.

Quote

Is the fundamental size of the universe (the smallest possible level that a thing can exist in) infinitesimal or finite?


I would be inclined to say infinitesimal,based upon the principal above.  However, given the current understandings of sub-atomic particles and their sizes, one could also argue for a finite limit on smallness.  The fact is, our understandings have limits, but the universe itself may not.

Quote

Just some questions to consider when trying to find out how/why the big bang would happen, I think...


Well, physicists haven't even gotten close to the answer to that question...but your questions certainly could spark some intense contemplation!

QUOTE
what college do you go to, by the way?



Who?



#12    DONTEATUS

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 11:56 PM

MID what about the post 10, could it be we are all but a small atom sized event happening all inside a universe of atoms ? size does matter I think. just thinking too much. maybe if I put a camera on my back I`ll catch the truth. LoL DONTEATUS wink2.gif Great post Mid

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#13    Admiral Danger

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 08:09 PM

i have my theory about how the universe started but i only agree with some parts of the big bang theory but in general i think that the big bang it self didnt happen

thats a very interesting story about the shark and how it tried to eat you, but it still doesnt answer my question.  where the hell is my sandwitch!?

#14    Grey Area

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:16 PM

DoctorBrodsky on Feb 27 2008, 12:59 AM, said:

Didnt Einstein say nothing can travel faster then light due to friction, or something like that, even in space where there is close to none, once you get to that speed an object the size of a ball point pin will be.... well I dont know, pretty damn big.
Im sure you understand and can explain what I am saying a hell of a lot better then me though.  laugh.gif


As I understand it attaining the speed of light is theoretically impossible because:  When an object accelerates it gains mass, which requires more energy input,so theoretically to accelerate anything with mass to the speed of light would require an infinate amount of energy.  This is not a great explanation but it is described by Einsteins formula E=mc2, as well as calculating energy potential it can be applied to acceleration.

So to calculate the energy required to accelerate to a certain speed you take the mass (m) x velocity (c (usually sol)) squared.  Its a bit more complex than that and the actual calculation would be differential but for a simple explanation It'll do, until someone corrects me its been ages since I have dealt with that.

As for what caused the big bang, yeah thats a tough one, to which I don't think there is any great explanation beyond the staple 'all laws of physics break down in a singularity'.  That said there are some quite disturbing questions raised by this.  There are thought to be many singularities thoughout the universe, which are not defined so much by their mass as by the amount of mass concentrated within a particular area of space, the stilleto effect.  Most singularities are a few solar masses (one solar mass being equal to our star) but there are supermassive black holes at the centre of many galaxies that are estimated to be thousands if not hundreds of thousands of solar masses.  If the Big Bang occurred by some unknown property of a singularity whats to say a smaller but quite catastrophic explosion of similar proportions will not occur from any other singularity?

"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No
matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there
first, and is waiting for it."

Terry Pratchett.

#15    MID

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 12:57 AM

DONTEATUS on Mar 25 2008, 07:56 PM, said:

MID what about the post 10, could it be we are all but a small atom sized event happening all inside a universe of atoms ? size does matter I think. just thinking too much.




Others of some scientific standing have though the very same thing, D....








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