The beginning of the universe

According to Stephen Hawking, the universe as time goes forward will collapse on itself forming a singularity. As time, goes backwards, the universe will explode and spontaneously come into being from nothing.

That would imply time is going backwards at the beginning of the universe, so when does time start to go forward. Maybe when the universe reach a certain size.

Basically, the universe is exploding and imploding all the time. I want to know, which, exploding or imploding came first. The age old chicken, egg question.

Do you have a quote where Stephen Hawking claims this? It sounds unfamiliar and not very sensible to me.

Time is a description which we use to describe the sequencing of events. “When does time start to go forward?” Time as we currently like to describe it is going forward. Anything that has happened in the past, happened “before”, and time progressed “forward” from that event to the present.

All our knowlegde of the universe so far indicates that it is expanding at an ever increasing rate. I guess if you looked at it another way, with time progressing in the opposite way as we now experience it, or “backwards”, it would appear that the universe is collapsing into a singularity i.e. the big crunch. There is no evidence to suggest that the universe will reverse its expansion and collapse into itself. It is now widely thought that due to the famous non-zero “cosmological constant” or vacuum energy, that this “negative gravity” will overcome the mass of the matter of the universe and prevent its collapse under its own gravity.

Here is a good site to check out relating to this topic: … nstant.htm

i am not familiar with what he actually wrote. I got that feeling from a t.v documentary I watched, I don’t agree with what was said in the documentary.

Frankly, science can’t explain the beginning any better than Genesis.

Stepehen hawking also believes that there was no ‘before’ before the bigbang. He also believes that this Universe is self contained, meaning there is nothing ‘outside’ of it.

Or maybe i’m confusing myself with the big bang theory? Hence the reason i can’t really say i fully believe in the theory.

Pinnacle of Reason wrote:
“According to Stephen Hawking, the universe as time goes forward will collapse on itself forming a singularity.”

As far as I know this theory is no longer believed to be correct. The latest equations have found that there is not enough mass in the universe to cause a contraction of the kind that would lead to another big bang. The T.V. program you watched was outdated, but then maybe I am not fully understanding what it is you are implying here.

NoelyG wrote:
I guess if you looked at it another way, with time progressing in the opposite way as we now experience it, or “backwards”, it would appear that the universe is collapsing into a singularity i.e. the big crunch. There is no evidence to suggest that the universe will reverse its expansion and collapse into itself. It is now widely thought that due to the famous non-zero “cosmological constant” or vacuum energy, that this “negative gravity” will overcome the mass of the matter of the universe and prevent its collapse under its own gravity.

Noely do you know if vacuum energy is equivalent to anti matter. It’s pretty interesting stuff. The deserts of space spreading out to encompass everything. Eventually there will be absolutely nothing.

Pinnacle wrote:
Frankly, science can’t explain the beginning any better than Genesis.

hmm… You really think so. I’m kind of curious to know exactly why you believe this? And I do mean exactly.

interesting speculation guys.

Hi Concordant,

Vacuum energy (also referred to as ‘dark energy’) is the energy of a vacuum with every single elementary particle removed. There are two models which explain this energy, but both are equivalent mathematically.

The first is the QED (quantum electro-dynamic) model. This model states that because of the high inherent energy density of the vacuum, some of this energy can be temporarily converted to mass [via E=mc^2]. So the QED model states that particle/anti-particle pairs (also called virtual particles) blink into existance and annihilate each other almost immediately.

The second is the SED (stochastic electro-dynamic) model. This model states that the vacuum consists of a mess of randomly fluctuating electro-magnetic fields. These fields have the same properties in every direction irrespective of the velocity of the observer. Therefore these randomly fluctuating fields create a random noise and impose an irreducable limitation with which we can observe atomic phenomena. Thus, this gives rise to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in quantum theory.

I hope this was what you were asking, if you want more detailed information, check out this site:

NoelyG, thanks for the explanation and the link. They are both appreciated, and I’m not just saying that out of formality. The sites a good one.

Well after reading that I want to spring another question on you. It was quite a while ago, but I remember reading/seeing something that explained that one property of empty space of the vacuum was to actually speed up the mass on it’s periphery. The larger the empty space, the faster the speed of the vacuum’s expansion. And I’m pretty sure that observation had a good deal to do with the theory of the infinitely expanding universe.

I’m just curious if you know anything about that, and if you want to could you elaborate. If you dont, I should do my own leg work. I should do my own leg work anyway. I’m sure you know what I’m saying.

Hi Concordant,

I’m not totally sure about that one. Here is the way I see it. When you blow up a ballon, the pressure on the inside is greater than that on the outside, which causes the skin of the ballon to expand. The skin of the ballon will be stretched and pulled in every direction due to this internal pressure.

The vacuum energy is also sometimes referred to as a “negative pressure”. So if we consider the skin of the ballon to be the matter surrounding the vacuum, it is stretched and squeezed in every direction, causing it to be despirsed and accelerated in every direction. In fact, it has been proposed that this vacuum energy is in fact increasing. Therefore it has been predicted that sometime in the very distant future, this force of empty space will become powerful enough to literally tear matter apart.

Not sure how accurate this analogy is, but that is how I understand it. Hope it helped.

Thanks, it’s something to consider. That’s basically what I was getting at.

I personally enjoy the implications that the expanding universe theory has for life. I mean imagine 10 billion years from now, give or take a couple billion, when there will be nothing left except for maybe pockets of matter surrounded by vast incomprehensible spaces of vacuum. It’s compelling to me becuase, when one thinks of their own death, one can always rationalize and say, “well I may not be here but at least humanity shall still persevere, or at least the earth will still orbit the sun for a time. There shall be something that lingers on that I placed value in.” But really it’s all for nothing, for as it was in the begining it shall be in the end.

I don’t think this consideration should truly affect anyone’s life, becase as it is, none of us could possibly live to see the day, and no one should allow it to overwhelm them except through inquiry. In that method the implications are enormous, almost ego altering for it points to infinite time. Of time before and time after strecthing beyond man’s ability to understand, and it really does a good job of pinpointing humanity in it’s diurnal isolation, or rather to say it another way it reveals the very limited number of years that our collective memory has existed. What has gone and what shall come, and we are here upon this wave, ever moving forward. Never back.

Pinnacle of Reason, could you elaborate on what you were refering to when you wrote: “That would imply time is going backwards at the beginning of the universe, so when does time start to go forward.”
Because it sounds familiar but I cant quite recall what that theory states.

I just had a random thought. The universe can’t continue expanding forever because the statistical likelihood of us existing now, after only a finite start time along an infinite timeline would be infinitely unlikely. Therefore everything with a start must have an end, and how far away that end is can be calculated as a probability of where we sit on that timeline currently.

Therefore there’s a 50% chance the universe will last another 14 billion years, 5% another 140 billion years, and so on.

Does that follow? Is there a rebut?

that just demonstrates the flaw in the statistical approach. Wasn’t it, at one time, statistically unlikely that Bumblebee’s could get off the ground, yet somehow they manage. Inductive math is muy fallable. In regard to the infinite, statistics are statistically likely to prove squat.

Your logic is flawed, unless you want to refute mathematics itself.

If you generate a random number from 1 to infinity you will get infinity. Or on a smaller scale, if you generate a number from 1 to 1 billion, it’s very likely you will get a high number. Just replace the coin with the human race, the logic holds.

In the words of Terry Pratchett, scientists have proven the odds of X happening are 1 in a billion, but wizards heve proven 1 in a billion chances happen 9 times out of 10.

My logic isn’t flawed, have you ever worked with statistics and probability? Can probability ever absolutely show something at 100%? Even if you close the Universe and contain it just to the appreciable data (making it finite btw) you cannot reach absolute certainty with Statistics. because Johnny walked to the store 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times does not mean, in itself, that Johnny will walk to the store again. Which is why you consider the margin of error. If you think the universe is infinite, then uncertainty increases, not decreases.

It amazes me the lack of respect people have for the infinite. You cannot generate a number to infinity, infinity has no markable place to generate to, it just keeps on going, like the Energizer Bunny.

What the in this universe is 100%? Dealing with absolutes will get you nowhere. Your logic is flawed in so much as you are suggesting statistics are completely useless tools in prediction.

I never mentioned certainty. I gave a probabilistic approach to the age of the universe.

Are you sure you’re on the right thread? :unamused: This is exactly what I said. There is no point to generate to, so any number to infinity would be infinity.

Well then my logic isn’t flawed, as I never said it was “completely” useless, I said, and you have not bothered to refute, that it cannot provide absolute certainty. This is in regards to probability/forecasting. this is as it is applied to finite systems. Think of the universe as a system. If it cannot provide absolute certainty to a limited/finite system and if we suppose (as we were) that the universe is infinite there is less certainty.

You had said

Can’t = Can not… think of can as what is possible, can not then is the negation thereof. What is impossible. That is an absolute.

in addition, explain what likelihood is if not a degree of certainty?

and I pointed out that any argument contingent on probability as applied to the infinite is inherently flawed. Probability is inductive math, it uses specific data to arrive at a general conclusion (unstated but I will say it here: that the universe cares about statistics). This is okey dokey within the confines of our finite lives. Thinking that the finite can apprehend the infinite as far as what it can or can’t (ergo absolutely) do is fallacious within the the very syntactical methods you propose using to justify your argument.

Thats all I be saying.

You are using infinity, noun, like a concrete object. In other words, like something with some points of demarcation like something you will “get”.

Tell me, can you ‘get’ infinity? In math, any number you ‘get’ can simply be doubled, thus it is impossible to ever ‘get’ there. Somehow, you think things finite can ‘get’ ‘to’ the infinite. I repeat my objection, you just don’t ‘get’ the idea of infinity. You proposed a simplistic method of ‘getting’ to infinity by adding 1. read this carefully…
you can add an infinite amount of numbers together, double them, and double that sum and still not reach infinity

In the attempt to ‘get’ it, you increase it.

Are you sure you are on the right forum? Great, I sound like WhiteLotus now. A pox on both your houses.

look, nothing personal, I believe I understood what you originally proposed and it was a novel thought but statistics is the method of factoring abbreviated data, not infinity. Probability cannot handle infinity. A probabilistic absolute would be something with a 100% certainty no? Infinity has no end to mark with a tidy little 100%. You would need an entirely different system of math (if one even exists now) to go about what you are proposing.[/i]

Case in point.

Whoa dude, you’re blowing my mind. Actually in physics infinity is generally treated as a really big undefined number rather than a variable that goes on forever. Perhaps if you take this view it’ll help us avoid metaphysics.

Having fun using your grade school maths powers? Infinity is not a real number, so ‘get’ or ‘have’ or ‘results in’ all represent the same concept. Let me rephrase. If you roll a die with an infinite positive set of numbers on, what is the probability of rolling a number under 14 billion? It’s just short of 0. If you do not “believe” in infinity, simply substitute it with a very large number, and note how the probability reduces the larger the number is. Would you like me to draw you a little picture?

misquote much?

If you are going to try to argue in such a clearly disingenuous manner you might as well stop now, it doesn’t prove anything, the people here you might have hoped to convince with a well thought out argument see through it. I extended the olive branch… alas.

Your sarcasm has been noted, your refutation has not.

When you first returned to read my reply, can I ask what website you visited in order to formulate this particular argument before you returned? Or did you grab yourself a nice ham sandwhich?

A few things

  1. When did verbs become concepts?
  2. How exactly can a die have an infinite set of positive numbers on it?
  3. If the set of numbers is infinite and your die is imprinted so, will not your aformentioned +1 method make your die obsolete? So you are not really rolling a die with an infinite set of positive numbers.
  4. What sort of point are you trying to make with your example, comedy?
  5. is this the sort of thing that arrives a priori to vegetables?
  6. Do you realize that you have managed to contradict your original argument? If the sample space is infinite, and the probability of any event is “just short of zero” then “that end” is as you said “just short of zero”. The probability of your original assertion working would be, alas, 'infinitely unlikely."

looks like my purchase of this textbook for my Finite math class last semester with its entire chapter devoted to probability paid off.

That said, I concede this discussion to you, i.e., you win. Enjoy that Nobel prize.

I know your type. You read a book, think you know something new and cool, then misapply it in real situations. The concept of infinity is not a requirement for this discussion. You of course are making an effort to avoid the philosophical context because it would take away your trolling fodder and leave you in a real debate. I give you 3/5 trolling stars, you trolled me for a few posts but your arguments became too pedantic and ridiculous to keep my interest.