Study Says the Big Bang Might Actually Have Been a "Big Bounce"

Wednesday, 13 July 2016 - 5:40PM
Astrophysics
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 - 5:40PM
Study Says the Big Bang Might Actually Have Been a "Big Bounce"
For many years, the "Big Bang" has been the accepted explanation for the formation of the universe as we know it today. But according to a new study, that theory might need to be revised a little bit, in such a way that we might want to call it the "Big Bounce" instead.

According to the Big Bang theory, our universe is perpetually expanding because it originated from an infinitely dense point in space that underwent a period of rapid expansion 13.7 billion years ago. However, this theory involves the breakdown of the laws of physics when the Big Bang actually occurred, leading some researchers to adopt a theory that involves the universe alternating between periods of contracting and expanding, like a Hoberman sphere

While today, larger objects are ruled by Newtonian physics and subatomic particles are ruled by quantum mechanics, researchers have assumed that at the beginning of the universe the laws of physics applied at all scales--a theory known as conformal symmetry. And since much of the early universe would have existed on the subatomic level, if conformal symmetry applies, the entire universe may have been ruled by quantum mechanics.

If this is the case, then the origin of the universe would look a lot different. In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers claimed that the laws of quantum mechanics would have allowed the universe to transition from contraction to expansion without collapsing into an infinitely dense point in space. Similarly, it would also save our universe from its violent predicted end, in which the universe once again collapses and destroys itself after a period of infinite expansion, known as the Big Crunch.

Opening quote
"Quantum mechanics saves us when things break down," Dr Steffen Gielen from Imperial College London said in a statement. "It saves electrons from falling in and destroying atoms, so maybe it could also save the early universe from such violent beginnings and endings as the Big Bang and Big Crunch."
Closing quote

As a result, the researchers' model found that our universe could have originated from a previous universe that was contracting. This is a similar theory to the Big Bang, except the previous universe doesn't need to collapse into an infinitely dense point, and it doesn't necessarily need to break the laws of physics.
Opening quote
"The big surprise in our work is that we could describe the earliest moments of the hot Big Bang quantum mechanically, under very reasonable and minimal assumptions about the matter present in the universe. Under these assumptions, the Big Bang was a 'bounce', in which contraction reversed to expansion."
Closing quote

According to the researchers, this model could explain not only the origin of our universe, but could be extended to explain the structures of different components of the universe, such as galaxies. 

Opening quote
"Our model's ability to give a possible solution to the problem of the Big Bang opens the way to new explanations for the formation of the universe," said Dr Gielen.
Closing quote
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