What Caused the Big Bang?

Get astronomy tweets here: http://twitter.com/DeepAstronomy The question of what caused the Big Bang is one of the most difficult facing humanity. We may never find an answer, and even if we do, we probably won't understand it. It's difficult to im

1795460 Views | Published on 9th Jan, 2011

Get astronomy tweets here: http://twitter.com/DeepAstronomy

The question of what caused the Big Bang is one of the most difficult facing humanity. We may never find an answer, and even if we do, we probably won't understand it. It's difficult to imagine an event occurring without a cause, and yet, that is precisely the prospect we are faced with when it comes to this question.

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astronomy cosmology big bang beginning of the universe

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Comments & Discussion

Wow all the answers to my questions were solved withthe realisation that we still have alot to discover and nothing is off the table?
Jonny jakes - 8th Jun, 2016
So space in the sense of an empty void did not exist prior to the Big Bang? Then what is the universe expanding into? That the sum total of matter and energy within the range of current human perception may be expanding outwardly is entirely plausible. But to state that empty space came into existence at a certain point, along with time-an intangible temporal parameter-appears like a dubious and mystical assertion. For one thing it poses the question, what is non-space and what is non-time? If universe is deemed to be a term that encompasses "everything" then it must take that into account. In terms of the chart/graphic used to illustrate this, the area outside the graphic.
Joe Hansem - 11th Jun, 2016
Can anyone answer Joe Hansem's questions? What is the universe expanding into and what is none space and non time? I've struggled with these question s for years.
Paul Brophy - 4th Jul, 2016
I don't think anyone can answer Joe Hansem's questions because all we know are the space and time that we are part of. Our biology and mind are subject to space and time and explaining what is "outside" of these two measures is impossible for us. However, the fact that we ask these questions in the first place is indicative of some kind of answer which, in my humble opinion, exists but we can't comprehend it in rational terms. It's beyond our imagination because we can only imagine space and time. Therefore, whatever the answer is, it must be part of a system outside everything we know or are made of. It thus becomes a matter of belief.
Mourad Zerroug - 10th Jul, 2016
I do not think anyone can answer 'The question'. When I try to imagine non-space prior big-bang I feel my brain cannot tolerate my torture anymore.
Chinthaka Wijayaweera - 13th Jul, 2016
The "First Something", whatever it was, has no cause. It was eternal. Many scientists once believed the Universe was the eternal, included, First Something (e.g., Eddington, Einstein). But we now know it "began". If beginnings do not happen without a cause, then something that transcends the Universe itself caused the Universe to begin. An eternal, uncaused, all powerful, "Mind" is a plausible option.
Phil N. - 5th Aug, 2016
The universe is not expanding into anything; that is the whole point. It is an expansion OF space, not an expansion in space.
bluesky - 12th Aug, 2016
I know there wasn't any space and time before the big bang. What my thoughts about this matter are that there could have been energy before the big bang which caused the big bang. Energy is always there, now and even then. But I still cannot answer what is non-space and non-time
Jondipan jatunga - 16th Aug, 2016
The laws of physics allow something to be created from nothing. But that means that the laws of physics had to exist before the big bang. So i am confused.
Charles - 12th Sep, 2016
So many theories out there, maybe the big bang happened from a previous universe shrinking back on itself and exploded again or maybe the big was the other end of a black hole, gushing out energy or maybe 2 universes collided in hyper space and caused an explosion, a big bang.
Juan de Leon - 20th Sep, 2016
If the Universe is infinite, then why wouldn't time be infinite? Why would there just be one big bang? There may have been an infinite amount of big bangs. Does time begin at each big bang? Does it end when matter spreads too far apart and our perception of "nothingness" takes over? Or is the period of "nothingness" considered part of time? If we travel beyond the farthest reaches of light that occurred from our big bang and continue through the region of "nothingness", will we eventually reach light generated from a different big bang? Now are we part of another measure of time? If space is truly infinity does that make it impossible for time to exists?
Jeff Pelkey - 21st Sep, 2016
What is matter and energy expanding into? what is beyond the universe or multipurse? if it happens in the future that we are able to travel beyond our universe and let us assume there is only one universe, are we not going into a void? Isn't that void a space? .Isnt space synonymous with vacuum beyond the matter,whole matter in the univere.?
lekoona - 25th Sep, 2016
Maybe there is something beyond the physical universe that our senses are unable to detect. We believe the physical universe exists only because our senses are reporting this to our brains. What if something exists beyond our sense perceptions? What if this is only the most recent Big Bang? And some unseen force is constantly creating or becoming the universe and then withdrawing it. Like a breathing cycle. We always assume that the Big Bang was the only one ever, but it may only have been the most recent.
Norman Scherer - 26th Sep, 2016
This is deep. Our natural biology dictates that every thing that has a begining has an end. Natural science attests to this fact. How ever, in order for one to fully digest this all consuming subject of the begining of everything that we can and can not see, one has to somehow seek answers elesewhere. We are being limited by religion, science and philosphy. Its at this point that i realise that mankind is insignificant in this whole drama. Maybe our universe is just a simple science project in a glass container of a young alien of sorts. But this again is giving me a head ache. It just raises more tougher questions than answers. I end here.
Ernest sianga - 28th Sep, 2016
Regarding the section about God: We can ask what caused an event, however, it is illogical to ask what caused an entity. If the entity came into existence, we can ask what caused the entity to come into existence (since coming into existence is an event), but if the entity always existed, such a question is illogical. This is why the original question was "What caused the big bang?" - an event, not "what caused the universe?" - an entity. For example, before the big bang theory there was the Steady state theory - that there was no big bang but rather the universe always existed, there would be no question of cause, since the universe always existed. It was only with the advent of the big bang theory - that this question arose what caused the big bang...
Yaakov A. Sternberg - 15th Oct, 2016
However, perhaps we can phrase the question differently - "What caused God to create the Universe?"... But for some reason that question doesn't seem as strong to me... Perhaps because it can be answered by simply saying that God caused himself to create the universe...
Yaakov A. Sternberg - 15th Oct, 2016
I THINK THAT THAT THE MOLECULES WENT SUPERCHARGED AND CREATED MATTER BEFORE THE NEUTRONS WERE SO DENSE IT EXPLODED WITH MATTER.
JIMJIM - 17th Oct, 2016
Are we to develop a new senses one day that allows us to understand, a 7th or 8th sense? Did we have these senses and lost them? If so, how do we get it back? What could have been the cause and effect of losing them?
Barry Mason - 22nd Oct, 2016
The universe was created by God. I haven't the faintest idea how He did it but He did, nothing but nothing else fits or works. For humans, everything has a beginning and an end, reference points; time itself only came into being with the Big Bang and it provides us with our very first reference point ie, literally 'the beginning.' God exists outside of time (He would have to if he were responsible for the Big Bang. There is no possible scientific explanation for God because science is constrained by time and space, God isn't. It's a great comfort to me to know that an indescribable force for good is responsible for this indescribably wonderful universe....and to think, I'm part of it - Wow!!
Dennis Wheatley - 24th Oct, 2016
maybe there were many big bangs - per folded universe... including ours. we may be nothing - but we are still here. in memory of dr. carl sagan and gene roddenberry - let us look at an infinite diversity in indefinite combination of possibilities. may our universe is just a simple science project of a humble god or goddesses. maybe they would like us to be nonviolent, avoiding aggression, and nonsinning, avoiding harm, to each other. however, our cosmos or infiniverse or whatever was made - buddha, tao, gods, and goddesses bless to all and all ways of searching. who knows - maybe it is all a ever changing science project of something beyond the gods and goddesses. cheers! to a creation without end.
akima tendo - 12th Nov, 2016
f you ask me the thing that triggered the big bang is the coration of atoms, in an atom all the mass of the atom is in the nucleus yet it is the smallest part of the atom. If there was a pin in the midle of the bigest stadium, if the head of the pin was the nucleus the first shell would be the outside of the nucleus (That means the gravitational pull must be massive). If at the begining of time It was all just the mass in one plase it would be incredibly small just as the big bang sujests the formation of atoms would massively make it expand causing the big bang. Also it would explane black holes a bit move because of the massive gravitational pull in small quantitys could well cause a black hole. This is Tom Greenfield. Please reply to the coment and don't hesitate to prove me wrong.
tom - 19th Nov, 2016
Although the concept of an eternal God may be hard to grasp, we can see that it makes sense.The existence of an orderly universe containing life points to a Creator. Furthermore, we know that the universe at one time did not exist. (Genesis 1:1, 2) Where did it come from? Its Creator had to exist first. Clearly, then, he existed alone first. This means that God has always existed, no matter how far back in time we cast our gaze. And he will always exist in the future. (Revelation 1:8) Thus, his eternal existence is a fundamental attribute of the Almighty. Our own existence and that of the entire universe testifies to the existence of an eternal God. The One who put our vast universe in motion, the One who established the laws to control it, must have always existed. Only he could have breathed life into everything else.—Job 33:4. For more info visit jw.org
Zinxero - 22nd Nov, 2016
I'm glad that your website found me.I've had a million questions about our universe.Well one of your commenters stated that Physics laws existed always even before the Big Bang. Thus the potential for our universe was there without time existing. There was no space or void or empty space til matter began to occupy it.I can't believe that there was a vacuum but,a Physics professor I had 50 years ago told me that nature abhors a vacuum. That's the only answer I've came across that puts my mind at ease. It doesn't revel an answer but I may never get a satisfactory it. So I must say everyone just keep pressing ahead. Someone will figure out a TOE. I'm trusting that your friend Tom!
Thomas Patterson - 28th Nov, 2016
If there is no time yet before the big bang, doesn't that mean that the big bang should not be happenning at all? What is happening outside the universe?
Yan arie motinggo - 4th Dec, 2016
what i want to know is what made god and what made the thing that made god REPEAT. are you following me? and what made time itself?
Lennon Russel Poupore - 10th Dec, 2016
That matter can come from nothing is plausible, this can happen by simply reversing anti-matter to matter. It sounds skeptical but this can be understood just like in black holes where matter disappears. This could be the break through to explaining the big bang theory.
maisiba - 13th Dec, 2016
May be question to ask is "why did the Big Bang occur" focussing away from any notion of space and time.
Vijay - 14th Dec, 2016
"The cause of the universe must not include [time and space]... It must come from outside our experience. In this realm... it is possible to have an event with no cause." By your own admission, the cause has to exist, and it has to exist in a "realm... where there is simply no cause and effect," Yet when provided with a solution that meets all of your requirements, you dismiss it, saying "From where did the creator come?" Did it occur to you that the creator comes from a realm where there is no cause and effect?
Isaac Ferguson - 15th Dec, 2016
By stating that the universe is expanding you must also infer that there is some type of "barrier" being pushed as it does so. What is beyond the point that the universe has not yet expanded to? Perhaps if we are able to meet, keep up with, and then exceed the speed at which it is expanding we can find our answer out "there"?
Ash Scott - 20th Dec, 2016
Time and space do not exist. We as humans have to make up the concept of time and space to try to figure something out or measure it's existence. Thus we are only holding back our minds and putting a cap on the possibilities. Take time and space out of the equation and you'll have your answer.
Richard J. Granger Jr. - 20th Dec, 2016
I love your information. It really helped me do my project on the Big Bang Theory.
John Smith - 31st Dec, 2016
If aithiests believe there is something beyond space and time that our minds can't comprehend than why do they refuse to believe in God? God isn't IN existence he IS existence and infinitely more.
Rafi Weinstein - 2nd Jan, 2017
Time can happen outside of the big bang it just wouldn't affect anything right? Or does time need matter to perceive it? I'm confused. If time is only made by matter than how would the big bang happen. It would need a specific time to happen yet all matter didn't exist before it so...Universe=Paradox
John Smith - 3rd Jan, 2017
If Big Bang marks the beginning of all space, time, and energy, and that the universe emerged from absolutely nothing, then how indeed could there have been a cause? I have recently published an eBook titled: A Theory of Everything, subtitled: From Absolutely Nothing to Sentience. This is the very first publication of a model which describes the universe as having emerged from absolutely nothing - yet had a cause.
Marc Tiltman - 14th Jan, 2017
The answer to this question can only be known by knowing the one who asks. We are not separate from the universe; we are not entities on the outside looking in. We are the substance and being of the universe itself. Even if one were to be told the final meaning of all things, the question would remain: ”who is it that now knows?" The consciousness that even now reads this writing is inconceivable. It is beyond imagination. The answer to every question lies not without; it lies within. Who is it that reads these words? What is this moment? Look inwards to the nature of your own being. This is the path of enlightenment. For those who wish to follow this path, you need only read the Buddha's original words.
Muchi of the mountains - 15th Jan, 2017
Time is basically the ability for something to change. Without time, nothing can change. For time comes in moments, each moment is like a frame in a movie. If there were no frames (or just one frame), then no changes could be made. So if time didn't exist BEFORE the big bang, then how could the change be made to bring time INTO existence? Plus, how could there be a "before the big bang" if time didn't exist then? How can one say: "Time didn't exist at the time"? In general, if you start with time, as the first thing to be created in the universe, then it's all good. Because changes can be made, to add or remove objects from or to the universe. But if you do not start with time, but instead a singularity as mentioned in the big bang theory, then no changes can be made, not even the change to bring time into existence. Time's existence itself reveals many things to us.
Part Toon - 24th Jan, 2017
Could it simply be gravity like in a black hole just infinitely bigger and released it's energy not at high pressure more like a rip than a pin hole
John McMahon - 25th Jan, 2017
An interesting thing to keep in mind when contemplating the origin of the big bang is that an object's motion through space is interrelated to its passage through time. As Einstein showed us at the beginning of the 20th century, the faster one moves through space relative to some other object, the slower one's time passes relative to that other object. So if one were to reach the speed of light relative to some other object--which is mathematically and theoretically impossible--then one's time would have stopped. As Brian Green explains in his awesome book The Elegant Universe, we actually do move through four-dimensional space-time at the speed of light: our combined movement through the three spatial dimensions plus our passage through time add up to exactly the speed of light; therefore, moving faster in space takes away from one's passage through time and therefore slows one's passage through time down.
Joseph Huff - 20th Feb, 2017
What if some higher power ( maybe an alien race) that has massive computing power written a program to simulate our universe? What if we are just living in a machine and our consciousness is nothing more than bits of information? But then that would raise the same question,who created the universe of the alien race that created our universe? Maybe that alien race is also in some sort of computational simulation created by another powerful alien race? Then who created the universe in which those powerful alien race are in? Now all of a sudden, there's a simulation within a simulation. And the rate at which computational technology is developing right now, pretty soon there will be virtual reality games that are indistinguishable from reality, which means one day our human race would be able to create our own simulation of another universe. And then the entities in our simulation would develop and be able to create its own simulation, and so on.
michael - 21st Feb, 2017
To the author: I see your problem - your reasoning is faulty. You state "A creator that has always existed is an entity that somehow exists without a cause." Every effect has a cause. But no serious student of philosophy would ever submit that every cause has a cause. Common sense dictates that there must be a first cause, an uncaused cause, for which there is no prior cause. Otherwise, we would have an infinite regression of causes, and would not be here, today. Your primary assumption is faulty. Please revise and re-write the article. You will be surprised how much things change.
John Smith - 23rd Feb, 2017
I didn't specify that I am a Christian at first because I didn't want to be attacked :P Either way, the author's explanation for God's absence, I believe, was made out of misunderstanding of His (God's) true nature. God is infinite, and because He is infinite, He is infinite in every aspect, including space, time, knowledge, life, ability, power, presence, etc. Because He has infinite time, thus an infinite timeline, His infinite timeline spans infinitely in both directions of past and future. Because of this, He exists eternally. I'd explain it better, but there's a 1000 character limit.
Part Toon - 4th Mar, 2017
So what you are saying is that the blackness of space was created by the Big Band? I do understand how this could work if it weren't for the question, "What's outside the universe?" More blackness of space? But means that there is space that the Big Bang didn't create. So, that means there might be some kind of "anti-space." Be free to leave any comments.
Jake Stall - 10th Mar, 2017
So what you are saying is that the blackness of space was created by the Big Band? I do understand how this could work if it weren't for the question, "What's outside the universe?" More blackness of space? But means that there is space that the Big Bang didn't create. So, that means there might be some kind of "anti-space." Be free to leave any comments.
Jake Stall - 10th Mar, 2017
Our brains doesn't want to accept the idea of an eternal and infinite being but sadly that's the truth. We are nothing but characters that can write their own stories and make their own decisions without the need of outside inputs. How do I know? If you were everything and knew everything what else could you do with your existence but to create something outside yourself. We are not that different from God, just like the characters we create aren't that different from us. Know yourself and you will know God. One day we will be like God and create characters with AI so advanced that they will be like us and it's because they are like us that we will create an infinite world in which they can't find us, then their will ask themselves the same question and come to the same conclusion. Live your life, do what's best for humanity and stop asking questions you already know the answers to..... or don't, I don't care.
Aidoneus - 11th Mar, 2017
If the big bang didn't create to known universe what New universe is it expanding to.
Bernard Gustavis - 17th Apr, 2017
Really it was a problem that I found in Big Bang which makes it useless but still it's a good theory .After working on it for last 3 months I think I have found an answer that can get rid off this question.If anyone is interested plz reply me or send me email shaiykhbhatarman@gmail.com or call me on this no 91+7006761663
Shaiykh bhat Arman ayoub - 12th May, 2017
If the expansion rate of the universe was just a little weaker, gravity would have pulled matter back into its original state.if the expansion rate was a fraction greater than it was, then all stars, planets and other galaxies couldn't have been formed. The "Big Bang" was very very very finely tuned for life to exist.
Omar Islim - 28th May, 2017
The Big Bang: The Big Bang is the universe’s earliest known event i.e. earliest moments of the big bang and location of the big bang is- everywhere or every place in the universe. What powered the Big Bang…and what came before it? Answer of the question: At the time of beginning of the creation a part of the power of the Nature became divisible as a result of the big bang. More information of Big Bang at https://shahidurrahmansikder.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/big-bang/
Shahidur Rahman Sikder - 1st Jul, 2017
In an aymptote if the curved line never crosses the straight line that it approaches, why can't each previous universe that is half as long as the universe that succeeds it, never converge to a universe with zero length?
Jane - 28th Jul, 2017
I will quote two lines from what you wrote: "A creator that has always existed is an entity that somehow exists without a cause. So this answer doesn't solve the causality issue whatsoever." "our brains have evolved to assume that everything has a cause, we can't imagine any event ever not having one" Quite contradicting won't you say? Saying that one answer can't be true because it doesn't solve causality and then saying we need to look for solutions not bound by causality... Just thinking but this article actually led me to research religion more
Tiny Ford - 7th Aug, 2017
I have a theory as there was no time or space and there was a substamce possibly and because of the lack of time and space this substance continiously duplicated it self and this substance appeared in the same place and due to friction there was a explosion causing the process to stop because for that explosion was the big bang and because of the big bang time and space was created and we are exploding into the substance absorbing more of that substance and there Just might be more universe with which we might collide and becuse of absorbing that substance the universe is expanding
Jawad yusuf chowdhury - 9th Aug, 2017
how do we know that the big bang came from a miniscule point instead of all of that matter and energy simply coming into existence at once? If so, where is that point? Also, isn't an intangible, unknowable essence that has no beginning or end possible?
George Barnett - 12th Aug, 2017
Perfect discussion, It just used science to prove god What do explain? Science How do everything began according to science? Big Bang!! What causes the big bang to happen? Everyone is quiet,then one will say "God" Not even science can say no to this,science cannot explain everything,but by simply having beliefs, it will calm our minds,"All begins with the big bang,big bang begins with God and everything is ended by God, the revelation isn't coming if we are not ready,there are so much to be done,Utopia is not even Made yet.it was us people who should move.
Vein Moose,a simple youtuber - 28th Aug, 2017
I believe it makes sense that God is a being who is uncreated outside of the laws of cause and effect. God transcends the universe and operates in time and space as well as in a timeless state, which would be infinite dimensions compared to our three dimension plus time universe. In other words, God is perfectly capable of operating in both inside and outside of our universe as He pleases. Furthermore since God is the First Cause of all things, He is not necessarily bound by our universal cause and effect situation.
Larry Walden - 22nd Sep, 2017
Appreciate the discussion, but this is not quite right: "100 years ago, we couldn't imagine that our galaxy was only one in an ocean of one hundred billion. 200 years ago, we couldn't imagine that the stars were more than 13,000 light years away. 500 years ago, we couldn't imagine that the Earth revolved around the Sun." It's not that we "couldn't imagine." It's only that the majority "did not believe." Those are quite different things. On the other hand, the idea of a causeless something is a concept that we can't really comprehend. I'm agnostic. I call this god. What does this imply about god? Beyond the above, I really don't know. Not satisfying for everyone, but I accept that there are some things we cannot scientifically know.
Laramie - 23rd Sep, 2017
You're trying to use God to explain the big bang saying that God is infinite. How can something be infite? Would that not mean that a God would have no beginning and how does something nit have a beginning ? Would that not raise the same questions like what "was" before the big bang if there was no time and no space and would a God not contain space and adhere to time and how can you belive in a God and not in other God's if they all could explain the big bang? Hiw could you also say that our minds cannot comprehend existence beyond time and space if both measurements are relative ? Maybe the big bang is just the wrong answer to the beginning of the universe and the expanding universe is otherwise explaineble
Guywin Blankenberg - 25th Sep, 2017
I know this may sound radical for the theory of this. But ponder this for me if you could. We do not know what is at the end of a black hole. We all understand the concept that all things enter. Light, atoms, gases, etc but what could happen to those objects at the other end of it? Where would they spew out? Could it be possible that our universe was begun by a black whole spewing out an explosion we know as the Big bang?
S. Harig - 30th Sep, 2017
The old book "Flatland" about a society of plane figures offers some insights about trying to understand something "outside" your universe and hence outside the way your brain and experience is organized. For those thinking about these things from a Biblical perspective, the realization that God is not "in" time is enormously important, may even offer some clarity on discussions about free-will (our perception from "in" time) and determinism (seen by God from "outside"the space-time universe.)
Ellen Weaver - 1st Oct, 2017
If you ask me, it is entirely possible to have multi universes and parallel ones too. I do believe that we may be a test experiment of some kind, possibly. The idea is far reached, but entirely possible. There is also a theory that our universe is caused by a collision of other universes, which caused one to split in half, sucking out large amounts of energy and time, but creating us also. Yet again, it is crazy, but it also brings us to the beginning: who created the creator or what created us?
Joyce Lamper - 3rd Oct, 2017
Wow thank you. You helped me with my essay that rocks, I will recommend you to my friends and teacher. You rock! Keep up with the good work.
Ari - 6th Oct, 2017
"If the answer is "he always existed" then we have a situation, from a causality standpoint, that is no more satisfying than a universe that springs forth from nothing. A creator that has always existed is an entity that somehow exists without a cause." You previously said that time must be taken out of the equation, since it didn't exist. If there was no time, and time is a dimensional measurement of events, then no cause is necessary, since only one 'event' can exist, just like the zeroth point. What we can reasonably claim is that there was never a time with absolutely nothing, or we wouldn't be here. So one thing had to exist, before something else came from it, and time/space began. Don't forget that we're talking about *physical* space, which doesn't rule out other 'realms'. We have this concept of the heavens, which was never specified as being 'in the clouds', other than by and for people with limited understanding - so that they might comprehend the concept.
Chris Cooper - 10th Oct, 2017
I just read some other comments, and it turns out that I have indirectly answered Joe's questions, except for 'What is the universe expanding into?' The universe isn't expanding into anything, it's just expanding. There's nothing outside of it to be 'filled', but we would perceive it as darkness, since there's no light there to see. Darkness is only a lack of light, which means that it never exists, except as a concept. ======== Tangent ======== I like to think of any action that goes against God, as darkness. Evil doesn't exist in itself, we're just aware when there's no light, and as with darkness we give it a name. ======================== Imagine that the room you're in has no outside. Not air, not more wall, only the room and it's contents. This is like our physical universe. Our problem is that when we try to imagine nothing, we imagine something. Don't imagine anything. That is what was there.
Chris Cooper - 11th Oct, 2017