Perhaps the biggest most compelling cosmic question ever asked has been “how was the universe born” and even more though provoking, “what was here before there was a universe”. The common belief is that a “big bang” started it all. A new theory suggests that what we perceive as the big bang could simply be the three-dimensional “mirage”of a collapsing star in a universe profoundly different than our own.
“Cosmology’s greatest challenge is understanding the big bang itself,” writes Perimeter Institute Associate Faculty member Niayesh Afshordi, Affiliate Faculty member and University of Waterloo Professor Robert Mann (no relation), and PhD student Razieh Pourhasan.
The common and long held theory suggests that the big bang began with a singularity — an unfathomably hot and dense phenomenon of spacetime where the standard laws of physics break down. Singularities are bizarre, and our understanding of them is limited. In fact even in my favorite TV show, “Star Trek” which comprises 726 episodes each an every the crew has encountered singularities the mighty starship crew struggles to understand what is happening and usually bizarre adventures abound.
So getting back to the “Big Bang” theory (not the TV show). The problem, as the authors of this hypothesis see it, is that the big bang therory has our relatively comprehensible, uniform, and predictable universe arising from the physics-destroying insanity of a singularity. It seems unlikely, atleast to them. It is because singularities are random and chaotic and our universe has physical rules that seem to apply.
How can a universe where the rules of physics apply be born from an event of such chaos and randomness such as “the big bang”? That is the basic question theorists such as these struggle with.
So perhaps something else happened. Perhaps our universe was never singular in the first place. Maybe – just maybe the big bang theory is wrong.
Their suggestion is that our known universe could be the three-dimensional “wrapping” around a four-dimensional black hole’s event horizon. What?
In this scenario, our universe burst into being when a star in a four-dimensional universe collapsed into a black hole. Double What?
In our three-dimensional universe, black holes have two-dimensional event horizons — that is, they are surrounded by a two-dimensional boundary that marks the “point of no return.” In the case of a four-dimensional universe, a black hole would have a three-dimensional event horizon.
In their proposed scenario, our universe was never inside the singularity. The result being that our universe came into existent outside an event horizon, protected from the singularity. It originated as, and remains, just one feature in the imploded wreck of a four-dimensional star.
The theorists here suggest a parallel to Plato’s allegory of the cave, in which prisoners spend their lives seeing only the flickering shadows cast by a fire on a cavern wall.
“Their shackles have prevented them from perceiving the true world, a realm with one additional dimension,” they write. “Plato’s prisoners didn’t understand the powers behind the sun, just as we don’t understand the four-dimensional bulk universe. But at least they knew where to look for answers.”
Weird things happen in and around a singularity. For example in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Parallax,” the quantum singularity creates a mirror image and a temporal distortion as Voyager travels through it.
Now I for sure have no idea if there is reality with this latest theory of how our universe came into existence but it certainly has a charm to it and it sounds remarkably close to an episode of Star Trek or two…