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Did something exist before the beginning of everything?
Beyond a theological explanation like “God”, that would satisfy the religious, the experts have sought to solve the enigma that does not allow the most eminent minds to rest in the matter.
Science in general accepts the theory of the Big Bang: that moment, about 13,800 million years ago in which a great explosion launched in all directions all the matter that there is and set the time in a universe that continues to expand.
Many of us may still have difficulty rationally understanding how a tiny dot, smaller than an atom, contained an unimaginable density and energy from which everything that exists has sprung.
It is even more difficult to understand what was before that Big Bang.
However, the well-known theoretical physicist, cosmologist and British author Stephen Hawking has made the attempt recently to formulate an explanation intelligible to us mortals.
In a television program in the US, the American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson asked Hawking directly: “What was there before the Big Bang?”
The British scientist’s opinion is that what existed before that big explosion was … basically … nothing.
Do not be scared, though. With that he did not mean that there was no matter or antimatter.
What it is referring to is that nothing that could have existed before the beginning of the universe, as we know it, has something to do with what came next .
So that everything that existed can not be contemplated in any theory that we formulate to explain our observations.
For Hawking, at the time of the Big Bang, the universe was a singularity, a moment in which all the laws of physics would cease to apply.
So the universe evolved independently of what it was before. Even the amount of matter in the Universe may be different from what was before because the Law of the Conservation of Matter would not apply at the time of the Big Bang.
“According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, space and time together make up a continuum of spacetime or variation, which is not flat but curved by the matter and energy it contains,” Hawking said in the program.
“I adopt a Euclidean (three-dimensional) approach to quantum gravity to describe the beginning of the Universe,” he continued.
“In this, real and ordinary time is replaced by imaginary time, which behaves as a fourth dimension of space.”
“In the Euclidean interpretation, the history of the universe in imaginary time is a curved surface in fourth dimension, like the surface of the Earth but with two additional dimensions”.
The way to explain this is to imagine that we are close to the South Pole, for example. If we walk a little to the south, we will finally reach the pole but, once there, we will not be able to continue further south.
The rules of direction and guidance that normally guide us on Earth do not apply.
” There’s nothing south of the South Pole, so there was nothing before the Big Bang ,” Hawking said.
His conclusions fit the condition “without borders” of the Universe that Professor Hawking formulated in collaboration with James Hartle, of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
In other words, the space-time continuum is an endless closed surface, like the surface of the Earth, on which we can keep walking eternally without falling from it.