16. Wondering about what, if anything happened before the Big Bang

The next time that you or I blow up our chests and think, and as well as act, as if we are so very important that the Universe was made for the pleasure and use of Man alone perhaps you and I should think again. The time that the human race has existed is in Cosmic time shorter than your next breath. One way to bring Mankind down to earth is to look at what Carl Sagan called his “Cosmic Calendar.”

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Within the scheme of Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar,” and the average human life being some 70-80 years, this life would be equivalent to approximately 0.16 cosmic seconds. To me this does not mean that Man is less important but in contrast I believe since we are all part of this wonderful wholeness that Man and all else is more important, and meaningful. Because of this fact, we, Mankind, all have a greater responsibility to all others and any other entity within the Cosmos.

Do you remember the high school math class when you learned that the whole is the sum of its parts? What this means to me is that the whole can’t be a whole unless it has all its parts. Therefor the Cosmos cannot function properly unless all its part functions in a proper manner. So we are very important. We are only so if we think of ourselves in relation to all other parts of the Cosmos.

For the reader to better as well as appreciate the above statement that the whole is made up of all its parts, therefore making the parts of the whole so very important below is a brief explanation of what occurred in the cosmos from the time of the Big Bang, the beginning of time and of our known universe.

The Big Bang!


13.7 Ga Big Bang
t = 0 — seconds Universe begins in an instant in time. It grows.
t = 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds — Planck Time
Gravity separates from the other fundamental forces. Physics works!

?? Known physics cannot explain the properties of the Universe between the Big Bang and the Planck Time. To understand this period, gravity, which controls the interactions of the largest scales, and quantum mechanics, which describes the behavior of the smallest scales, must be united.

Universe is incredibly dense and hot, about a billion billion billion times hotter than the Earth today. This early universe contains only elementary particles (like protons) and energy. No planets, stars, or galaxies exist yet.

t = 0.001 second — Universe has no center and no edge but it expands. (Balloon Analogy)
Particles of matter and antimatter annihilate one another. For every two billion and one particles created in the Universe, two billion are destroyed. The universe continues to expand and cool.

t = 3 minutes — The simplest atomic nuclei are formed from protons and neutrons.
The matter in the Universe is about 75% Hydrogen and 25% Helium by mass, with a little Lithium and Beryllium. But it is still too hot for electrons to attach to nuclei to form atoms. Particles of light – photons – continually collide with electrons. Though these energetic photons move at the speed of light, they cannot travel far in the Universe. (See the Periodic Table of Elements.)

The energetic cosmic background radiation still prevents electrons from combining with nuclei. The universe is hot and opaque, but continues to expand.
t = 300,000 years — Era of Recombination

Atoms form when the Universe will cool to about ten times the temperature of the Earth today. The Universe becomes transparent: the cosmic background radiation is free to travel through space. We can observe these photons from the beginning of time (see Cosmic Microwave Background).

Gravity pulls matter together: regions of higher density grow. The Universe becomes lumpy.

t = 1 billion years (12.7 Ga) — Galaxies, clusters,and superclusters of galaxies form as immense clouds of gas collapse due to gravity. Stars form from the Hydrogen and Helium gas. (See Hubble Ultra Deep Field.)

The stars create elements heavier than Hydrogen and Helium in their interiors. The new elements are ejected from the stars by winds, planetary nebulae, and supernova explosions. The heavy elements mix with gas that forms new stars. (See more about Star Birth.)

t = 8.7 billion years years (5 Ga) — Our solar system – the Sun, planets, asteroids, comets, and moons – forms from supernova debris (gas enriched by heavy elements). All the atoms in the periodic table are now present, including carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, iron, gold, and uranium. These elements that are so necessary to create the Earth, life, and you were formed deep inside another star. (See more about Nucleosynthesis and review the Periodic Table of Elements.)


What is Planck length?
The Planck length is the scale at which classical ideas about gravity and space-time cease to be valid, and quantum effects dominate. This is the ‘quantum of length’, the smallest measurement of length with any meaning.

The Planck time is the time it would take a photon traveling at the speed of light to across a distance equal to the Planck length. This is the ‘quantum of time’, the smallest measurement of time that has any meaning to today’s science.

According to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity the speed of light is a constant. That speed is 187,000 miles per second. Also according to Einstein the closer that matter comes to the speed of light the more it will slow up and never reach the speed of light. If the speed of light was reached time would not exist.

The Famous Balloon Analogy:
A good way to help visualize the expanding universe is to compare space with the surface of an expanding balloon. This analogy was used by Arthur Eddington as early as 1933 in his book The Expanding Universe. It was also used by Fred Hoyle in the 1960 edition of his popular book The Nature of the Universe. Hoyle wrote, “My non-mathematical friends often tell me that they find it difficult to picture this expansion. Short of using a lot of mathematics I cannot do better than use the analogy of a balloon with a large number of dots marked on its surface. If the balloon is blown up the distances between the dots increase in the same way as the distances between the galaxies.”

Why is it called a “Background”?
We refer to this radiation as a background because we see it no matter where we look. It clearly doesn’t come from any nearby objects, such as stars or clouds within our Galaxy, or even from external galaxies. It is clearly a distant, “background” source of radiation. You can think of the whole Universe as being filled with this background of microwave photons.

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