Saturday, December 11, 2010

Before the beginning was the ending?

Ever since Einstein's own evidence forced him to abandon the idea of an eternal universe, some people have asked,  What existed before the universe was born?    Once answer might be another universe, which makes some kind of deep sense to me, even if it sparks other questions-- but doesn't it seem impossible for evidence of previous universes to exist, if you think that one entire universe must disappear before another can be born?

Well, guess what?  A hint may actually exist. Wired Magazine has a story about theoretical physicist Roger Penrose and his team of researchers' work.

The researchers base their findings on circular patterns they discovered in the cosmic microwave background, the ubiquitous microwave glow left over from the Big Bang. The circular features indicate that the cosmos itself circles through epochs of endings and beginnings, Penrose and Gurzadyan assert. The researchers describe their controversial findings in an article posted at on November 17.

The circular features are regions where tiny temperature variations in the otherwise uniform microwave background are smaller than average. Those features, Penrose said, cannot be explained by the highly successful inflation theory, which posits that the infant cosmos underwent an enormous growth spurt, ballooning from something on the scale of an atom to the size of a grapefruit during the universe’s first tiny fraction of a second. Inflation would either erase such patterns or could not easily generate them.

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