birth of the Universe
famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist
Mark A. Carter reprints an article from
Science Daily courtesy of the
Perimeter Institute and comments on how it relates to
Joe Cooper's journey through a black hole as depicted in the
And it doesn't bode well for Joe Cooper
and Amelia Brand.
big bang poses a big question: if it was indeed the
cataclysm that blasted our universe into existence
13.7 billion years ago, what sparked it?
Three Perimeter Institute researchers have a new idea
about what might have come before the
big bang. It's a bit perplexing, but it is grounded in
sound mathematics. But is it testable?
Before the Big Bang
Image courtesy of Perimeter Institute
What we perceive as the
big bang, they argue, could be the
three-dimensional mirage of a collapsing star
in a universe profoundly different than our own.
greatest challenge is understanding the big bang itself,"
write Perimeter Institute
Associate Faculty member Niayesh
Afshordi, Affiliate Faculty member and
University of Waterloo professor
Robert Mann, and PhD
student Razieh Pourhasan.
Conventional understanding holds
that the big bang began with
a singularity - an unfathomably
hot and dense phenomenon of space-time
where the standard laws of physics break down. Singularities
are bizarre, and our understanding of them is limited.
all physicists know, dragons could have come flying out of the
singularity," Afshordi says in an interview with
The problem, as the authors see
it, is that the big bang hypothesis
has our relatively comprehensible, uniform, and predictable
universe arising from the physics-destroying
insanity of a singularity. It seems unlikely.
So perhaps something else happened.
Perhaps our universe was never singular in the first place.
Their suggestion: our known universe
could be the three-dimensional wrapping
around a four-dimensional black hole's event horizon.
In this scenario, our universe burst into being when a
star in a four-dimensional universe collapsed into a black hole.
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
In their proposed scenario, our
universe was never inside the singularity;
rather, it came into being
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 researchers emphasize that
this idea, though it may sound absurd, is grounded firmly in
the best modern mathematics describing space and time. Specifically,
they've used the tools of holography
to "turn the big bang
into a cosmic mirage." Along the way, their model
appears to address long-standing cosmological puzzles and crucially
produce testable predictions.
Of course, our intuition tends
to recoil at the idea that everything and everyone we know
emerged from the event horizon of a single four-dimensional black
hole. We have no concept of what a
four-dimensional universe might look like. We don't know
how a four-dimensional parent universe itself came to be.
But our fallible human intuitions,
the researchers argue, evolved in a
three-dimensional world that may only reveal
shadows of reality.
They draw 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.
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."
1. Razieh Pourhasan, Niayesh Afshordi,
Robert B. Mann. Out of the White Hole: A Holographic Origin for
the Big Bang. arXiv, 2014.
Institute. "The black hole at the birth of the Universe."
ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140807145618.htm>.
So, as I see it, in
Interstellar, when astronaut
Joe Cooper slipped over the
event horizon of the black
hole known as Gargantua,
he underwent what British astrophysicist
Sir Martin Rees coined as
spaghettification. In other words,
Joe Cooper would have become a stream of subatomic particles
swirling into the black hole.
He simply could not survive the tidal
pressure of the singularity
within. But even if he did survive, he would not be the
same Coop that we saw earlier.
He would not be able to have the endearing scene with his daughter
Murphy on her death bed. He
could not steal a spacecraft from
Cooper Station orbitting Saturn
and reenter the wormhole
to join Amelia Brand on the
world she now inhabited alone. According to this latest theory
coming out of the Perimeter Institute,
a three dimensional
being passing over a two dimensional
event horizon would turn into a
two dimensional being as flat as paper. And there goes
the potential Adam and Eve