Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In the Beginning

An article in New Scientist explores the question, "Has the cosmos existed forever, or did something bring it into existence?" The article points out that scientists believe that the universe started as a quantum fluctuation but then poses this additional question:
If the universe owes its origins to quantum theory, then quantum theory must have existed before the universe. So the next question is surely: where did the laws of quantum theory come from? "We do not know," admits [cosmologist Alex] Vilenkin. "I consider that an entirely different question." When it comes to the beginning of the universe, in many ways we're still at the beginning.
The consensus view is that the universe experienced a "Big Bang" but that this event was not the actual beginning. The beginning was in fact a hot, unimaginably dense state which produced the "Bang," but what then caused this state and why did it produce the universe when it did?

Vilenkin and others are coming to the conclusion that the universe is not eternal, that the original hot, dense state came into existence at some point, but how and why is still a mystery. There is at this stage of our knowledge no physical mechanism that's a plausible candidate for the initial cause.

Hmmm. I wonder, then, if there could be a non-physical cause that brought it all into being.