In my last post, I posited that, like other “indisputable” theories in the history of science, the Big Bang Theory may have to be rethought. I recently received a note from a new friend and thoughtful reader of my book No Regrets Living in which he shared yet another reason to wonder if the Big Bang Theory is about to bite the proverbial space dust. The news feature my Canadian friend shared reported on a theory by Nobel Prize-winning mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose called Conformal Cyclic Cosmology. Penrose’s theory holds that there was a universe which preceded ours, or perhaps there have been numerous preceding universes, and that the Big Bang was simply the end of that earlier universe.
For those of us not steeped in mathematical physics, the basis for Penrose’s theory is tough to understand, but in a nutshell it claims that the evidence for a prior universe can be found in the type of radiation emitted from black holes. A black hole is an area of space where matter and energy have collapsed on themselves. A black hole has such a strong gravitational pull that light cannot escape, hence it’s “black.” In Sir Roger’s words, “I claim that there is observation of Hawking radiation (emitted from black holes). The Big Bang was not the beginning. There was something before the Big Bang and that something is what we will have in our future.” Meaning the cycle of universes forming and then devolving into black holes, only to have new universes form will continue ad infinitum.
So…how to we get our arms around theories of such magnitude that only Nobel Prize-winning physicists can conceive and perceive of them? My answer is…we don’t even try. The takeaway from reports like this, and like the observation of formed galaxies too well-developed to have resulted from the Big Bang (as I described in my previous post on this site), or even today’s CNN story about a discovery by scientists at my alma mater, the University of Colorado, which reports as follows:
“Scientists noticed strong radio waves coming from the star YZ Ceti and the rocky exoplanet that orbits it, called YZ Ceti b, during observations using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array of telescopes in New Mexico. The researchers believe the radio signal was created by interactions between the planet’s magnetic field and the star.” HUH?
The scientists involved went on to say:
“The search for potentially habitable or life-bearing worlds in other solar systems depends in part on being able to determine if rocky, Earth-like exoplanets actually have magnetic fields. This research shows not only that this particular rocky exoplanet likely has a magnetic field but provides a promising method to find more.”
Don’t even try to understand all of this. What do I mean by that? I mean we should share the wonder of the unknown and accept that most of what exists today, in our universe or in past or future universes, will NEVER be understood. No matter how much our intellectual capacity increases over eons, or how much Artificial Intelligence we create and employ, we will NEVER understand where it all started or where it will end.
Between reality and our understanding of that reality there lies a huge chasm. Some choose to fill that chasm with religion and faith. Much more about the interface of religion and science in my book, No Regrets Living.