The Caltech team, which hopes to publish their study in Physical Review Letters, has hypothesized that the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, a trace of radiation hitting earth from all directions and thought by some to date to some 12.5 billion years ago, may contain the signature of time before the big bang.
Although the CMB is mostly uniform, big bang theorists have speculated that the slight variations may represent the “seeds from which the galaxy clusters we see in today’s [u]niverse grew.” But the Caltech team, headed by Adrienne Erickcek, believes the CMB fluctuations show that our universe may have “bubbled” out of another one—in other words, supporting the idea of multiple universes.
Every time you break an egg or spill a glass of water you’re learning about the [b]ig [b]ang.
To get an idea of where this idea falls on the practical physics–wild ideas spectrum, hear what study coauthor Sean Carroll said of the hypothesis at the American Astronomical Society meeting: “A universe could form inside this room and we’d never know.”
Interestingly, the scientists claim their idea is an attempt to explain why time flows in one direction only. BBC News explains:
Physicists have long blamed this one-way movement, known as the “arrow of time[,]” on a physical rule known as the second law of thermodynamics, which insists that systems move over time from order to disorder. . . . The second law cannot be escaped, but Professor Carroll pointed out that it depends on a major assumption—that the [u]niverse began its life in an ordered state. This makes understanding the roots of this most fundamental of laws a job for cosmologists.
Carroll contributed a few other quotations that again fall on the “wild ideas” end of the physics spectrum:
“Every time you break an egg or spill a glass of water you’re learning about the [b]ig [b]ang.”
Detailed measurements . . . have shown that the fluctuations in the [CMB] are about 10% stronger on one side of the sky than those on the other. Carroll conceded that this might just be a coincidence, but pointed out that a natural explanation for this discrepancy would be if it represented a structure inherited from our universe’s parent.
We’re trained to say there was no time before the Big Bang, when we should say that we don’t know whether there was anything—or if there was, what it was.
So why all these wild ideas?
There are numerous lessons creationists can take away from this research. First, and perhaps most obvious, is the blatant speculative nature of modern, big-bang-based astrophysical science. The data (in this case, the raw microwave radiation that we observe) is buried under layer after layer of unsupported (and often unsupportable) interpretive hypotheses (such as the idea that another universe spawned our own, which begs the question of where that universe came from).
Second, it is not surprising that astrophysicists are attempting to justify the existence of other universes; the idea of multiple universes, in fact, is a key counter argument to the Anthropic Principle, which points out the numerous “just-right” factors that allow life on earth. The “coincidence” of these factors goes away if one believes there could be an infinite number of universes out there, with every possible variation.
So why all these wild ideas? As astrophysicists try to look “beyond” time and ask questions beyond human understanding, we shouldn’t be surprised their ideas sound so wild!
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