On Mon, 6 Jun 2005, Jesse Mazer wrote:

Norman Samish wrote:

> Norman Samish wrote:
>>     And where did this mysterious Big Bang come from?  A "quantum
>> fluctuation of virtual particles" I'm told.
On Mon, 6 Jun 2005, Jesse Mazer wrote:
> Whoever told you that was passing off speculation as fact--in fact there
> is no agreed-upon answer to the question of what, if anything, came before
> the Big Bang or "caused" it.

Patrick Leahy wrote:
Maybe Norman is confusing the rather more legit idea that the "fluctuations"
in the Big Bang, that explain why the universe is not completely uniform,
come from quantum fluctuations amplified by inflation.  This is currently
the leading theory for the origin of structure, in that it has quite a lot
of successful predictions to its credit.

Norman Samish writes:
Perhaps I didn't express myself well.  What I was referring to is at
http://www.astronomycafe.net/cosm/planck.html, where Sten Odenwald
hypothesizes that random fluctuations in "nothing at all" led to the Big
Bang.  "This process has been described by the physicist Frank Wilczyk at
the University of California, Santa Barbara by saying, 'The reason that
there is something instead of nothing is that nothing is unstable.'  ". . .
"Physicist Edward Tryon expresses this best by saying that 'Our universe is
simply one of those things that happens from time to time.' "

But as I said, this idea is pure speculation, there isn't any evidence for it and we'd probably need a fully worked-out theory of quantum gravity to see if the idea even makes sense.

Even then it would beg the question, why do the rules of quantum gravity apply? I.e. these answers are a bit of a con trick. Back in 1984 when Odenwald composed his text, there were still quite a few physicists who really thought that it would turn out that one and only set of physical laws were logically possible. This is one of those ideas that seems obviously false to any but True Believers, but there you go.

In defense of Odenwald, he does clearly flag his description of events before GUT era as highly speculative. (Actually he is overconfident on the GUT era: you don't hear much about "leptoquark bosons" and "X Higgs" these days.)

Moreover, the idea that "our" big bang within the level-2 multiverse (Tegmark's notation) was produced by a quantum fluctuation is probably a loose but reasonable description if you believe in the level-2 multiverse at all (which is a fairly speculative thing to do).

Paddy Leahy

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