back to article Loopy quantums reveal successive universes

So it turns out that the universe didn't begin with a big bang, after all. No. It was a big boing, the result of a previous universe contracting before bouncing back out to become ours. This is the latest news from the mutantly clever quantum cosmologists at Penn State university. Credit: Martin Bojawald, Penn State Spreading …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Told you so...

    I've been telling anyone who will listen since I was 7. I just couldn't be bothered to do the sums! I mean, c'mon, it's obvious...

    Oh, and just so you know, that's not the COMPLETE story, but I'll leave the maths to someone else.

  2. Steve Mason

    not a new idea

    The idea of a lower limit to the size of the universe in it's earlier times is not a new one... Superstring theory has already suggested a lower limit where the values of equations for a universe of given size "x" have the same outcome for a universe of size "1/x" - thus making the 2 mathematically equivalent. I believe this theory is at least 5 years old.

    Quantum loop gravity theory seems a regurgitation of the above to my barely educated eyes :)

  3. Greg

    Further proof that we don't know everything

    Still, that's no excuse for scientology. ;-)

  4. amanfromMars Silver badge


    <<<He said: "The eternal recurrence of absolutely identical universes would seem to be prevented by the apparent existence of an intrinsic cosmic forgetfulness".>>>

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  5. Robert Grant

    A lack of skepticism?

    Alright, so you use a physics framework that doesn't involve singularities, and oddly enough using it to model the Big Bang does not reveal a singularity. Wake me up for the next headline. And make it one with this year's news in it :)

  6. Pete

    Those Nice Equations!

    "...some parameters in the equation are complimentary..."

    That's just too kind, really. And I always thought science was black and white, but this equation could become quite colourful, emotional almost...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Douglas Adams

    Where is he when you need him?

  8. Tawakalna

    cyclic universe after all?

    despite the new theory, the concept of a recurring universe expanding then contracting then expanding again isn't a new one, is it? I wryly await the refutation of this by another set of cosmologists/astrophysicists who will claim that it's either the Big Bang or the Steady State, not cyclic!

  9. Tom Hillman

    News? Proof? You mean theory.

    I wish that the Reg wouldn't descend into those depths of popular science excitement mongering that other publications frequent. In this day and age we need more news sources to cut the bullsh*t and stop wagging our tails, and I'm increasingly wondering if the Reg is still capable of the former.

    It's a theory. Its ramifications are very interesting, and it's good that you've reported on the story. But it's a theory. It's not confirmed, it's not proof, the researchers have not actually gone back in time and brought back physical evidence. A model, a theory, no matter how precise is NOT the world it pertains to represent, and any reporter writing an article on a science piece has a duty to remember and represent this. Otherwise you're writing a misleading piece in order to fluff your audience, and to be frank, I can get better oral elsewhere.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Highly speculative!

    ...Unfortunately Loop Quantum Gravity is still highly speculative and experimental evidence for it actually being a valid description of the universe we live in is currently not exactly overwhelming. So the bouncyverse may be valid in the LQG framework, but is it actually _valid_?

    (The same goes for String Theory)

    This is not to demean any mathematical achievements in said matter. On the contrary, I want to see more.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is the theory of the Moebius... A twist in the fabric of space

    ... where time becomes a loop .... time becomes a loop ... time becomes a loop.

    Say, is it just me, or does this story give anyone else deja-vu as well?

  12. Flood

    Theoretical Fizzicks

    The problem I have with theoretical physics and new discoveries of that realm is that, as was the case here, when numbers are revised and when new information is discovered the observation often changes. So much so that you have to wonder why would the latest revision be the last definate one?

    I call it the Fizz factor. Fizz gets you and your story a spot in the media.

    This Fizzle has been true of theories on how the planets form, how black holes form, how our sun and other stars are formed, the list goes on and on.

    It's inevitable that when new information or discoveries come along we will need to ajust our theories and that's fine.

    My point is that we always seem to talk about about a theory as if it were Fizzified, or confirmed. We should instead load articles with anti-Fizz verbatim such as:

    "if my numbers are correct - and they probably are not - then it seems that there might actually be some exotic 'thing' akin to what one might call successive universes after somking a good one."


    "well right now I'm at the Nth revision of my numbers but even if I don't have all the info that we are going to discover in the next 2000 years and I therefore probably am wrong, for the moment it looks like there may perhaps be such ludicrous unproveable things as what can be called successive universes by people who come back from successive commas."

    Theoretical Fizzicks isn't the only field to be plagued by this fizzism, Natural History and Zoology are loaded with it. Ever heard such unverifyable assertions as:

    "Here the Zebra shakes his head from side to side, flapping his ears wildly to attract the female. This is why we know they have grown bigger ears through thousands of years of natural evolution."

    Well it may be that Fizzting one's discoveries might just be that irresistable.

    - Flood

  13. Steffen Schubert

    Bing Bang ... Steady State ... Big Boing ...Where's the News ?

    An alternative theory to the Big Bang was proposed in 1948 by Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold, and Sir Fred Hoyle It was called the steady-state theory.

    They found the idea of a sudden beginning to the universe philosophically unsatisfactory. Bondi and Gold suggested that in order to understand the universe we needed to make observations of its distant parts, which would of necessity be observations from the past. In order to interpret those observations we must use the laws of physics, and those have been formulated at the present time. If the state of the universe was different in the past how could we be sure that the laws of physics were not different in the past as well? If they were different no valid conclusions could be drawn.

    For Bondi and Gold not only would the laws of physics have to be the same in all parts of the universe, but at all times as well.

    The Universe would also be the same, always static, always contracting or always expanding, or ... (own thought) both - contracting, followed by expanding, followed by contracting, etc.

    So where's the big news here?

  14. david

    Not New News

    I was taught this as an established scientific theory before 1981.

    My school teacher even gave us the name of a scientist who had calculated the periodicity of the 'bounce'.

    Not new news.

    I have a theory - scientists rehash old theories for a new generation of public who missed them the first time around. A bit like Disney re-releasing their cartoons every seven years for a new generation of children to go and watch. It is easier than creating something ground breaking - just go search through the old dusty PhD theses and not even botyher to see if it has been reported in the news last time?

  15. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Wish you were here..:-)

    "Where is he when you need him?" ...Douglas Adams

    Probably overseeing the Clinic bar in some Esoteric Environment.

  16. MTT

    To all the armchair geniuses...

    Tom "this day and age" Hillman... grab a dictionary and look up the word pedantic.

    "Not new news" come off as a moron claiming that you were taught "established" facts about the origin of the universe. And in 1981 no less! Last time I checked, there were no such "established" facts, even among the most respected theoretical physicists, and the state of physics in '81 was still trying to wrap it's collective brains around String theory, and not running the kind of computation heavy modeling of the early universe this work requires. Puh-lease.

    Respect yourselves enough to keep your overblown "theories" and "been-there-done-that's" to yourselves, please. I'm sorry, but I don't believe for second that most people who have weighed in thus far have much more physics insight than a 12-year old kid who just read Mom or Dad's science club pick of the month, let alone some intimate knowledge of loop quantum gravity.

    I'll give exception to Steffen Schubert above, who actually bothers to engage his audience with a counter example of demonstrating similar ideas but slightly misses the point of the article IMO (the news, Steffan, is that there is a working model that can be verified by looking for footprints in the cosmological landscape that are not accounted for by GTR but are accounted for by LQG or another, more complete model.)

  17. Andy Bright

    No doubt Creationists would have us believe..

    that God simply used a giant Space Hopper ...

  18. David


    I know your not going to believe me, but I came up with the same theory 1 day before they did.

  19. Ishkandar

    Boing !!

    But where is the turtle that the elephants are supposed to stand on as they support the whole world ??

  20. Andrew B Long

    Idiots shouldn't be let loose to roam

    If you can do the maths, comment. Otherwise, shut up.

  21. Darryl

    MathEmatics ....

    d/dtau |\psi>[/itex]=Tr Sum_i,j [ P_i P_i - [X^i,X^j] - \lambda Gamma [itex\Gamma^i[X^i,\lambda]]|\psi

    ..... but I do find the elephants conceptually more comfortable.

  22. Greg Nelson

    Science Makes Big Bang

    Theoretical science is brought into line with the empirical universe by way of reproducible experiments. From this it seems to follow that science is likely responsible for bringing new universes into being. Physics testing theories on the origin of the universe must necessarily reproduce conditions existing when the universe came into being. A successful experiment should bring a new universe into being.

    Science over the long run is very likely a speciation event. Once scientists evolve into a new species it's likely we'll be much closer to reproducing a Big Bang. It's likely universes that don't permit the evolution of the science species die off. Mature sentient, reproducing universes may well communicate with one another. Of course the idea of sexually reproducing universes is just nonsense.

    i'm just say'n is all

  23. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    The bouncyverse !

    Hey, I like that !

  24. Corin Goodier

    Andrei Linde strikes back!

    Back in the 80's - 90's I read a 6 page spread in scientific american about inflationary theory by Andrei Linde, a much joked about scientist from Russia.

    This was a rival to Big Bang that seemed to explain the universe way better than any theory previously had done and one of the key parts was that the universe would not end but bounce back again and again. He also stated that physical properties would not transfer from one universe to another and that areas within a universe could deflate and force themselves out of our universe and create a daughter universe that would then go off and expand and shrink on its own.

    So yeah, the theory's not new at all, it's just being refined over time.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... P_i P_i - [X^i,X^j] - \lambda Gamma [itex\Gamma^i......

    <<giggle>>... you said peepee

  26. John Angelico

    When you've stopped bouncing your brain...

    Posted By Andy Bright Monday 2nd July 2007 21:52 GMT


    "No doubt Creationists would have us believe..

    that God simply used a giant Space Hopper ..."


    Odd that - I haven't noticed any Creationists jumping onto this bandwagon...

    They still believe that there was an orderly creation by an omnipotent God. None of this bouncy-bouncy stuff.

    It's the silly evolutionists who keep changing the details of their "theory".

    Rock-solid science - yeah, right!!

  27. Tom Hillman

    Pedantry vs Fidelity

    Hi MTT,

    I'm just trying to work out exactly what your objection to my post was, or whether you were just trying to get a reaction.

    If it makes you feel better, I wrote my physics Master's dissertation on general relativity. However, I really don't see what my expertise or lack of it has to do with the point that many people here seem to be making.

    I AM a pedant. But I think that's OK - sometimes it's important to be right. When you're reporting news (or 'news') is one of those times. I don't want to be distracted by Hype. I want to know what the new theory is about.

    I also think that the need for scientists to understand the difference between the models that they create and the universe that they represent is more important than my pedantry.

    I suppose it would also be pedantic to point out that david was talking about established theories, not facts. I happen to believe he's wrong about the theory being a 'rehash;' it's not a regurgitation either. But if popular science reporting insists on treating every small theoretical advance (on many people's many works) as some completely novel revolutionary and complete understanding of how the world works, it's no wonder that people will start to become cynical.

    For instance, you summarize that the model can be 'verified by looking for footprints in the cosmological landscape' - such as? I would hope that you're right; It would be nice even if some possible candidates were mentioned in the article, but they weren't. Let's face it, advertising the fact that a theory (any theory) NEEDS corroborating empirical evidence only serves to undermine the impact of the story.

    Instead of the hype, let's have some independant peer commentary. Let's examine what points are important, and how it could develop our current understanding. Let's have some damn criticism, too. Just be honest and say that you're speculating when that's what you're doing.

  28. Demian Phillips

    Creationism and a bouncy universe

    Well, it appears that this whole of creation is like a paddle ball. And the fundamental thing about paddle ball is you need someone to get it going, otherwise it just sits there and does not do much.

    I don’t know where you can put creationism in. I mean I guess someone has to make the paddle, and the ball, and the stringy bit, but the more important thing is whose hand is on the paddle.

  29. Mike Mongan

    Now and Then

    The Big Bang is a political idea drummed up by scientists who don't want to be in a constant war with the religious power structures. Everybody jumps on the idea because it doesn't completely eradicate Genesis. I have no problem with there being a supreme diety. However, I don't think that job comes with constraints imposed by what passes for human intelligence.

    Since matter and energy are somewhat equivalent in my view of the universe (, it is really just a matter of twistedness showing up in the fabric or going away. Time comes in two flavors, now and then. We can never directly observe now. So it is just as likely that is where stuff comes into being on a constantly streaming, ongoing basis.

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