Big Bounce

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The Big Bounce is a hypothetical cosmological model for the origin of the known universe. It was originally suggested as a phase of the cyclic model or oscillatory universe interpretation of the Big Bang, where the first cosmological event was the result of the collapse of a previous universe. It receded from serious consideration in the early 1980s after inflation theory emerged as a solution to the horizon problem, which had arisen from advances in observations revealing the large-scale structure of the universe. In the early 2000s, inflation was found by some theorists to be problematic and unfalsifiable in that its various parameters could be adjusted to fit any observations, so that the properties of the observable universe are a matter of chance. Alternative pictures including a Big Bounce may provide a predictive and falsifiable possible solution to the horizon problem, and are under active investigation as of 2017.[1]

Expansion and contraction[edit]

The concept of the Big Bounce envisions the Big Bang as the beginning of a period of expansion that followed a period of contraction. In this view, one could talk of a Big Crunch followed by a Big Bang, or more simply, a Big Bounce. This suggests that we could be living at any point in an infinite sequence of universes, or conversely the current universe could be the very first iteration. However, if the condition of the interval phase "between bounces", considered the 'hypothesis of the primeval atom', is taken into full contingency such enumeration may be meaningless because that condition could represent a singularity in time at each instance, if such perpetual return was absolute and undifferentiated.

The main idea behind the quantum theory of a Big Bounce is that, as density approaches infinity, the behavior of the quantum foam changes. All the so-called fundamental physical constants, including the speed of light in a vacuum, need not remain constant during a Big Crunch, especially in the time interval smaller than that in which measurement may never be possible (one unit of Planck time, roughly 10−43 seconds) spanning or bracketing the point of inflection.

If the fundamental physical constants were determined in a quantum-mechanical manner during the Big Crunch, then their apparently inexplicable values in this universe would not be so surprising, it being understood here that a universe is that which exists between a Big Bang and its Big Crunch.

The Big Bounce Models, however do not explain much about how the currently expanding universe will manage to contract. This constant and steady expansion is explained by NASA through the expansion of the universe.


Big bounce models have a venerable history[further explanation needed] and were endorsed on largely aesthetic grounds[which?][when?] by cosmologists including Willem de Sitter, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, George McVittie and George Gamow (who stressed that "from the physical point of view we must forget entirely about the precollapse period").[2]

By the early 1980s, the advancing precision and scope of observational cosmology had revealed that the large-scale structure of the universe is flat, homogenous and isotropic, a finding later accepted as the Cosmological Principle to apply at scales beyond roughly 300 million light-years. It was recognized that it was necessary to find an explanation for how distant regions of the universe could have essentially identical properties without ever having been in light-like communication. A solution was proposed to be a period of exponential expansion of space in the early universe, as a basis for what became known as Inflation theory. Following the brief inflationary period, the universe continues to expand, but at a less rapid rate.

Various formulations of inflation theory and their detailed implications became the subject of intense theoretical study. In the absence of a compelling alternative, inflation became the leading solution to the horizon problem. In the early 2000s, inflation was found by some theorists to be problematic and unfalsifiable in that its various parameters could be adjusted to fit any observations, a situation known as a fine-tuning problem. Furthermore, inflation was found to be inevitably eternal, creating an infinity of different universes with typically different properties, so that the properties of the observable universe are a matter of chance.[3] An alternative concept including a Big Bounce was conceived as a predictive and falsifiable possible solution to the horizon problem,[4] and is under active investigation as of 2017.[5][1]

The phrase "Big Bounce" appeared in the scientific literature in 1987, when it was first used in the title of a pair of articles (in German) in Stern und Weltraum by Wolfgang Priester and Hans-Joachim Blome.[6] It reappeared in 1988 in Iosif Rozental's Big Bang, Big Bounce, a revised English-language translation of a Russian-language book (by a different title), and in a 1991 article (in English) by Priester and Blome in Astronomy and Astrophysics. (The phrase apparently originated as the title of a novel by Elmore Leonard in 1969, shortly after increased public awareness of the Big Bang model with of the discovery of the cosmic microwave background by Penzias and Wilson in 1965.)

Martin Bojowald, an assistant professor of physics at Pennsylvania State University, published a study in July 2007 detailing work somewhat related to loop quantum gravity that claimed to mathematically solve the time before the Big Bang, which would give new weight to the oscillatory universe and Big Bounce theories.[7]

One of the main problems with the Big Bang theory is that at the moment of the Big Bang, there is a singularity of zero volume and infinite energy. This is normally interpreted as the end of the physics as we know it; in this case, of the theory of general relativity. This is why one expects quantum effects to become important and avoid the singularity.

However, research in loop quantum cosmology purported to show that a previously existing universe collapsed, not to the point of singularity, but to a point before that where the quantum effects of gravity become so strongly repulsive that the universe rebounds back out, forming a new branch. Throughout this collapse and bounce, the evolution is unitary.

Bojowald also claims that some properties of the universe that collapsed to form ours can also be determined. Some properties of the prior universe are not determinable however due to some kind of uncertainty principle.

This work is still in its early stages and very speculative. Some extensions by further scientists have been published in Physical Review Letters.[8]

In 2003, Peter Lynds has put forward a new cosmology model in which time is cyclic. In his theory our Universe will eventually stop expanding and then contract. Before becoming a singularity, as one would expect from Hawking's black hole theory, the universe would bounce. Lynds claims that a singularity would violate the second law of thermodynamics and this stops the universe from being bounded by singularities. The Big Crunch would be avoided with a new Big Bang. Lynds suggests the exact history of the universe would be repeated in each cycle in an eternal recurrence. Some critics argue that while the universe may be cyclic, the histories would all be variants.[citation needed] Lynds' theory has been dismissed by mainstream physicists for the lack of a mathematical model behind its philosophical considerations.[9]

In 2006, it was proposed that the application of loop quantum gravity techniques to Big Bang cosmology can lead to a bounce that need not be cyclic.[10]

In 2011, Nikodem Popławski showed that a nonsingular Big Bounce appears naturally in the Einstein-Cartan-Sciama-Kibble theory of gravity.[11] This theory extends general relativity by removing a constraint of the symmetry of the affine connection and regarding its antisymmetric part, the torsion tensor, as a dynamical variable. The minimal coupling between torsion and Dirac spinors generates a spin-spin interaction which is significant in fermionic matter at extremely high densities. Such an interaction averts the unphysical Big Bang singularity, replacing it with a cusp-like bounce at a finite minimum scale factor, before which the universe was contracting. This scenario also explains why the present Universe at largest scales appears spatially flat, homogeneous and isotropic, providing a physical alternative to cosmic inflation.

In 2012, a new theory of nonsingular big bounce was successfully constructed within the frame of standard Einstein gravity.[12] This theory combines the benefits of matter bounce and Ekpyrotic cosmology. Particularly, the famous BKL instability, that the homogeneous and isotropic background cosmological solution is unstable to the growth of anisotropic stress, is resolved in this theory. Moreover, curvature perturbations seeded in matter contraction are able to form a nearly scale-invariant primordial power spectrum and thus provides a consistent mechanism to explain the cosmic microwave background (CMB) observations.

A few sources argue that distant supermassive black holes whose large size is hard to explain so soon after the Big Bang, such as ULAS J1342+0928,[13] may be evidence for a Big Bounce, with these supermassive black holes being formed before the Big Bounce.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Brandenberger, Robert; Peter, Patrick (2017). "Bouncing Cosmologies: Progress and Problems". Foundations of Physics. 47 (6): 797–850. arXiv:1603.05834. Bibcode:2017FoPh...47..797B. doi:10.1007/s10701-016-0057-0. ISSN 0015-9018.
  2. ^ Kragh, Helge (1996). Cosmology. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00546-1.
  3. ^ McKee, Maggie (25 September 2014). "Ingenious: Paul J. Steinhardt — The Princeton physicist on what's wrong with inflation theory and his view of the Big Bang". Nautilus (017). NautilusThink Inc. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  4. ^ Steinhardt, Paul J.; Turok, Neil (2005). "The cyclic model simplified". New Astronomy Reviews. 49 (2–6): 43–57. arXiv:astro-ph/0404480. Bibcode:2005NewAR..49...43S. doi:10.1016/j.newar.2005.01.003. ISSN 1387-6473.
  5. ^ Lehners, Jean-Luc; Steinhardt, Paul J. (2013). "Planck 2013 results support the cyclic universe". Physical Review D. 87 (12): 123533. arXiv:1304.3122. Bibcode:2013PhRvD..87l3533L. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.87.123533. ISSN 1550-7998.
  6. ^ Overduin, James; Hans-Joachim Blome; Josef Hoell (June 2007). "Wolfgang Priester: from the big bounce to the Λ-dominated universe". Naturwissenschaften. 94 (6): 417–429. arXiv:astro-ph/0608644. Bibcode:2007NW.....94..417O. doi:10.1007/s00114-006-0187-x. PMID 17146687.
  7. ^ Bojowald, Martin (2007). "What happened before the Big Bang?". Nature Physics. 3 (8): 523–525. Bibcode:2007NatPh...3..523B. doi:10.1038/nphys654.
  8. ^ Ashtekar, Abhay; Corichi, Alejandro; Singh, Parampreet (2008). "Robustness of key features of loop quantum cosmology". Physical Review D. 77 (2): 024046. arXiv:0710.3565. Bibcode:2008PhRvD..77b4046A. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.77.024046.
  9. ^ David Adam (14 August 2003). "The Strange story of Peter Lynds". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Penn State Researchers Look Beyond The Birth Of The Universe". Science Daily. May 17, 2006. Referring to Ashtekar, Abhay; Pawlowski, Tomasz; Singh, Parmpreet (2006). "Quantum Nature of the Big Bang". Physical Review Letters. 96 (14): 141301. arXiv:gr-qc/0602086. Bibcode:2006PhRvL..96n1301A. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.96.141301. PMID 16712061.
  11. ^ Poplawski, N. J. (2012). "Nonsingular, big-bounce cosmology from spinor-torsion coupling". Physical Review D. 85 (10): 107502. arXiv:1111.4595. Bibcode:2012PhRvD..85j7502P. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.85.107502.
  12. ^ Cai, Yi-Fu; Damien Easson; Robert Brandenberger (2012). "Towards a Nonsingular Bouncing Cosmology". Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. 2012 (8): 020. arXiv:1206.2382. Bibcode:2012JCAP...08..020C. doi:10.1088/1475-7516/2012/08/020.
  13. ^ Landau, Elizabeth; Bañados, Eduardo (6 December 2017). "Found: Most Distant Black Hole". NASA. Retrieved 6 December 2017. "This black hole grew far larger than we expected in only 690 million years after the Big Bang, which challenges our theories about how black holes form," said study co-author Daniel Stern of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
  14. ^ Jamie Seidel (7 December 2017). "Black hole at the dawn of time challenges our understanding of how the universe was formed". News Corp Australia. Retrieved 9 December 2017. It had reached its size just 690 million years after the point beyond which there is nothing. The most dominant scientific theory of recent years describes that point as the Big Bang — a spontaneous eruption of reality as we know it out of a quantum singularity. But another idea has recently been gaining weight: that the universe goes through periodic expansions and contractions — resulting in a “Big Bounce”. And the existence of early black holes has been predicted to be a key telltale as to whether or not the idea may be valid. This one is very big. To get to its size — 800 million times more mass than our Sun — it must have swallowed a lot of stuff. ... As far as we understand it, the universe simply wasn’t old enough at that time to generate such a monster.
  15. ^ Youmagazine staff (8 December 2017). "A Black Hole that is more ancient than the Universe" (in Greek). You Magazine (Greece). Retrieved 9 December 2017. This new theory that accepts that the Universe is going through periodic expansions and contractions is called "Big Bounce"

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