From Big Bang To Black Hole: The Mind Trip

Inspired by the article “Goodbye Big Bang, Hello Black Hole? A New Theory Of The Universe’s Creation” at, by Elizabeth Howell, on September 18, 2013.

I just read an article at Universe Today which, though it was published over a year ago, had so far evaded my attention. It speaks of the possibility that our universe did not come about by way of a Big Bang, but rather that it is something like the inside of a black hole resulting from the collapse of a dying star in a four-dimensional universe (presumably one dimension is lost in the process), and perhaps what we conceive as a Big Bang is the inside-out version that collapse, at least as far as I can understand.

Illustration borrowed from the above mentioned article. With apologies to those involved.

It’s a dashingly interesting and mindboggling concept, but it would seem that it merely pushes the problem of the great coming-into-being of everything (I generally avoid the word “creation” as it implies that someone is doing the creating, which is a whole ‘nother bag of wossname) one more generation backwards. What came before the hypothetical four-dimensional star which hypothetically collapsed into our tree-dimensional universe? Was its universe, too, born out of a collapsing five-dimensional star in a previous universe? And before that?

Illustration borrowed from the above mentioned article. With apologies to those involved.

It smacks slightly of “turtles all the way down”, but I am not one to say that that’d be an incorrect conclusion. Turtles, after all, are known for impressive longevity, if left to to their own devices under favourable circumstances, and as far as turtles go, universes are long-lived indeed.

Lonesome George 1.jpg
Example of particularly long-lived turtle (Wikipedia)

But wait. Aren’t black holes supposed to steadily consume all available matter around them? Would not that cause a steady stream of further matter to be injected into the universe born of that black hole? Our universe? Would that not make the sum total matter in that universe anything but unchanging? Doesn’t that run against the rule that the sum of mass and energy is constant? Or is the content of the resulting universe limited to the matter present at the moment of collapse? If the latter, where does the later consumed matter go? And how the heck do we define matter on that scale anyway? A previous universe with a higher number of dimensions (I’ve barely been able to wrap my mind around four dimensions, I dare not think what five would be like, not to mention six) would be unlike anything we know from our three-dimensional one. And black holes in our universe, do they lead to two-dimensional universes? What happens when you run out of dimensions? Will the next generation be one of Flatlanders, or are the dimensions themselves simply rearranged and redefined so that there is no real beginning or end to a long, continuous line of stars dying and universes being born?

Carl Sagan on Flatland and Flatlanders (Youtube)

I wish that I could say that questions like these do not keep me awake at night, and indeed I can, but during my waking hours they tend to buzz around my cerebrum like infuriatingly annoying house flies, and there tends to be rather a lot of them. Though before you start questioning my personal hygiene, I am quite sure that those aren’t actual house flies, as their buzzing takes place inside my head, and at least so far no-one else has actually reported seeing them.

My point, if there is one, is that every new discovery, every new theory, even if it should happen to provide answers and explanations to existing questions, tends to present anywhere from a single one to a whopping multitude of new ones. But that’s the astonishing beauty of science: We will never run out of things to find out, questions to ask, amazing stuff big and small to drop our jaws at, as well as little things, at a more manageable magnitude, to keep us occupied in our everyday lives. It’s bloody marvellous!

Welcome to the Universe. It’s the biggest thing you will ever know.

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