According to the Big Bang theory, the universe was born around 13.8 billion years ago. All the material that exists today was once squished into a dense, infinitely tiny, point called a singularity.
While most people accept this model, scientists still can’t explain what happened inside this tiny point or what came before it.
If a new theory turns out to be true, the universe may not have started with a bang.
In the new formulation, the universe has never been a singularity, nor an infinitely small and infinitely dense point of matter. In fact, the universe may not have a beginning at all. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.
“The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there,” Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and the Zewail City of Science and Technology, both in Egypt, told Phys.org.
“Our theory suggests that the age of the universe could be infinite,” said study co-author Saurya Das, a theoretical physicist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.
‘The math and the Big Bang theory itself break down because of the infinities,’ Professor Saurya Das told.
‘In other words, the theory predicts its own demise. It also does not explain where that initial state, came from.’
The physicists highlight that their quantum correction terms are not applied in an attempt to specifically eliminate the Big Bang singularity.
Das and his colleagues wanted a way to solve at least some of these problems. To do this, they examined an older way of visualizing quantum mechanics, called Bohmian mechanics. In it, a hidden variable governs the bizarre behavior of subatomic particles. Unlike other formulations of quantum mechanics, it provides a way to calculate the trajectory of a particle.
Using this old-fashioned form of quantum theory, the researchers calculated a small correction term that could be included in Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
In the new formulation, there is no singularity, and the universe is infinitely old.
‘As far as we can see, since different points in the universe never actually converged in the past, it did not have a beginning,’ said Professor Das. ‘It lasted forever. It will also not have an end…In other words, there is no singularity.’
But if there was no Big Bang, what is the history of our universe?
‘The universe could have lasted forever,’ speculates Professor Das.
‘It could have gone through cycles of being small and big or it could have been created much earlier.’
One way of interpreting the quantum correction term in their equation is that it is related to the density of dark matter, Das said.
In the late 1990s, astronomers found that the expansion of the universe is accelerating due the presence of a dark energy.
‘We showed that a giant Bose-Einstein condensate of gravitons may have formed very early on, have lasted forever, and which accounts for both dark matter and dark energy,’ said Professor Das.
Their model has the potential to explain it since the fluid creates constant outward force that expands space.
And when the team set the mass of the graviton, they could make the density of their fluid the same as the universe’s observed density of dark matter.
“It is satisfying to note that such straightforward corrections can potentially resolve so many issues at once,” Das said.