Why did the Big Bang Happen?

We humans ask big questions such as why are we here or why was the universe created?

A theist might smugly retort that while the Big Bang theory explains how the universe got started it doesn’t explain why it got started. How could something be made out of nothing?

I will argue that, while there might actually be answers to this question, asking what or why often doesn’t make sense. It is more useful to ask how.

Why are there numbers? Why are there circles and rectangles? Why do objects have mass? What is mass? Why is there gravity or what is gravity? Why are there atoms?

We can’t really answer any of these questions. There is no sensible way of explaining what a number inherently is or why they exist. What we can do is say something about how we use numbers. What sort of operations we can perform with them.

Likewise we can’t say what gravity inherently is, but we can explain how gravity works. Gravity is a force which acts between objects which have mass, attracting them. The strength of the gravitational force is proportional to the masses and the inverse of the distance squared. We don’t know what a force is either. Only how it works. A force causes an object to accelerate for the duration of which the force acts.

It is hard to imagine a sensible answer to why there are atoms. Nor can we answer what they are. But atoms are useful models which allows us to say useful things about how different chemicals interact with each other. In that sense numbers and atoms are not as different from each other as one might think. It is easy to think of an atom as a concrete physical representation of something. But since we can’t see or touch an atom directly, they are merely mathematical models of what we think the smallest parts of substance is made of. In that sense they are abstractions like numbers.

My point with giving all these examples, is to try to convey the idea that asking why there was a Big Bang is a futile question. We should not expect it to be answerable any more than the previously listed questions. All we can hope for is more details of how the Big Bang or a big bang works. That doesn’t mean the Big Bang theory is worthless. It answers many scientific question about how our universe turned into what it is today. Likewise we don’t need to know where electrons come from to find them useful in explaining electrical phenomenon, light emission and chemical bonds.

The great physicist Hawkins offered a plausible explanations for how the Big Bang got started for our universe. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics have some bizarre consequences. Since position and speed of particles can’t ever be known with certainty, the energy level at a point in space can’t be known with certainty either. This allows for spontaneous creation of virtual particles in short timespans. The shorter the time, the more probable.

Wikipedia expands on this phenomenon know as quantum fluctuation:

the temporary change in the amount of energy in a point in space, as explained in Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

It is further stated that this is actually verifiable experimentally.

This allows the creation of particle-antiparticle pairs of virtual particles. The effects of these particles are measurable, for example, in the effective charge of the electron, different from its “naked” charge.

Today it is believed that there is mathematical proof of quantum fluctuations’ ability to create a big bang.

In a sense this means that the mere existence of the laws of physics, predicts the creation of a universe. Of course this doesn’t explain where the laws of physics came from or why we have them.

At some point we have to just accept things for what they are. Mathematics is the same. Mathematical proofs are built on top of axioms. Things we can’t prove or derive from anything more fundamental.

Written by

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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