- Carlos Serrano (@carliserrano)
- BBC News World
When someone asks about the beginning of the universe, is the Big Bang the first answer that comes to mind?
So know that some scholars are skeptical that this was the beginning of it all – and that a young researcher is going so far as to claim that there may not even have been the beginning of it all.
This is Bruno Pinto, a Portuguese researcher in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Liverpool, UK. Pinto is co-author of an academic paper, If Time Had No Beginning (“If time had no beginning”, in the free translation), which is still under review by other experts.
His theory differs from our traditional understanding of the passage of time. He suggests the existence of an infinite past and considers the Big Bang just one more event in the history of the universe, which has always existed.
What does Pinto’s proposal consist of and how does it challenge what we know about the evolution of the universe?
Modern physics offers two theories that help us explain the universe.
One-sided quantum mechanics, which describes subatomic particles and their interactions. On the other hand, there is general relativity, which explains very well the gravity that governs everything that happens in the microscopic world.
General relativity takes us 13.8 billion years ago, in the moments immediately after the Big Bang, when everything existed on small scales.
But Einstein’s theory fails when it tries to explain what happened at the exact moment of the Big Bang, or what happened before that moment. This is what specialists call the “singularity,” the point at which the theory of relativity can no longer explain what happened.
In this singularity, matter is so compact that gravity becomes extremely strong on subatomic scales. It would then require a theory unifying quantum mechanics and general relativity to explain what happened during and before this single state occurred.
This theory is already called by scientists the quantum theory of gravity. In it, gravity can be explained at a quantum level, which helps to describe what happens at these scales. This is where Bruno Pinto’s suggestion comes in.
In his article, Bruno Pinto turns to causal group theory, an approach to quantum gravity that argues that spacetime is made up of building blocks, called “spacetime atoms,” that make up the elements.
In this way, causal group theory solves the question of the singularity, because, according to this point of view, there can be nothing smaller than an atom of space-time.
“According to causal set theory, what we consider the passage of time corresponds to the birth of new elements of the causal set,” Pinto told BBC News Mundo (BBC Spanish service).
“What we call ‘now’ is the birth of a new element.”
There is no beginning
Pinto’s work starts from this idea to suggest that causal groups formed infinitely. Therefore, the Big Bang would not be the beginning of the universe.
For him, there was always something before, that is, causal combinations would be infinite in the past and the Big Bang would be just a defining moment in the evolution of the universe.
According to Pinto, “Our work says that if causal groups are the answer, we don’t necessarily have a beginning.”
The challenge proposed by Bruno Pinto is to abandon the idea of ”chaining”, where one element gives way to another.
Instead, he proposes the idea of ”asynchronous transformation”, according to which elements are generated in part rather than completely.
In his article, the researcher recognizes that the idea of ’asynchronous transformation’ appears to be a ‘fantasy puzzle’ and that ‘a new kind of mathematics is needed to understand ‘asynchronous transformation’ and its consequences for the nature of time’.
Astrophysicist Niayesh Afshordi, a researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, who was not involved in it, told BBC News Mundo that Pinto’s work “provides the first steps towards establishing a mathematical understanding of the Big Bang and its possible past history”. the job.
Bruno Pinto hopes that future experiments will demonstrate the consequences of models like the one he proposed.
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