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Q&A: How Do You Envision the Big Bang?

From Calvin Staats in British Columbia (submitted via Facebook):

As far as I know the big bang has only been defined or thought of as an expansion or explosion of all matter from a singularity. Do you envision this as all matter compressed into a tiny space with a huge mass? For some reason I’ve been inclined (the thought keeps popping into my mind) to also accept…that all matter started from a singularity as large as all things combined.…I imagine dark matter or dark energy imposing itself into the equilibrium of this huge mass, setting and controlling the rate and order of movement of what we see today throughout the cosmos. I guess this could apply to a tiny space as well. What law would dictate further regression implying matter to compress further to a tiny area?

I wonder if you could put me out of my misery on this issue with a short answer or any comment(s) you may have. Thank you and may God continue to bless you.


Calvin, one of the tenets of the standard inflationary hot big bang model is that at the beginning of the universe all matter, energy, space, and time was compressed into an infinitely, or near infinitely, small volume. However, at this high compression point, matter, energy, space, and time are not separate entities. The basic picture is that the universe begins with nine highly compressed space dimensions that all expand from the cosmic creation event. At 10-43 seconds after the creation event, six of the nine dimensions stop expanding. Shortly thereafter, the continuing release of space curvature, as a result of cosmic expansion, leads to the production of photons (electromagnetic energy). Subsequent to photon production, an ongoing cosmic expansion leads to the production of massive particles. By the time the universe is a billionth of a second old, space, time, matter, and energy become separate entities that continue to influence one another.

For more details on the early history of the universe in the context of the big bang, check out my book Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd ed. (Orlando, FL: Signalman, 2010): 23–48. For more on the role of dark energy and dark matter, see my book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008): 27–41, 209–11.