You are here: » guest writers » wayne mcdonald - origin of the universe


     Wayne McDonald

Guest Writers


A New Theory Regarding the Origin of the Universe?

by Wayne McDonald

For over 50 years the Big Bang Theory has reigned unchallenged as the most complete theory regarding the origin and subsequent development of the Universe. However, its place in theoretical physics and cosmology is being seriously challenged by a new theory whose thesis is an event referred to as the “Big Bounce.”

In a letter to be published in the August, 2007 issue of Nature Physics 1 Martin Bojowald of the Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at Pennsylvania State University will announce that he has developed a new model of the early Universe that differs from the currently accepted model in one “minor” respect: there is no Big Bang! Instead, he proposes that there was an event which has been dubbed the “Big Bounce” rather than the “Big Bang.”

Simplified diagram of the oscillating universe theory showing the repeating collapse-expansion pattern. CREDIT: University of  Rochester (NY).

Bojowald’s theory is derived from the equations of Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), a mathematical model that attempts to reconcile both gravity and quantum mechanics within a single theory. In this new application of LQG the theory begins by stating that the Universe, over tremendously long periods of time, goes through a repeating cycle of expansion, contraction, and rebirth. In Bojowald’s model the Universe eventually contracts to a point that is both very hot and very dense but does not approach the infinite density and temperature that preceded the Big Bang. Instead, the Universe collapses to a critical point, well short of the singularity of the Big Bang Theory. Once this critical point is reached, the “Big Bounce” occurs and the Universe re-expands.

Although not explicitly stated in Bojowald’s paper, the Big Bounce does away with the need for a particular bit of “fine tuning” regarding the Big Bang Theory, a period of time called the inflationary era.

As the Big Bang theory was being developed it became obvious that a major problem had arisen: the Universe was too big to be explained by the General Theory of Relativity. Rather than scrap the entire theory its advocates hypothesized that, very shortly after instant of the Big Bang, the Universe expanded faster than the speed of light due to some “breakdown” in relativity brought on by the extreme conditions present during that period.

If, however, the Big Bang is replaced by a Big Bounce, the theory’s predictions seem to agree with the observed current dimensions of the Universe.

The loop quantum gravity model also provides that the new universe is not a mere “carbon copy” of its predecessor due to quantum uncertainties that are manifest during the periods immediately prior to and after the Big Crunch. In other words, the previous universe may have developed with an abundance of antimatter over matter but the Big Bounce “reset the stage” and our Universe developed with its familiar dominance of matter over antimatter.

As with practically all scientific theories Bojowald’s Big Bounce is built from, and supported by, the works of other theoretical physicists; most notably the research of Baum and Frampton into cyclic, or repeating, universes. 2 - 4 And, as with any other theory, only time will tell if the Big Bounce will unseat the Big Bang as the correct description of the events that unfolded in the very young Universe.



1. Bojowald, Martin (2007): ‘What happened before the Big Bang? “Nature Physics, Published online: 01 July 2007; | doi: 10.1038/nphys6

2. Baum, Lauris and Frampton, Paul (2006): “Deflation at Turnaround for Oscillatory Cosmology arXiv: astro-ph/0608138v1

3. Frampton, Paul (2007): “Cyclic Universe and Infinite Past” arXiv: 0705.2730

4. ____________ (2006): “On Cyclic Universes” arXiv: astro-ph/0612243

©2007 Wayne McDonald
All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with Permission

Related Books and Links



Copyright 2007 by