We are moving into a a new and expanded paradigm of science that will be more intuitive and less intellectual. The idea of a universe bound by time is the result of science bound by intellectuality. The more we are able to expand our conception beyond the realm of the intellect, the more we will be able to conceive of phenomena beyond the bounds of time and space, including consciousness. Meanwhile, we must continue questioning existing theories that limit us to the paradigms of the past. I believe the big bang is one of those theories.
Although the big bang singularity arises directly and unavoidably from the mathematics of general relativity, many scientists see it as problematic because the math can explain only what happened immediately after — not at or before — the singularity. “The big bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there,” says researcher Ahmed Farag Ali.
But research now points towards a cyclical (oscillating) universe rather than the so-called big bang — the possibility that our current universe began not with a bang but with a bounce from a previously contracting universe. This fits in with the concept Shrii Shrii Anandamurti often referred to: that the movement of anything is always systaltic, or pulsative. Just as everything within the universe pulsates, it is therefore reasonable to consider that the entire universe itself also pulsates on a much grander scale of time and space.
Paul Steinhardt and his co-researchers first introduced the theory of a big bounce rather than a big bang in 2001. According to this model, the current expanding universe emerges from a bounce that occurred 13.7 billion years ago as a result of the preceding (contracting) universe.
Steinhardt and co-researcher Neil Turok then expanded this into the cyclic theory of the universe, where the bounce represents the end of a cycle of evolution, the transition between a preceding period of contraction and the next period of expansion. This cycle repeats at regular intervals every trillion years or so. (If this is so, we are currently only 13.8 billion years into the 500 billion-year expansion phase.) Dark energy is predicted by the model and plays an essential role in stabilizing the cycles. Steinhardt and Turok proved that the cyclical process can repeat itself not just indefinitely, but also infinitely into the past and the future.
More recently, researchers have developed a theory to show how an oscillating universe could be possible, allowing indefinite alternating expansions and contractions without contracting all the way back into a singularity. Ali and co-researcher Saurya Das have shown that the big bang singularity can be resolved by their new model in which the universe has no beginning and no end. This model predicts how the effect of quantum mechanics would allow the universe to spring from a previous universe that was contracting, rather than from a single point of broken physics. In particular, the researchers suggest that the effects of quantum mechanics could prevent the universe from collapsing and destroying itself at the end of a period of contraction. Instead, the universe would transition from a contracting state to an expanding one without collapsing completely. Researcher Steffen Gielen says, “Quantum mechanics saves us when things break down. It saves electrons from falling in and destroying atoms, so maybe it could also save the early universe from such violent beginnings and endings as the big bang and big crunch.”
So as well as not predicting a big bang singularity, the new model does not predict a big crunch singularity either. In general relativity, one possible fate of the universe is that it shrinks until it collapses in on itself in a big crunch and becomes an infinitely dense point once again. But researchers have introduced quantum corrections which can be thought of as a cosmological constant term (without the need for dark energy) and a radiation term. These terms keep the universe at a finite size and therefore give it an infinite age. The terms also make predictions that agree closely with current observations of the cosmological constant and density of the universe. The model also accounts for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once. “It is satisfying to note that such straightforward corrections can potentially resolve so many issues at once,” says Das.
So according to this new model, where quantum correction terms are applied to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the universe may have existed forever, going through an eternal cosmic cycle of contraction, bounce and expansion until attraction (gravity) propels it into a new contraction. This ties in beautifully with the yogic philosophical concept of an eternal, vast but not infinite, universe.