You Asked: Time Conundrum

radiationI was fascinated by yesterdays announcement that “old light”
 revealed trace evidence in the background radiation of the earliest
  trillionth of a trillionth (and then some) of a second of the “big bang”.
 What I don’t grasp is the measurement of the timescale, if we are talking
 about the creation of the most elemental forces, aren’t we talking about the
 creation of time itself too? If so how do we establish a time-scale to
  measure what involves-among other things- the creation of the time that we
 are measuring by?  A big bang of thanks to who-ever can answer in layman’s
 terms!

All we can really say is that if you run the clock backwards, this event would have happened 10^(-34) or so seconds before all our equations blow up (going backwards from today).  This is a short time, granted, but the equations are still valid for another factor of a billion or so smaller intervals, so this doesn’t cause any existential crises for space and time.

With no relevant data probing earlier times, though, all sorts of things could have happened in those earlier times: the universe could have quite comfortably been going on forever before this event, then suddenly entered this new phase. Or, space and time somehow popped into existence and triggered this evolving universe, but the physics that we have carefully built up over the centuries doesn’t give a lot of guidance for how this would happen or what it would mean. It is possible that there is information from this earlier time encoded in our universe, but that is a pretty fuzzy frontier of current research.

 

Dr. Gil Holden

McGill Physics Professor

One Response to “You Asked: Time Conundrum”

  1. Christopher Wisniewski says:

    Is what I perceive as reality the same as what is perceived by others? If time is not real, does this change the entire concept of our reality? If we are more akin to holograms does then indicate there may be beings of a higher level of existence? Everything that we perceive does not account for much and therefore we now believe that dark matter and dark energy form the majority of the universe and theories are being offered that there may be a multiverse. I find that the more we try to understand what reality is , the less we can be sure of what is real. I am fascinated by this look into the cause of our existence but wonder where we find our place. If DNA is the means of real memory of all living things we are but so much dust and the program is in the genes and their memory. Humanity is very small in the scheme of things.

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