The Scientific Indian

Big Bang, a variation

Folks, this an experimental post (for me, that is). It is slightly incoherent. Written in five minutes. No corrections made. My typing hands decide not to pause. Enjoy if you can get through the muddle.

Big Bang, a variation

I watched Brian Cox present an excellent BBC TV programme on the LHC (on iPlayer, UK only). He covered a great deal and did it engagingly. As I watched the Big Bang being presented as garguntum explosion, I wondered if this is a true picture of the beginning of the Universe. The explosions seemed to pander to the shockjocks in us. Explosions: good. Explanations, equations: bad, bad. And that is a problem. You see, the term Big Bang was a term of disparagement used by Fred Hoyle (he didn’t like expletive explosions ascribed to the universe, his theory was called the steady state theory, heh) to mock the theory. History is a cynic and let ‘big bang’ be hijacked to mean something grand. Well, not just something, the beginning of the Universe is hardly something. It is The Thing, the greatest event in the history of the universe.

So, a big explosive bang, that’s how it began, eh? Alright. Let’s parse this a bit. What banged into what? That’s tricky. See, we have a semantic problem to begin with and that’s just scratching the surface of this Pandora’s box. That’s what the Universe is: Pandora’s box. The biggest, the baddest, the best. It’s wide open and we are in it.

We are talking about the beginning of the Universe here. If at all we have an opportunity to discover that fatally attractive thing called Truth, we must leave no stone unturned, no lid unopened. March on then.

Explosions happen in Space and Time. They begin at 3 PM and end at 3:00:01 PM. They happen in your basement when you drop Mentos into a Soda bottle and shake it like a maniac. Right. Now, if the basement doesn’t exist and the clock has not started running, can an explosion happen? That’s too peaceful a scenario. Let’s have the basement inside the Soda bottle along with you and the clock. The clock; the clock has not begun recording the passage of time –
not because it has a broken cog, but because there is no passage of Time.

Alright. Now. Now, the bottle explodes. No, you didn’t shake it, you can’t, you don’t even exist (although what you will be, does). But someone, something messed about, yes, quite like a maniac. And the bottle…well, it didn’t explode but the stuff in the bottle – the
soda, the clock, you-ness, Space and Time – began to take shape. The fizz was pushing the boundaries. It’s like a moth that eats itself and becomes a sack of biochemicals, which then reorganizes itself into a butterfly. A butterfly that never emerges. Never emerges? No. It can’t emerge anywhere. There is no where. The butterfly is all there is. No cocoon. No tree. No world. No Outside. It was a moth and now it’s a butterfly. That’s all we know. On second thoughts, we don’t even know if it is a butterfly. We – me and you-, our human and other ancestors, are all trapped inside this ..this butterfly, this not-a-butterfly. We are trying to probe the walls, grab stuff from around us, smash them together to figure out what’s inside. We do it because, when we sleep, the butterfly visits our dreams. Asks us to fly. Asks us to make it fly. We are the wings. LHC is the wind beneath those wings.


  1. #1 intransigentia
    September 17, 2008

    This, I think, is what most people just don’t get about science. That rational understanding and cold hard numbers aren’t an end, they’re a gateway that can allow us to glimpse the magnificence of all-that-is. Thank you for writing a beautiful piece.

  2. #2 Dave
    September 17, 2008

    Umm, caterpillars become butterflies, moths become dead moths.

    I agree with the rest though.

  3. #3 Joe
    September 17, 2008

    Poetic post about one of the fundamental concepts of science: The beginning of our Universe. With good emphasis on the fact that the initial explosion, the Big Bang, is unlike any explosion we may have witnessed in chemistry class. I personally avoid the term �Explosion� when talking about the Big Bang because it is so highly misleading�Expansion of Space-Time from a Singularity would be a more correct term to use, I guess.
    Whatever the name one uses, no one has figured out why the Universe came into being this way about 14 Billion Years ago, even though the Steady-State theory is somewhat more appealing philosophically: no singularity, no infinite expansion, etc. But that�s not the way things are. Any idea why?

  4. #4 selva
    September 17, 2008

    Joe, intransigentia, thank you. It is encouraging and you are kind. On Joe’s question, I think it is safe to say (probably safe for another few thousand years, or for ever) that no one knows.

    Dave, indeed. What was I thinking…

  5. #5 Mike Haubrich
    September 17, 2008

    You know, I was really with you on this stream-of-consciousness until you ended it with “wind beneath those wings.”

  6. #6 selva
    September 18, 2008

    I understand what you say, Mike. Even as I posted I felt the last line was a bit trite, prosaic. thank you for the note.

  7. #7 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 18, 2008

    Oh, it was a lot of fun to read. My favorite exercise in composition classes was to write without stopping and you did a good job of it, Selva.

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