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Before the big bang

As time and space only came into existence with the big bang, the question of what happened before it makes no sense to cosmologists. But why did time and space suddenly switch on? And where do the laws of physics come from?

By prospect   June 2001

These days most people know that the universe began with a bang-a big bang. But as soon as they try to imagine this event, an awkward question presents itself: what happened before the big bang? Since the idea of something happening without any prior cause is alien to us, the question seems to demand an answer. Yet many cosmologists insist that there is no answer to the question of what happened before the big bang, not because the origin of the universe must forever lie beyond the scope of human inquiry, but because the question itself is meaningless.

It is…

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