Big Bang Was Actually a Phase Change: New Theory


How did the universe begin? The Big Bang is traditionally envisioned as the moment when an infinitely dense bundle of energy suddenly burst outward, expanding in three spatial directions and gradually cooling down as it did so.

Now, a team of physicists says the Big Bang should be modeled as a phase change: the moment when an amorphous, formless universe analogous to liquid water cooled and suddenly crystallized to form four-dimensional space-time, analogous to ice.

In the new study, lead author James Quach and colleagues at the University of Melbourne in Australia say the hypothesis can be tested by looking for defects that would have formed in the structure of space-time when the universe crystallized. The universe is currently about 13.7 billion years old.

“Think of the early universe as being like a liquid,” Quach said in a statement. “Then as the universe cools, it ‘crystallises’ into the three spatial and one time dimension that we see today. Theorized this way, as the universe cools, we would expect that cracks should form, similar to the way cracks are formed when water freezes into ice.”

If they exist, these cracks should be detectable, the researchers said, because light and other particles would bend or reflect off of them as they trek across the cosmos.

Written By: Natalie Wolchover
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  1. There’s speculation, there’s wild speculation and then there’s cosmology. I just read spacetime is smooth:… . Also how would this account for the expansion of the universe? And why do writers (and people in general) so often adopt the kind of language that suggests a hypothesis such as this has long been proven? “it isn’t known whether they [the cracks] are microscopic, or light-years apart …” or exist.

  2. New?

    Hardly.Lee Smolin is talking about this in a book I am reading from 2000 called ‘ The Life of The Cosmos. ‘

  3. the way i see the ‘big bang’  is just another system coming into being, just like a solar system from a star going supernova, and a galaxy from a black hole, so the next one up from that is a ‘big bang’ its just the next step up to get universes ! …. therefore there are many ‘big bangs’ probably just as many as there are stars in our galaxy, or galaxys in our universe ! i know hard to believe, and to prove, as we cannot see beyond our universe as the speed of light is too slow, and hasn’t reached us yet!, but its no different than imagining the universe when all we knew was our solar system at the time (was it 500years ago or summit) …  its how i have always seen it, and i find it odd that no one else has ever talked about it like this ??? what are other people opinions ??? would LOVE to have this put to some proper theorist !

  4. To be honest, I’m not sure if I understand this properly and the analogy doesn’t particularly help. It’s always interesting to hear about new models of the universe though so hopefully we hear more about this in the future. I wonder, what do other physicists think of it?

  5. “an amorphous, formless universe analogous to liquid water cooled and
    suddenly crystallized to form four-dimensional space-time, analogous to
    ice.” No, not that new. Murray Gell-Mann already spoke (and wrote)  of “frozen accidents” many years ago.

  6. “The universe is currently about 13.7 billion years old.”

    Last year at this time, it was 13.7 billion years old.

  7. It’s not new, and it’s definitely not proven yet. Calling it a theory is indeed very premature. But the nice thing about this is that it has the potential of being confirmed by empirical observations. Many well-established theories are mathematically sound, but lack predictive power and/or observable proof. Finding these cracks, if they exist, would be something exciting.

  8. Hindu mythology posited endless cycles of re-creation.  I think is closest to what warms the cockles of the human heart.  That has nothing to do with what is true, just what people  hope is true.

  9.  “Think of the early universe as being like a liquid”

    This might sound like a stupid question put in what did this universe exist, or better yet in what did the “infinitely dense bundle of energy” exist?

  10. “The universe is currently about 13.7 billion years old.”

    ‘currently’ is good !

    Some visitors to the British Museum of Natural History are marveling at some dinosaur bones. One of them asks the attendant, “Can you tell me how old this dinosaur skeleton is?”

    The attendant replies, “It is sixty five million and twenty four years, seven months and three days old.”

    “That’s amazing.”, says the visitor. “How can you tell its age so precisely?”

    “Well”, said the attendant, “that dinosaur was sixty five million years old when I started working here and I’ve been here for twenty four years, seven months and three days”

    p.s. Intuitional metaphors rule KO (i.e. not sure they are helpful).

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