Seeing Signals from Before the Big Bang

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Roger Penrose
Professor Sir Roger Penrose (1931 – )
Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson
Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson (1942 – )
Conway Memorial Lecture
Conway Memorial Lecture
Moncure Conway photo by Edward Steichen, 1907. Courtesy of Dickinson College.
Moncure Conway photo by Edward Steichen, 1907. Courtesy of Dickinson College.
Delivered at Conway Hall 12 November 2012. Chaired by Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson and presented by Professor Sir Roger Penrose.

The orthodox view in current cosmology is that the history of the universe dates from the ‘Big Bang,’ some 13.7 billion years ago. However, while there certainly is evidence that such an event did occur around that time, there is no reason to think that the entire history of the universe dates from it.

An alternative view is that of conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC): whereby cosmic history since the afore-mentioned ‘Big Bang’ is simply one aeon of an infinite series of such aeons. Each aeon begins with an explosion: one which is, in a number of ways, a continuation of the previous aeon, though it does involve an infinite re-scaling of space and time. Also, each new aeon, like the final phase of the previous one, features a low level of entropy—in fact, more or less the same level. Hence, throughout all the aeons, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is maintained.

Further, in each aeon, the universe goes through an initial stage of physical concentration (the explosion) to an ultimate stage of expansion. Finally, to repeat, the series of aeons is endless. The cyclic universe has no beginning and no termination.

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