December 12th, 2015


I don't know that Lawrence Krauss made this up, . . .

. . . but I heard it from him:  "Asking what was before the Big Bang is like asking what's north of the North Pole."

The North Pole is the very definition and embodiment of "Northiness;" there is no North after that.  When you're standing at the North Pole there is no East or West, and you've just used up all the North there will ever be.  At the North Pole, at the very pinnacle of North, at the be-all and end-all of North---there is nothing but South.  No matter where you turn, no matter which way you step, it's South.

So, if you replace North with Before and South with After and North Pole with Big Bang, how does any of this apply to the temporal Universe?  The Big bang is as Before as you get?  There is, by definition, no more Before than that?  Looking down on the earth at the North Pole, once you step off of the pole itself, to go East is to go counterclockwise around the pole and to go West is to go clockwise.  Is there anything in the temporal Universe that is analogous to East and West?

Another feature, at least of the Earth, is that, the way we have labeled things, you can go all the way North and you can go all the way South.  You cannot, however, go all the way East or all the way West.  If you go all the way North and keep going, you start going South after you pass the North Pole and then you can go all the way South, at which point you start going North again.  Plotted over time your position describes a sine wave.  You can never get all the way West, however---or all the way East.  You could drive a stake in the sand somewhere along the equator and call that the West Pole, and the point on the globe directly opposite it, the East Pole.  Then you could arbitrarily go "all the way East" or "all the way West."

Does any of this have any analogue in the construction of the Universe?  Does anybody really know what time it is?

Film at 11:00 . . . or not . . .