The universe, at the instant of the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, was an 'infinitely small dot' containing its total (and constant) energy. At that point — just before space-time came into existence — some of the energy within our energy-only 'dot universe', for some unknown reason, began to convert into matter, creating at the same time the energy-matter-space-time framework we perceive as our universe...

The Magnificent Dot.

After a lot of conjecture and speculation and theorizing, pretty much all working astronomers believe in this so-called Big Bang picture, in which the universe started out really small at some time roughly 15 billion years ago. It exploded. All of this stuff came out of it. But the thing that's so hard for us to picture is, the explosion of something that started the size of a dot, all the matter and all the energy, but in addition, all the space was in there. And when the thing exploded, not only did all this matter and energy come out of this explosion, but all the space came out of it too. So we were in there. And the concept of what was outside the dot before the dot exploded, it turns out is a non-concept because all the space was inside there too. Imponderable stuff. And so the subject of cosmology, the origin of the universe, and all that kind of stuff is a kind of mixture of science and philosphy, a very interesting subject and very hard to come to grips with.

-- Frank Bash - Director, McDonald Observatory

The Singularity That Started It All

The universe began 15 billion years ago with an explosion from an infinitely small mathematical singularity. The singularity was not "somewhere." The fabric of space-time came into existence with explosion. There was no "before," at least none that we can presently know. Space swelled from the singularity like a balloon inflating from nothing.

During the first trillion-trillion-trillionth of a second, matter and antimatter flickered in and out of existence. The fate of the universe hung precariously in the balance, it might grow, or it might collapse back into nothingness. Suddenly it ballooned to enormous size (after all, we are here), in what cosmologists call the inflationary epoch, bringing the first true particles of matter — the quarks — into existence. Within a millionth of a second the rapid swelling ceased, and the quarks began to be confined to protons, neutrons and electrons. The universe continued to expand and cool, but now at a more stately pace. Already the universe was vastly larger than what we are able to observe today. Within a few more minutes, protons and neutrons combined into the first atomic nuclei — hydrogen and helium — but still the universe was too hot for the nuclei to shag electrons and make atoms. Not until 300,000 years after the beginning did the first atoms appear.

Irregularities in the gassy universe of hydrogen and helium were accentuated by gravity. Within a billion years after the beginning, the first stars and galaxies were born. There were not yet any Earthlike planets orbiting the stars of the earliest galaxies, because there were not yet significant quantities of the heavy elements (these would be cooked up later in stars). Nor had the Sun yet been born. But within a few billion years, the universe had begun to look familiar on the largest scale.

--An Intimate Look at the Night Sky, Boston Globe Science Columnist Chet Raymo


  1. Anonymous16/1/11

    okay lets say that big bang was a little dot that was swirling around and exploded. You all have heard of conservation of angular momentum.
    So if the universe started with a spinning little dot that spun clockwise and then exploded. Shouldnt evrything spin the same way? so why is Uranus,Venus and possibly pluto rotating backwards?Plus 8 of 91 moons spinning backwards?

  2. Where does it say that the dot was swirling or spinning? Also, it may be very difficult to understand for you but the fact is that the universe is not the same as our solar system! The planets of our solar system did not form in the big bang. They formed about 5 billion years ago from the accretion of swirling dust and debris after the formation of the central sun. This has nothing to do with the big bang.

  3. The way the planets move have nothing to do with the Big Bang. But the fact that they exist certainly does have everything to do with it.

  4. I don't understand how all matter including galaxies which take up large amounts of space came from an infinitely small dot which took up no space without the creation of new matter being included from an outside source