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When I read about the universe having always expanded from a 'singularity', I can't help but wonder if that is perhaps not the case. If a singularity is a point at which everything is infinite and is, theoretically, impossible, why are we quite so convinced it existed? What evidence is there that the universe didn't start out as a single square centimetre or even perhaps half the size it is now, because weve only known it's been expanding for the last century or so because of technological advances? Perhaps it was sizeable to begin with but the pressure of more atoms forming has pushed it outwards? Probably a ridiculous theory but Im intrigued to hear what others think about the whole subject because I just don't think the current presumption is based on any real evidence and is likely to be totally wrong.

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    $\begingroup$ How do we know the universe wasn't created a few seconds ago and the creation includes our memories of the past? $\endgroup$ – zeta-band Jul 30 '18 at 16:08
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We can, after making some approximations, trace the movements and locations of the matter in the universe back in time, using the laws of physics (mainly general relativity).

At the moment we see a certain density of matter which is, on a large enough scale, expanding uniformly -- as if space were being blown up so that every bit of it doubles in size every seven billion or so years.

When we extrapolate that back we find that long ago the matter density was much higher, but it was still expanding in a similar kind of way, and this would seem to hold true back to a state of very high density indeed, at which point our existing understanding of the physical laws stops giving us an extrapolation that makes any kind of sense and we have to stop. Up to that point though, the extrapolation gives us a picture which is pretty consistent with all the various ways we have of observing it.

So, as someone has said, the universe might have been created moments ago with everything, including our memories set up just so, but this doesn't seem a very useful line of speculation. Instead we say that, based on the physics we understand, and everything we can see and measure in the universe, it looks like its been expanding ever since it was incredibly hot and dense about 13.8 billion years ago.

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  • $\begingroup$ Right. You can ASSUME based on the evidence you see. By all accounts it appears as you suggest...but you really don't know. $\endgroup$ – Keith May 14 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Keith Yes. But if take that view we really don't know anything at ll. $\endgroup$ – Steve Linton May 14 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ Yes--you're right. We really DON'T know. $\endgroup$ – Keith May 14 at 12:03
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The problem with a singularity Big Bang theory is that both relativity and quantum mechanics break down as you extrapolate back to the singularity event.

Other theoretical models propose that the universe goes through stages of expansion and contraction, that is no Big Bang nor singularity.

The main issue that cyclical theories must address is that the universe tends toward high entropy as per the second law of thermodynamics. This means that the rate of expansion progressively slows down as energy is depleted resulting in the Heat Death, Big Rip, Big Crunch etc depending on your leaning.

Two models of cyclical theories are the Steinhardt–Turok model and the Baum-Frampton Cyclic model. Both models address the issue of entropy in different ways.

Steinhardt–Turok model https://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0111030

Baum-Frampton model https://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0703162

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