What Happened Before the Big Bang?
As we go back in time, we find that heat intensifies to such a level that all bonds that keep matter together break: no more molecules, atoms, atomic nuclei; even protons and neutrons get broken down to their constituent quarks. If we keep going back, we quickly reach a time when energies were beyond what we have tested. So, whatever happened between the “beginning” and about a trillionth of a second after the bang relies on theoretical speculation.
Here, there are two schools: one says that the beginning happened when the universe transitioned from a timeless quantum fluctuation into the expanding blob we live in. History starts at the bang, so to speak. Another says that we live in a multiverse, a possibly infinite assembly of all kinds of disconnected universes, with different properties. Ours would be but one of these. In this case, the universe, big bang and all, would be a tiny piece of a timeless cosmic entity. This is where science meets the poetic imagination. And the best part is that it may be true. If only we could test it one day.