Can Physics Know What Happened Before the Big Bang?

"What happened BEFORE the Big Bang?" would seem to be an impossible question to answer, but IdeaFestival 2016 speaker Alan Lightman takes a crack at it in a recent essay for Harpers.

Although an expert in quantum theory, [James Hartle, a leading quantum cosmologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara] admits to being baffled by the application of quantum physics to the universe as a whole. 'It is a mystery to me,' he said, 'why we have quantum mechanics when there is only one state of the universe.' In other words, why should there be probabilities that alternative conditions of the universe exist when we inhabit only one? And do those alternative conditions actually exist somewhere?

Click through to give it a read - and don't miss his talk this fall in Louisville! On June 1, the festival will fill you in on the other speakers who will feature in September. Bookmark this page and return to it often to find out who!

Stay curious™