Before the Bang

Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 87

 
Photo by Jacob Granneman on UNSPLASH.
 

“No, that’s not it at all. Here, let me try again,” he says.

I’m not trying to be dense, but science has never been my strong suit.

“The universe exists in a space-time continuum. Do you understand?”

That sounded like some Neil deGrasse Tyson stuff. While I don’t understand it, I am interested in it.

“I think I do,” I say.

“Cool. The continuum is the empty space which matter and events exist and happen, respectively.”

I feel my brain start to wobble under the weight of his words. He is more educated than me.

“Right,” I say noncommittally.

“So, if there is no space-time continuum, there is no stuff. There are no bottles, chairs, cars, refrigerators, keys, paintings, or people. There’s no earth, no sun, no solar system, no anything.”

“Got it. If you have matter, it can only exist in the continuum,” I summarize.

“That right. Now the time stuff is trickier, in my opinion. If there is no STC, then there is no time.”

Time is like another dimension, then. I think I remember some erudite individual saying that at some point.

“If there’s no time, then there’s no before or after. In a way, there is only the now.”

“And that sounds like what is inside a black hole, right?” I ask.

“Indeed it is. You know more than you think. A singularity, which is said to be inside a black hole, is where the STC is compressed to infinite smallness. They are thought to be the theoretical idea behind wormholes. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let us stick with the time thing for now,” he says as he lifts his beer and takes a swig.


He sets the bottle down on the table after dragging the coaster closer to him.

“So, if there’s no continuum, you can not ask what caused the big bang. Do you see? If something is the causal outcome of other agents, then they must come before it in time, right?”

I want to say yes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he tells me this is not so.

“Yes,” I say.

Another draw on the bottle, another slighter adjustment to the coaster; he sets the bottle slowly as he centers the bottle precisely on the soggy coaster.

“So if there was no time continuum before the big bang, we can’t ask what caused the singularity to explode into existence. We can’t talk about before and afters until we have a place in which time exists.”  


We continue talking about cosmology for hours. It is heady stuff, and I am always filled with awe when I hear someone smart go on about the wondrous universe in which we find ourselves.


I don’t remember how he and I first met. I want to say it was when we were both in college together, engineering for me, pre-med & microbiology for him. From the very first moment we met, it was like we had always known each other. Like we had known each other in a previous incarnation and then drifted apart, but now we’re reunited. With some people, that feeling is strong.

We finish our beers. Per our arrangement, it’s my turn to treat. I’m happy to plop down the twenty-dollar bill and tell the server to keep the change.

A good night. I learned there was nothing that could have caused the big bang; that it was, in the end, an unaskable, nonsensical question.

Without a continuum for time and space to frolic and play, there can be no causality. It is a place where language and linear, three-dimensional thinking break down.

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