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The biggest question that science can possibly ask:
For nearly a hundred years, we thought we had the answer: a big bang some 14 billion years ago.
But now some scientists believe
that was not really the beginning.
Our universe may have had a life before this violent moment of
Professor Richard Easther of Yale University and collaborators submitted the theory (A New Mechanism for Bubble Nucleation: Classical Transitions) to arXiv (an open e-print archive for mathematics and physical sciences) on July 19, 2009.
Therefore, each universe behaves like a soap bubble or a pocket of air in boiling water. It is formed within a potential well, a region of low potential energy surrounded by walls of high energy.
A stable bubble stays where it is and has a long life time, whereas unstable bubbles either fall to another well with lower energy, or evaporate away. Quantum mechanically, the bubbles can tunnel, or go through the wall, from one potential well (A) to another well (B), given that B has lower energy than A.
As the bubble tunnels, it expands and the energy difference between A and B is stored in the bubble wall. Until yesterday, this quantum tunneling process was the best theory to produce a stable, expanding universe.
Such a collision is classical, and can release the energy stored in the original bubbles' walls. Loosely speaking, it is similar to a collision between two cars, which releases enough energy to heat up the gas tank and give an explosion.
The energy dissipation from bubbles' collision can be big enough for the daughter bubble to roll over a potential barrier and into yet another potential well (C), whose energy is lower than that of both A and B. Therefore, the daughter bubble is stable.
This classical collision process now adds a number of universes into the already populated landscape of string theory (which contains roughly 10500 possible universes!).
Easther and his group promise more experimental prediction to come.