What was there before the Big Bang and what is there outside of our universe? (Beginner)

We can define the universe as everything there is, so in that case there is nothing outside of it. We also say that space and time both started at the Big Bang and therefore there was nothing before it.

Another definition for the universe is the observable universe - which is the part of it that we can technically see. We cannot know what is outside of that (since we can't observe it), but we think that physics works the same everywhere and so we think that it should be very similar to the observable universe. We actually think that the universe might be infinite in extent, and so goes on forever, even though we can only see a finite part of it.

We can speculate in meta-physics or in religion about what was before the Big Bang, but again, we cannot use science to tell anything about it as physics as we understand it breaks down at that point.

This page was last updated June 27, 2015.

About the Author

Karen Masters

Karen Masters

Karen was a graduate student at Cornell from 2000-2005. She went on to work as a researcher in galaxy redshift surveys at Harvard University, and is now on the Faculty at the University of Portsmouth back in her home country of the UK. Her research lately has focused on using the morphology of galaxies to give clues to their formation and evolution. She is the Project Scientist for the Galaxy Zoo project.

Twitter:  @KarenLMasters
Website:  http://icg.port.ac.uk/~mastersk/

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