Conformal Cyclic Cosmology

Truth in fiction. BBC Horizon on 11 October 2010 was “What Happened Before the Big Bang,” and Roger Penrose briefly described conformal cyclic cosmology. I’d never encountered it before, so I looked it up.

When writing Enjoy Such Liberty, I required a cyclic universe in which the Big Bang happens again in the deep future, even though the Universe is open and the expansion is accelerating. In time honored tradition, I made it up. The Lucasta takes longer jumps through time as the Ricci curvature goes to zero. Like a massless particle, a ship does not experience time during jump. Eventually the Lucasta is alone in an empty universe where time has lost all meaning. The characters find themselves in the same perfectly symmetrical void described earlier in the story, and at last the nothingness at the end of time gives rise to a Big Bang.

I made that up for purely thematic reasons, but, bizarrely, Roger Penrose’s model describes almost exactly the same process.

“Physically, we may think that again in the very remote future, the universe “forgets” time in the sense that there is no way to build a clock with just conformally invariant material. This is related to the fact that massless particles, in relativity theory, do not experience any passage of time. We might even say that to a massless particle, “eternity is no big deal.” So the future boundary, to such an entity, is just like anywhere else. With conformal invariance both in the remote future and at the Big Bang origin, we can try to argue that the two situations are physically identical, so the remote future of one phase of the universe becomes the Big Bang of the next. This suggestion is my “outrageous” conformal cyclic cosmology.”

The full paper is here.

Thanks to Professor Sir Roger Penrose, for making the science in the fiction slightly harder.

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