Hawking explains nothing existed at singularity

Physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, on his "Star Talk" show, engaged his fellow physicist Stephen Hawking down in a conversation to ask his view about The Big Bang and what came before it.

The Big Bang is posited as the moment when something impossibly tiny began to grow over the next billions of years to become our universe.

Hawking had a simple and direct answer to the question.

"Nothing was around before the Big, Big Bang," Hawking said.

He went on to explain that according to Einstein's Theory of Relativity space and time form a continuum curved by the matter and energy in it.

Hawking described the beginning of the universe taking a Euclidean approach.

"Ordinary real time is replaced by imaginary time," he said. "Honestly, that happens to me all the time. I imagine time has gone by at a certain pace, only to discover I've been imagining things."

For Hawking, however, imaginary time "behaves like a fourth direction of space." Like Euclid, Hawking believes imaginary time is a "four-dimensional curved surface like the surface of the Earth, but with two more dimensions."

According to Hawking, the universe has no boundaries.

In essence, the curved surface that is space-time can be compared with the earth.

"One can regard imaginary and real time as beginning at the South Pole, which is a smooth point of space-time where the normal laws of physics hold. There is nothing south of the South Pole, so there was nothing around before the Big Bang," Hawking said.

In Hawking's view, before the Big Bang, there existed simply nothing, but not in the conventional sense. He does not mean that there was no matter or antimatter or dark matter before Big Bang. Rather, he says anything that existed before the beginning of the universe as we know it has no role at all to play in everything that came after, and can therefore be completely left out of any theories we formulate to explain our observations.

He believes that at the universe at the moment of Big Bang was a singularity, a time when ''all the laws of physics would have broken down.

This means that the state of the universe, after the Big Bang, will not depend on anything that may have happened before, because the deterministic laws that govern the universe will break down in the Big Bang.

The universe will evolve from the Big Bang, completely independently of what it was like before. Even the amount of matter in the universe, can be different to what it was before the Big Bang, as the Law of Conservation of Matter, will break down at the Big Bang.''