According to a recent survey, the most popular question about science from the general public was: what came before the Big Bang? We all know on some level what the Big Bang is, but we don't know how it became the accepted theory, or how we might know what came before. In Before the Big Bang, Brian Clegg (the critically acclaimed author of Upgrade Me and The God Effect) explores the history of this remarkable concept. From the earliest creation myths, through Hershel's realization that the Milky Way was one of many galaxies, to on-going debates about Black Holes, this is an incredible look at the origins of the universe and the many theories that led to the acceptance of the Big Bang. But in classic scientist fashion Clegg challenges the notion of the "Big Bang" itself, and raises the deep philosophical question of why we might want to rethink the origin of the universe. This is popular science at its best, exploratory, controversial, and utterly engrossing.
The title of well-known science writer Clegg's newest is a bit of a teaser: as Clegg (A Brief History of Infinity) himself admits: "we may never have a definitive answer to the question, "What came before the Big Bang?" But there are lots of theories running around waving their hands to be noticed and get funding. Clegg devotes the first half of his book to the problems that face big bang theorists (when did the bang happen? How big was it? what caused it?). He then gives equal time to those who are looking to send that theory the way of phlogiston. Many alternative origin-of-the-universe theories postulate either that there have been cyclical universes each ending in a Big Crunch, followed by another Big Bang, or that our universe really exists in a giant black hole,or that universes can bud off one another.Most astronomy and science fiction buffs will bl familiar with this material, but Clegg's relatively jargon-free style makes for a good introduction for general readers, even if it leaves them still wondering what did come before the big bang.