"The Big Bang was not the beginning," said Sir Roger Penrose this week, after receiving the Nobel Prize for Physics. "Something happened before the Big Bang."
Speaking to The Telegraph, 89-year-old Penrose, who is based at Oxford University, described the findings of some of his research over the past six decades. Back in 1988, he shared the World Prize in Physics with Professor Stephen Hawking since his death for his work on black holes, and his prize has now been awarded for showing "that the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes."
Penrose first argued that the existence of black holes was the inevitable consequence of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity back in 1964 when he was in his thirties, and nine years after Einstein's death. Einstein himself believed that, although a mathematical possibility, black holes would not be found to exist physically due to limiting factors, Penrose was able to prove that the gravitational collapse of dense objects into a "singularity" of infinite mass would actually produce what had become known as a black hole, where all known laws of nature had ceased to apply.
In fact, Penrose goes further and insists that there is "very good evidence" that black holes do not only exist, but that they also eventually evaporate away, an idea that Hawking first suggested. Since it takes eons for a black hole to "die," the process is not observable, but Penrose says that he has found six "warm" points in the sky that he calls "Hawking Points" that are produced when black holes evaporate.
"We've been seeing them. These points are about eight times the diameter of the moon and are slightly warm-up regions, "he says. "There's pretty good evidence for at least six of these points," Penrose said, citing his assertion that "there was something before the Big Bang, and that something is what we're going to have in our future.
"We have a universe that expands and expands ... and in this insane theory of mine, that the distant future becomes the Big Bang of another eon," he continues. "So our Big Bang began with something that was the distant future of the previous eon."
In fact, this is not a completely novel idea, although the belief in a series of "Big Bangs" alternating with "Big Crunches" is highly controversial in the scientific world. What Penrose probably does not know, however, is that the idea has not been around for decades, but for millennia; the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 3:7) clearly states, "God has built and destroyed worlds," before creating the world in which we live.