This is What Stephen Hawking Thinks Happened Before the Big Bang

New research published January 17, 2017 by a global team of researchers focused on 11,000 relatively nearby galaxies and asked why their gas — their lifeblood for the formation of new stars — is being violently stripped away on a widespread scale. The answer, according to these scientists, relates to the great halos of dark matter thought to surround galaxies and paints a picture of these galaxies falling through these larger halos, having their star-forming gas removed in a fast-acting process called ram-pressure stripping.

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The universe we know today is unexplainable, something that started off as a small, single-atom sized singularity13.8 billion years ago and has been expanding ever since. Scientists call the birth event as the 'big bang', but if this is how our universe, including our tiny little Earth, came to be, what existed before it?

As current instruments cannot look that far back, only mathematical models can be used to understand the big bang including what happened before it. The explanations vary from scientist to scientist, but Stephen Hawking has a definite answer – 'nothing'. 'Nothing was around before the big, big bang," the famed British physicist told astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the "StarTalk" TV show.

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In a video clip, published by Popular Science, Hawking referred to a theory called 'no boundary proposal' and explained:
“The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary”.

He said at the beginning of the universe, time, as we know it, is replaced by imaginary time which behaves like a fourth direction of space.

Put simply, space-time is similar to any curved surface without an end, just like Earth. It shrinks as we go back but never narrows down to one single point. If we see the South Pole as the beginning of the universe with real and imaginary time. "There is nothing south of the South Pole, there was nothing around before the Big Bang," Hawking added.

Watch Stephen Hawking's complete explanation: