Cosmologists sifting data from a landmark gravitational wave study have reconstructed a snapshot of our universe in the moments preceding the big bang. The controversial view has posed a fresh enigma—and ignited a firestorm of controversy.
“It’s not every day that you wake up and find out what happened before the big bang,” says John Blutarsky, a cosmologist at Jersey University in Hoboken. Yet some physicists are skeptical. "It’s one thing to talk about concrete concepts, such as dimensions too small to be detected and atomic-scale black holes," says Barbara Jansen, a string theorist at Idaho State University in Pocatello. "But to speculate about a time before time? Get real."