According to science, the universe began with an event called the Big Bang around 13.7 billion years ago.

Since then, it has expanded and cooled and turned into the planets, stars, and galaxies that we can see in the night sky today.

But this scientific theory has left Phoebe feeling very puzzled.

‘So, what was there before the Big Bang happened?’ she asks no one in particular. Was there nothing at all, or was there something different from which the Big Bang developed? I don’t see there can have been nothing at all. The universe can’t just have popped into existence on its own out of nowhere!’

Oh, that’s simple,’ says her brother Philip in an annoyingly superior tone. ‘Time was also created at the time of the Big Bang, along with space. So, there was no “before” the Big Bang. Because you can only have a “before” when there is time to have it in.’

‘But, but that’s just silly!’ protests Phoebe. ‘I don’t see how time can have just popped into existence for no reason any more than the universe. And in any case, if the universe began 13.7 million years ago, we must be able to ask what was there before the beginning.’

***

Who is right? Philip or Phoebe? Was there a time before the Big Bang? And, if so, what was there at that time?

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