What happened before the Big Bang?

Professor Brian Keating
3 min readMay 14, 2023
What Happened at the Edge of Time?
What happened before the Big Bang?

In his book AT THE EDGE OF TIME, theoretical astrophysicist Dan Hooper looks at the first few seconds after the Big Bang―and how research into these moments continues to revolutionize our understanding of our universe where there remains a critical gap in our knowledge.

As the new field of astro-particle physics rapidly develops, we are witnessing an amazing time in the history of science. In addition to the progress being made in the traditional areas of experimental particle physics (accelerator experiments), exciting developments are also taking place in the use of astrophysical experiments to study elementary particles.

The most striking example of this success is the measurement of the neutrino masses and mixing angles that have been made over the last decade. Many of the questions asked by particle physicists are difficult to address with collider experiments and are being explored ever increasingly by astrophysicists. These efforts include the development of particle dark matter searches, ultra-high energy cosmic rays detectors, gamma-ray telescopes and high-energy neutrino telescopes. Professor Hooper’s research is focused primarily, although not entirely, on studying and exploring particle physics beyond the Standard Model using astrophysics.

At the Edge of Time focuses on what we have recently learned and are still striving to understand about this most essential and mysterious period of time at the beginning of cosmic history.

Dan Hooper describes many of the extraordinary and perplexing questions that scientists are asking about the origin and nature of our world and how we are using the Large Hadron Collider and other experiments to re-create the conditions of the Big Bang and test promising theories for how and why our universe came to contain so much matter and so little antimatter.

Here are three main topics from the video with Dan Hooper:

  1. Might we discover how dark matter was formed?
  2. Will new telescopes lift the veil on the era of cosmic inflation? He acknowledges that we can never be certain about what happened, and that we should always be open to new, alternative ideas.
  3. Can we ever know what happened before the Big Bang?

Dan Hooper is a senior scientist and the head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). He is also Associate Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Hooper received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Dr. Hooper’s research focuses on the interface between particle physics and cosmology, covering topics such as dark matter, dark energy, supersymmetry, neutrinos, extra dimensions, and ultra-high-energy cosmic rays. He has authored more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and he has given an even larger number of technical talks at scientific conferences and university seminars and colloquia.

Dr. Hooper is the author of three books written for nonscientists: Dark Cosmos: In Search of Our Universe’s Missing Mass and Energy, Nature’s Blueprint: Supersymmetry and the Search for a Unified Theory of Matter and Force, and At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds.

He has also written for popular magazines such as Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. He gives many public lectures and is frequently called on by the media to comment on science news. Dr. Hooper’s television appearances include Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman and Space’s Deepest Secrets, and he has been interviewed on NPR’s Science Friday.

Professor Hooper also teaches through The Great Courses. You can find him on Twitter https://twitter.com/DanHooperAstro

Other books mentioned in this program: Losing The Nobel Prize by Brian KeatingSomething Deeply Hidden by Sean Carol, Black Hole Blues by Janna Levin, The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg.

(1) Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils …. https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Nobel-Prize-Cosmology-Ambition/dp/1324000910.

(2) Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence … — amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/Something-Deeply-Hidden-Emergence-Spacetime/dp/1524743011.

(3) Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space: Levin, Janna …. https://www.amazon.com/Black-Blues-Other-Songs-Outer/d



Professor Brian Keating

Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego. Host of The INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE Podcast Authored: Losing the Nobel Prize & Think like a Nobel Prize Winner