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Scientists now have a fairly thorough understanding of the event known as the Big Bang, but what, if anything, came before it? According Tim Maudlin, professor of philosophy at New York University, modern cosmologists must consider two possibilities: that the universe was born of out nothing, or that the Big Bang was preceded by ‘another state’. However, both possibilities – that time simply began, or that an infinite amount of time has elapsed – provoke discontent among scientists and philosophers, which leaves the door open for a range of competing theories.
Interviewer: Nigel Warburton
Producer: Kellen Quinn
Editor: Adam D’Arpino
History of science
How an ancient polymath first calculated Earth’s size, as told by Carl Sagan
Future of technology
Artificial ‘creativity’ is unstoppable. Grappling with its ethics is up to us
Earth science and climate
A biologist on the sorrows of documenting the Great Salt Lake’s collapse
Design and fashion
Household items are reborn in a ‘visual symphony of everyday objects’
As a pianist strikes a chord, visualisations of his notes appear in real time
Thinkers and theories
Jeremy Bentham was consumed by creating a perfect prison. Here’s the result
Why aren’t our everyday lives as ‘spooky’ as the quantum world?
Burning ice, metal clouds, gemstone rain – tour the strangest known exoplanets
Logic and probability
Chew over the prisoner’s dilemma and see if you can find the rational path out