The Cosmic Cycle

The Process of Creation-Annihilation-Creation


About 13.7 billion years ago, the primal state of nothingness or singularity exploded into a fiery explosion, an event now known as the Big Bang. Thereafter, the nascent Cosmos went through a process of inflation, carrying along with it an infinite number of subatomic particles and their opposites that swarmed frenziedly in all imaginable directions across the expanding fabric of space-time at light speed, i.e., 186,282 miles per second or 299,792,458 meters per second.

This happened, almost instantaneously, in just 10-43 seconds (that is 43 zeros to the left of the digit 1 or .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000001), after the fiery explosion, while the process of creation happened 10-32 seconds after the Big Bang when the temperature cooled down to 1027oC.

Through a process of violent collision and merger that characterized the initial encounter of subatomic particles, it took only this minute fraction of a second for the vibrating threads of energy to produce the primary ingredients of matter and their opposites.

Physicists were able to discover this because the Big Bang theory can now be replicated inside huge high-speed particle accelerators or atom smashers. These machines are circular in shape extending for some miles in circumference under the ground where subatomic particles are released in opposite directions and made to collide with each other at velocities close to the speed of light.

What has been observed in these controlled experiments is that if a particle meets an antiparticle, they cancel out each other and vanish without traces at the point of contact. For example, when a proton and anti-proton collide, they explode, releasing tremendous energy and literally disappear in a puff of light (Fig. 3.1).


But in the course of the annihilation, because of their tremendous energy, new higher energy particles identified as photons are created in pairs at the point of contact (Fig. 3.2). And this process of annihilation and creation were discovered to go on and on almost endlessly in a cyclical fashion.


Gary Zukav (2001:216) made this observation: “What we have been calling matter constantly is being created, annihilated, and created again. This happens as particles interact and it also happens, literally, out of nowhere.” This “out-of-nowhere” origin is interpreted to be other boundless universes out there besides our own, that also have their respective big bangs.

As Physicist Neil Turok also once said: “It may be that we live in an endless universe, both in space and in time. And there've been Bangs in the past, and there will be Bangs in the future.” Through this long cyclical process of collision and chance coalescence bigger structures and forms appeared in the heavens above us.

Then, in 10-6 seconds, when the temperature further reduced to 1013oC, quarks started to coalesce to form protons and neutrons, a process that continued for the next three minutes, when heat further dropped to 108oC.

It took more than 300,000 years for electrons to merge with protons and neutrons to finally form the primal atoms, which were initially composed mainly of hydrogen and helium. We are told by science that it was during this time that light began to glow. 

But will this cosmic expansion really go on forever without end? How does the future look like?

As a backgrounder, here are the basics ...

The proton, electron, photon, and neutrino are considered stable particles in the sense that they live forever, except when they are put also in a collision course. All the other particles (at least those discovered until the mid-1970s) are considered unstable, since they undergo a process of decay almost immediately after they are created.

These unstable particles disappear after a few “particle second” but they also leave their visible tracks at the collision point in the bubble chamber, tracks that can be captured through a built-in camera. The other primary particles, including neutrino, live forever. Some might disappear in the collision process but a lot of them go unscathed.

Astrophysicists theorized that there was more normal matter than antimatter in the beginning, in a ratio of one matter for every billion of matter and antimatter. What was left in the collision, while very small in proportion, is enough for stars, galaxies, and us to appear.

This is an incredible theory but this is the current thinking in the scientific circles.

Cosmologists as well as astrophysicists are convinced that this imbalance in the number of opposites was created from the primeval Big Bang otherwise, as British Cosmologist Paul Davies remarked, there would have been nothing left. While scientists might be comfortable with this explanation, this only ignites more questions that our inquisitive cannot just ignore.

If matter and antimatter are out to vanquish and annihilate each other, what explains the appearance of “something” from “nothing” (creation ab nihilo)? What was it in the beginning that gave matter its form and structure? What was it in the primal singularity that gave mass and forms to particles? And, how are all this related to our daily life?

German Physicist Hermann von Helmholtz hinted that all these quantum events are also happening at the macro level. By regarding the Cosmos as a closed and isolated system, i.e., there is nothing outside of it, the entire universe is inevitably headed towards a “heat death,” ending in a Big Crunch or Big Freeze, perhaps waiting again for another Big Bang.

Alex Vilenkin already expressed the view that this Big Bang-Big Freeze/Crunch phenomenon marks the cyclical process of birth and death of the Cosmos. In his words (2006:22): 

At the initial moment, which we now call the big bang, all matter in the universe is packed into a single point, so the density of matter is infinite. The density decreases as the universe expands and then grows as it recontracts, to become infinite again at the moment of the “big crunch,” when the universe shrinks back to a point. The big bang and the big crunch mark the beginning and the end of the universe. 

This cyclical behavior of the Cosmos has long been observed thousands of years ago in the beliefs of our ancient ancestors. H. Zimmer (1972) cites the Hindu view of a God whose bodily movements signify either creation or annihilation:

His gestures wild and full of grace, precipitate the cosmic illusion; his flying arms and legs and the swaying of his torso produce—indeed, they are—the continuous creation-destruction of the universe, death exactly balancing birth, annihilation the end of every coming-forth. 

Joseph Campbell (1972:63) is more poetic in describing this cyclical process of creation and annihilation by referring to the Hindi belief: 

Brahma sits on a lotus, the symbol of divine energy and divine grace. The lotus grows from the navel of Vishnu, who is the sleeping god, whose dream is the universe.... Brahma opens his eyes and a world comes into being... Brahma closes his eyes, and a world goes out of being. 

Other prehistoric beliefs apply this concept to humanity and civilization as follows:

Through energy the worlds were made, and through that energy they make progression; through energy the forms unfold and die; through energy the kingdoms manifest and disappear below the threshold of the world which ever is, and which will be forever (Alice A. Bailey, 1993:556).

Omraam (2011) is also able to give a parallel description of this cyclical process of creation and annihilation employing the analogy of the biblical grain of wheat: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). According to him, a seed has to split itself into two parts for a new life to sprout and grow.

What was once one then, becomes two, to eventually give rise to three. As a new form of life emerges, then, the seed disappears and dies. Death plays a role in nature by giving birth to new elements. It is also in this manner that death and life become complementary. What comes after the flourishing of the sprout is the bearing of fruits and abundance. 

From the perspective of quantum physics, what is the role of antimatter in the entire cosmic scheme? Can it not just be dispensed with? Why should there be opposites or dualities?

Quantum physics teaches us that, without duality, the Cosmos—including us human species—would not have appeared. Opposites are connected to each other. They reciprocate each other’s strengths and weaknesses and their synergistic relationship explains the complementarity and symmetry we witness today.