Hey Bill Nye! Could a Black Hole Have Created the Big Bang?

Television Host and Science Educator

This week's #TuesdaysWithBill question comes from Jeremy in Illinois: "What if the Big Bang is nothing more than the eventual explosion of a black hole when its energy is not enough to keep everything it has pulled in inside? In theory it is an exceptionally dense rotating ball of matter right?"

The Science Guy sinks his teeth into this intriguing question. His answer? Most likely not, though that's not to say the idea should be completely ruled out. Bill's doubts stem from scale — an exploding black hole likely would not have been large enough to create you, me, Bill, Jeremy, and everything else out there. Then again, maybe some astronomer somewhere is on the verge of discovering that we're really just the byproduct of a black hole detonation. That'd be pretty cool, we think.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Jeremy Gibson: Hey. Jeremy Gibson from Vernon, Illinois. I had to write it out on a script so I can actually get the question right. What if the Big Bang is nothing more than the eventual explosion of a black hole when its energy is not enough to keep everything it has pulled in inside? In theory it is an exceptionally dense rotating ball of matter right?

Bill Nye: So Jeremy, that’s a great question. First let me point out that nobody knows, but secondly the people that work very hard on understanding the beginning of everything, the Big Bang. They have not come up with the idea that it was a single black hole. Just this week people discovered the star they’re calling Nasty, which created a disc a thousand times the diameter of the solar system. The scale of the thing is really hard to get. The reason I think that your idea about it being a single black hole is probably not right is the scale of it. There are at least 10 to the 85th atoms in the observable universe. Any black hole or star that we’ve come across is just not that big. Not even close to that big. We started talking about dozens of orders of magnitude, dozens of factors of 10. It’s just the Big Bang was a big deal. I mean you and I and everything that we can observe came from it as far as we can tell. So you may be right. And maybe this star Nasty will lead to a discovery that will inform your question. But right now, I think you’re just, you’re not appreciating how big everything is or how big everything must have been.

And then there’s this question, Jeremy, of the unknowable time. There’s a time according to sort of first-cut relativity. There’s a time we can’t know because of the quantum. Because the energy is either here or it’s not there. And so people just love to speculate about what happened in that moment. And maybe you will be the guy that discovers it. Maybe your question will give an astrophysicist an idea and he or she will go I’ve got it and we will all stay tuned. That’s a cool question Jeremy.