Questions I dread: How did the universe begin, and what is space-time?

Milky Way. Night sky and silhouette of a standing man

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THERE are two questions that I considerably dread when speaking science to the general public. And, sadly, they’re relatively frequent, as a result of they’re attention-grabbing to everybody, myself included.

The primary is: “What was there earlier than the start of the universe?” The second: “What’s space-time?” You may suppose that I’d really relish the chance to reply such queries as a result of they go to the guts of what theoretical cosmologists like me do. It’s actually within the job description, which I usually inform folks is to attempt to perceive the origin and evolution of space-time and every part within it. …