What existed before the universe was made? Do we really know where in the universe we are?

It is impossible to know what existed before the universe. Many physicists regard the question as meaningless, saying that the Big Bang which created the universe was effectively the beginning of time. The universe may be finite, but even if this is the case, it is not currently possible to observe what lies beyond it or to situate it in some larger system.

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To say that the universe was invented or created is to make an assumption which few physicists make. On the question of what existed before the universe, those who have studied the matter are divided not between alternative explanations, but between those who say the question means something and those who regard it as being based on the false assumption that time existed before the universe. Stephen Hawking's view, for instance, is that, since nothing before the Big Bang is measurable, the Big Bang was effectively the beginning of time. To ask what came before it is like asking what is South of the South Pole. The human habit of thinking in linear time resembles the habit of thinking that "South" is the same thing as "downwards." This works when you look at a map, but has no application once you go beyond the boundaries of the earth. Even among scientists who do not regard the Big Bang as the beginning of time, there is no consensus on what took place before it.

In terms of space, it is unclear whether the universe is infinite or not, but it is clear that the human mind has not evolved to grasp either infinity or multi-dimensional space. Michio Kaku points out that even physicists who have been working with mathematical descriptions of such concepts for decades say that they cannot envisage them. It is therefore impossible to situate the universe within any other spatial system, though this impossibility is not necessarily permanent in principle.

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