Mt. Palomar, Calif.
Quantum theory suggests that the universe could have begun as a `random fluctuation of the vacuum'- literally coming into being from nothing. In this theory, equal amounts of positive and negative energies appeared, which underwent expansion and transformations that led to the primordial explosion of a compact ball of matter, the `cosmic egg.' This explosion has resulted in the expanding universe we know today. The diagram below shows some of the key events that took place from the split second after the Big Bang to the formation of our solar system.