Out on a limb...
No, this is not a review of a Mathew Brodrick movie.
I'm about to commit credibility suicide as a scifi author, perhaps even more suicidal than trying to review a ?three? decade old movie (a fun movie, by the way, about evil twins, crazy brothers, and a pinch of a quirky romance).
It has profound implications that reach far beyond Iran and North Korea.
For those that believe in God, the equation looks something like this.
If God created the universe, then the power of God is greater than or equal to all the energy in the universe (orbiting planets, burning suns, orbiting electrons...) plus the mass of the entire universe (from black holes to every speck of dust between the stars) times the speed of light squared.
God >= EofUniverse + MofUniverse * C^2.
A very big number, but acceptable if you believe in an all powerful God.
But if you believe only in science, then it gets a little bumpy from here.
The big bang bumpy.
According to E=MC^2, the energy that existed before the big bang is the same equation that lets you estimate the minimum power of God.
That's still a really really really big number, but this time without a good source. It's so big that it can't possibly be a 'rounding error' and looks an awful lot like a mistake big enough to prove a theory wrong. The big bang answers nothing, in other words, because it can't account for even one percent of where any of this energy came from, all it can answer is what happened to all that power after it was created.
Enter vacuum energy.
In the space between stars, that vacuum averages an atom or two every few feet. That's not exactly what anyone is really calling the source of vacuum energy. That's a vacuum in the same way that what we use to clean the floors is a vacuum. It's figurative, not literal. Vacuum energy is theoretical, namely because it doesn't exist in practice, but it's popular because it solves the God-level math error in the Big bang problem. The theory goes that true nothingness is the source of near infinite energy. Well, maybe, but I'm skeptical.
Imagine nothing, absolutely nothing for billions of light years in every direction. No energy. No heat. No mass. No nothing. (As an aside, what is the max speed of nothingness, and how would you know, and if it had speed would it still be nothingness? :)
If you dropped a particle into that much nothingness, vacuum energy would, in theory, rip it apart like a reverse black hole... much like a deep-sea fish might explode if you pulled it up onto the boat, or an astronaut might explode if he did a space walk without a suit. Or, best analogy, a helium party balloon will stretch until it explodes, usually long before it gets high enough to touch clouds. One can argue, convincingly, that the energy is not in the vacuum itself, but in the astronaut, fish, or balloon instead. Explode vs ripped apart. Exploding comes from forces within, where ripped apart are forces acting from outside. To the observer, they look the same.
So, for me, vacuum energy doesn't work, but because it solves the big bang energy problem nicely, many are deeply invested in it. But even a vacuum of one atom per cubic yard is impossible to produce here on Earth, let alone a vacuum at absolute zero, so any real answer one way or the other is unlikely to ever happen. (If you had a container that you could pump every atom out of, the container itself would be made of countless atoms, making the size of the container bigger than the sun in order to average less than an atom per foot, assuming no atoms fell off the walls of the container, which is equally unlikely)
It's so simple and elegant a formula that really the only wiggle room left in the equation is in C^2.
C, or the speed of light is a constant. But maybe not. If we could make it equal zero then we could create all the mass (m) we want and it would take (M*zero^2=0) no energy. In an absolute vacuum, the speed of light might actually be zero.
Consider, if light is a particle, then it may well be ripped to shreds in a pure vacuum. Light can't escape a black hole, so other things having a similar property are possible, if unlikely. Being instantly destroyed would give it a speed of zero. And if it was a wave, it could not pass through a medium of absolute nothingness for the same reason that sound stops traveling at the edge of space. By the way, this idea of even light particles being shredded by a pure vacuum would also give you a 'background radiation' type noise along the lines of the 'proof' of the big bang. The edges of our universe that touch into nothingness would be slowly shredded (evaporated or sublimated may be more accurate a visual representation), with some of that feeding back into the universe as background noise.
The math here works... sort of... but fuzzy.
But the instant that mass is created, the vacuum is destroyed and the speed of light gets insanely big again. And as for the instant mass, it is either put all in one place (maximum-gravity black-hole-of-all-black-holes, maximum 'vacuum energy' too) in which case it is likely big-bang exploded and the speed of light increases along a curve at the rate of the explosion... Or the mass is everywhere all at once, in which case the speed of light is instantly big and not much of a bang happens until much later. By the way, this 'dust cloud' model is how we see stars and solar systems being born, so, IF it is one of these, it's more likely a dust cloud of an atom every foot all at once (which we have billions of examples of) instead of a singularity 'big bang' that hasn't happened once outside a computer model.
An argument can be made that light would travel as a particle through a pure vacuum at the speed of light, since it would presumably enter with that speed and encounter nothing to destroy it or slow it down. Semantically, once a particle is in a vacuum it is no longer 'pure' and hence no longer exists. Put another way, if the particle exists then the vacuum can not, and if the vacuum exists then the particle can not. They are mutually exclusive, like dark or light. I buy that, but it destroys the theory of 'vacuum energy' entirely (I believe vacuum energy is wrong, but it's impossible to 'prove' it).
And some might be thinking... if mass or energy can be created 'on the cheap' wherever light has a speed of zero, then suns and black holes can make infinite mass and energy... but they don't seem to. Most explain this away by saying that the speed of light inside these super massive bodies isn't being slowed but more accurately time dilated. In other words, TIME has slowed for the photons inside such high gravity bodies and only appears slow or stopped to us outsiders; inside the black hole, from the photon's perspective, light is still screaming along, it's just time that has stopped for it instead. I kinda buy that, though it makes my head hurt.
Another 'flaw' is there's likely a zone around black holes where not only the speed of light it 'time dilated' to zero, but pure vacuums also exist, after all, black holes are considered to 'vacuum' up stars. If vacuum energy exists it should be there... but it doesn't seem to be.
So, to recap, about the only way (if you take God out of the equation) that you can create the entire universe using zero energy (because if you used any energy at all you have to then answer the 'well, where did that original energy/mass come from') is if you can somehow make the speed of light equal zero for at least a fraction of a second. Otherwise it violates E=MC^2 and you have to come up with where the mass of the universe or an even C-squared bigger amount of energy came from....
The 'flaw' of the big bang theory is the 'where did the exploding stuff come from,' and it's a God-level amount of energy/mass to explain away.
That is...Unless E=MC^2 is wrong....
Or, at the very least, it's incomplete. :)
I think there's more to that equation... and just perhaps a scifi author found it, but more on that a little later. I'm still weighing the credibility suicide of rewriting the world's most famous equation just so the ending of my book will work. I'm leaning towards it may be worth it.