Alastair Wilson at berfrois:
Suppose we ask: where did spacetime itself arise from? Then we can go on turning the clock yet further back, into the truly ancient “Planck epoch” – a period so early in the universe’s history that our best theories of physics break down. This era occurred only one ten-millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. At this point, space and time themselves became subject to quantum fluctuations. Physicists ordinarily work separately with quantum mechanics, which rules the microworld of particles, and with general relativity, which applies on large, cosmic scales. But to truly understand the Planck epoch, we need a complete theory of quantum gravity, merging the two.
We still don’t have a perfect theory of quantum gravity, but there are attempts – like string theory and loop quantum gravity. In these attempts, ordinary space and time are typically seen as emergent, like the waves on the surface of a deep ocean.