Just when we thought we had heard it all.
“The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957,” says Professor Wiseman.
“In the well-known “Many-Worlds Interpretation,” each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made. All possibilities are therefore realised — in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonised by the Portuguese.
“But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all. On this score, our “Many Interacting Worlds” approach is completely different, as its name implies.”
Professor Wiseman and his colleagues propose that:
The universe we experience is just one of a gigantic number of worlds. Some are almost identical to ours while most are very different;
All of these worlds are equally real, exist continuously through time, and possess precisely defined properties;
All quantum phenomena arise from a universal force of repulsion between ‘nearby’ (i.e. similar) worlds which tends to make them more dissimilar.
Dr Hall says the “Many-Interacting Worlds” theory may even create the extraordinary possibility of testing for the existence of other worlds.
“The beauty of our approach is that if there is just one world our theory reduces to Newtonian mechanics, while if there is a gigantic number of worlds it reproduces quantum mechanics,” he says.
The theory has everything going for it but evidence. But today, why should that be a problem?
(Occam’s razor?: Go with the simplest explanation that accounts for the facts. The obvious thing to have done is just let quantum processes be “weird” for now, in relation to the laws governing larger systems – not invent some evidence-free craziness to explain them. If evidence-free craziness explains things, why not fairies? We still have the artwork. )
I believe there was a time in the history of physics when this kind of result would have been taken as evidence that a theoretical programme had failed. We could conclude that 10^500 different possible Calabi-Yau shapes with no compelling physical reason to select the one shape that particles that completely describes our universe—and hence describes the laws and the particles we actually observe—leave us with nowhere to go. Time to go back to the drawing board.
Except, of course, we now have eternal inflation and the inflationary multiverse.
Far from this vast multiplicity of possible Calabi-Yau shapes being seen as evidence for the failure of the superstring programme, it is instead used to bolster the idea that what the theory is describing is actually a multiverse.(p.225)
Things started to go wrong, in my view, when physicists started by disliking the Big Bang theory, despite the evidence, because it conflicted with a no-Bang theory they preferred for philosophical reasons. See Big Bang exterminator wanted, will train
They dislike the evidence for fine-tuning, for the same philosophical reasons (theistic implications). See Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.
People will come up with all manner of explanations to avoid the risk of a conclusion they do not like, and that is what we are seeing now, played out in high science culture.
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).
Prediction: It’ll get crazier.
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